How to Wear Capri Pants with Confidence

If you’ve almost given up on capris because you wonder if they are in style or think they make you look frumpy, there may be some truth to that. Capris have a bad reputation for a reason. They tend to shorten your legs (especially if you are short, to begin with), and they highlight wide or muscular calves.

However, there are ways to get around this.

Finding the right style and fit of capris, crops, pedal pushers, or whatever you want to call them for your body type can make a world of difference in how they look on you.

Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts to look great and feel confident in capri pants.

capris and purple top for travel


Do’s and Don’ts for Choosing Figure Flattering Capris

How to Wear Capris Pants – Length

Length is everything when it comes to looking good in capris. If your capris are too short or too long, your legs can look stumpy, and your calves can look huge.

The challenge is to find a pair of capris that end at the thinnest part of your leg. This capris sweet spot is different for everyone, but it will always be just above or below the widest part of your calf.  Finding the perfect length is tricky, so you should try on several capris in front of a mirror to see what looks best.

My calves are about average size, and my legs are fairly long, so it’s less of a problem for me, but I still had to try on several pairs to find one that looked this good.

In general:

  • If you have very chunky or muscular calves, DO think about wearing cropped pants that cover your calves and end just above the ankle instead of capris. In your case, they are more flattering.
  • If you have regular-sized calves, DO wear capris that end just below the muscular part of your calf, where your shin starts to indent – somewhere between your calf and the ankle is best. This is the narrowest part of your lower leg, the part you want to emphasize.
  • If your leg narrows in a little just below the knee, DO feel free to wear pedal pushers ( knee-length capris), a trendy style this year. They will look good on you.
  • Skinny calves? DO wear capris at the fullest part of your calf to make your calves look wider.



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denim capris blue top


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  • Capri pants with wide leg openings accentuate the break line of your silhouette and can make you look shorter and wider, so DON’T rush to wear these if you are short or heavy.
  • DO wear capris with a tapered or straight leg to create the longest and sleekest look on everyone.


  • If your legs are short, DO choose capris with a higher waist. The high waist will draw the eye up and make your legs appear longer. (Your top should skim the top of your capris to show off the high waist)
  • Short Torso? DO balance it by choosing mid-rise capris, which visually lower your waist.


  • Carrying extra weight? DON’T wear capris with bulky details such as elastic waistbands, big cargo-style side pockets, drawstrings, and wide cuffs. These all make you look heavy and frumpy unless you are slim. Plain capris are slimming.




Colored Capris - pink

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What to Wear with Capris  – Tops

  • Short Legs? DO stick to tops that skim the top of your capris to give you the illusion of extra leg length.
  • DON’T  be afraid to wear longer tops if you are average height or tall. Just make sure your capris are tapered. Capris or ankle-length cropped pants look perfect under a flowy tunic or a short dress.



denim capris

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How to Wear Capris Pants – Color and Pattern

  • DO wear all one color from top to bottom to look taller such as a black top and black capris -all black or black print.
  • DON’T mix brightly colored capris with brightly colored tops and bright accessories. It’s too flashy. Instead, mix colorful capris, i.e.: red, with a white button-down shirt and black sandals for a sophisticated look.
  • DO choose neutral-colored capris such as black, blue, gray, white, and taupe, and accent your capris with a colorful top, like a bright blue top with capris, to look modern and fresh.
  • DON’T wear capri pants with large patterns if you are petite, and don’t wear capris with small patterns if you are large or plus size. Keep things balanced.




Cuffed Capris - Green

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How to Wear Capri Pants - Camo

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  • Flat shoes can look great with capris, but don’t wear
  • DO wear a wedge or low chunky heel to elongate your exposed calf.  A cute summer sandal with a heel or wedge is a great option. Or, if you need a more comfortable shoe, try a colorful kitten heel.
  • DO try a nude-colored shoe to make your legs look longer. A shoe that is the same color as your skin elongates. Second best choice? A shoe that is the same color as your capris will also help.

Beach Vacation - print pants

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The Capri pant is a comfortable summer option. (Denim capris are always popular too). Just be sure to think through your look to maintain a long leg and sleek silhouette.

Shop more capri pants here:



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32 thoughts on “How to Wear Capri Pants with Confidence

  1. Mother’s Day is fast Approaching Trying to find some Capris That will go well with some Reebok princess tennis shoes. The colors are Coral the other color is o think a deep green almost like army green I would say. For the one in a Coral color I thought about pink & navy blue for the one in green I thought about Orange & Red or Blue & Red

  2. Love your articles and always find several useful tidbits that I can work with.
    I love fashion.
    Where did you get the skinny denim Capri with side zippers that you are wearing at the end of
    your articles? When I try and access the information, it doesn’t go to a site.
    Are they no longer available? Thank you so much.

    1. Hi Patti,
      Yes, Unfortunately, they are sold out so I have looked around and the only other ones I can find are here. They have the zipper but they have rhinestones too:
      If I find anything else I will let you know, but it might be hard until summer comes. All the best, Deborah

  3. Vera Wang makes the perfect capris for plus-size women. I’ve purchased quite a few pairs. A much younger woman remarked that they were quite chic on me. Yet another said that I looked “cute.” Works for me! I highly recommend them.

  4. Informative article. Without saying outright, I get the feeling you think capris might not be the best look for women over 40. I am 50+ and 5’2″ tall with a very slight build. My legs are short, but I can’t wear the rise-in petite pants. I’ve tried numerous pairs of capris and have yet to find a pair that doesn’t make me look, for lack of a better word, “dumpy”. I would think I’m not alone in my dilemma.

  5. Thank you for the great advice. On another subject, what about the off-shoulder trend? And my question, after seeing some great off-should tops that I think may be too young for me, what happens to the design if I wear them above-shoulder?

    1. Hi Lorna,
      If you feel an off the shoulder is not right for you:
      you could try a cold shoulder. I would recommend this over pulling up an off the shoulder.
      You can often pull up an off the shoulder, but you lose the effect. With a cold shoulder you have your shoulders partly covered but you get the off the shoulder effect.
      Here is a post about it:
      Cheers, Deborah

  6. I wonder if you can wear capris if you have very skinny legs and calves ?I find It difficult to find styles for summer that I feel comfortable with. as I am very skinny in general.

    1. Hi Anne,
      If you are feeling self-conscious about skinny legs, then go for a cropped pant that ends just above the ankle, rather than capris pants that end in the middle of the calf. Also, choose slim leg cropped pants/capris as a wider capris will only emphasize skinny legs.I have a girlfriend with skinny legs who only wore maxis for years. She recently started wearing cropped pants like I mentioned and she looks great. Too bad it took her all these years to find out!

      1. Thank you !
        I will try this out ?
        I am glad your friend found out .Oftentimes we are too insecure and miss a lot of fun.

  7. As I was reading this I was going through the capris I own: neutral color – check! end at narrow part of leg – check! got rid of drawstring capris – check! Uh-oh, I have a pair of cargo ones with lots of zippers, but they’re not heavy – check?! Anyway, thanks for all of the helpful tips!


  8. Such a wealth of information! I was checking each point vs. the capris I own. Donated pair with drawstring in front – check! None have big pockets – check! Neutral color – check! Uh oh, I have a cargo pair with lots of zippers, but they’re not heavy – so sort of check!? Anyway, I always find such great information on your site!


  9. What if you have really skinny legs? Mine look like sticks, and to make matters worse, I have long, thin feet. No, I don’t want to emphasize the thinnest part of my calf. It looks like I have a wasting disease. How can I wear pants that aren’t full length without looking like a puppet? I am too old for short shorts, which I used to wear to get around the problem.

    1. Hi Emily, If you have thin legs then your capris should end at the widest part of the leg which would be mi-calf. You could also try wearing a long top, shirt or tunic tucked out with your capris to add an extra layer to your upper legs and take the emphasis off your legs in general. Lighter or brighter colored capris will make your legs look larger than dark-colored capris too.

  10. You have given me some great ideas and inspiration for wearing some of my clothes in a new way. The ones that I love but have just been shoved to the back of my wardrobe, as I love them and cannot bear to throw them out, but keep thinking what on earth will I wear these with. Thank you.

  11. I just found your website this morning, after determining that forget frumpy, I am tired looking! So I have decided to reinvent myself! Starting with a new look for Spring this is a perfect start….thank you for all the great advice available at this site.

    1. HI Alice,
      I am so glad you found F40! I was at dinner last night and a friend said something profound…” You can not be the person you want to be if you continue to be the person you are.” It’s encouraging to think about that and how we can put that in practice! Welcome to the group and I hope you enjoy being a part of it!!!

  12. Thank you for giving tips on how to look fabulous after 40. Now, I know how to wear capris!!!

  13. Thank you sooo much for tackling this subject. I have just started working on my summer shopping list and I appreciate you posting articles like this so I can be in fashion and ahead of the game!
    Thanks, Colleen

    1. Hi Coleen,
      Glad to be of help. It is good to hear that are planning what to buy. It helps to have in mind what you should be looking for and what to you really need so you don’t buy on impulse.
      Good luck and stay tuned for more tips like these~

      1. Deborah–do you think colored skinny jeans will be in style another year? I have so many pretty colors, and they are so versatile, but I don’t want to wear them if they are passé.

        1. Hi Sandra,
          They’re still in style, but I’m seeing a trend towards less loud colors. So instead of bright red, I’m seeing more oxblood or instead of bright purple, I’m seeing eggplant. Don’t throw out your brights yet, just tone them down with neutrals like black, gray, cream etc.

  14. Thanks so much for your website! I had a baby in July and since then I’ve lost 40 pounds and I needed a new wardrobe – but since I turned 40 right after he was born I didn’t know what to look for – now I check your blog before I go shopping! I’m still getting used to the idea of being 40 – but I love that I can look fabulous!

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