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Short Pants for Short Women
With the onset of warm weather in many parts of the country, shorter style pants abound. Some of us have lifestyles and figures that allow us to wear shorter styles of pants with relative ease and confidence. Others struggle with how much of their legs they should expose to flatter their particular figures and how professional it is to wear shorter pants on the job.
Petite women in particular are wise to select their shorter style pants with some extra care. Here are six tips to help guide petites through the maze of shorter style pants this season. Even if you are not petite, read on. Much of this information is relative to anyone interested in maximizing the bottom half of her wardrobe this season:
#1 Understand that All Short Pants are Not Created Equal: Many petites believe that there is no place in their wardrobes for shorter pants. It is true that a longer style pant makes a petite leg look longer and leaner, and longer pants can also look more professional since less bare skin is exposed. On the other hand, having a variety of shorter style pants in your closet when the temperature starts to rise makes good sense — no matter your size.
Short pants are given all sorts of names in the marketplace these days — cropped, Capri, clamdiggers and the like. Bermuda shorts and gaucho pants are also getting quite a bit of play this season. The key is figuring out which types of short pants work best for your figure.
If you have really short legs, stick with cropped pants, which land between your ankle and your calf, the thinnest part of the leg for most women. Gauchos often work for petites with full thighs (and slimmer lower legs) as many styles are designed to look like skirts and float over, as opposed to clinging to, the leg. If you have thick knees, be sure gauchos land just below this area. Capri pants are the hardest of the three pictured styles to pull off as they land at the top of the shin, typically the widest part of the lower leg.
We favor a slight flair at the hem of Capri and cropped pants for most women (including petites) to help balance their overall silhouettes.
#2 Shop in the Right Place: Petite women should start their search for all summer pants in the petite department — where styles have already been scaled down to flatter their unique proportions. Once you have found a few cropped pants that work, then move on to other options such as Capris, gauchos, walking shorts and other shorter pant styles to see if any work for you. With expanded styles in the marketplace today, it is wise to take the time to try on a variety of looks that you may otherwise breeze by. You just might find a particular brand that is a perfect fit for you!
#3 The Details Matter: Study any short-style pant before your jump into them! Prints the size of your fist or smaller are better than larger prints on the bottom half of a petite woman, especially for a business casual office. Likewise, cargo-style pockets and other bulky features on Capri pants have the tendency to overpower a petite frame. If a short-style pant you have selected has a slight cuff (avoid exaggerated cuffing on pants if you are an extreme petite), balance the look by wearing a shirt or short jacket with a cuffed sleeve or pocket detail.
#4 Visit the Tailor: If you are a very short petite, you can always have a tailor or seamstress shorten a pant that is meant to be cropped or Capri but appears full length on you due to your height. Also, avoid buying cropped pants from the missy department and wearing them as a full-length pant. The rise on the pant will probably not be your best fit even if the hem does rest comfortably on the front of your shoe!
#5 Put Your Best Dressed Foot Forward: Petites are well advised to keep their shorter pants more casual (and therefore their overall figure well balanced) by selecting a shoe with a moderate heel height (i.e. 1-2 inches). Save your higher heels to wear with full-length pants and skirts. Sandals are an obvious choice with shorter pants in the summertime. Cropped pants can also be dressed up with kitten heel or slingback pumps for the office or formal social outing as long as the rest of the outfit is coordinated correctly (i.e. you wear a short jacket with the outfit as opposed to a casual tee shirt). A higher heel worn with shorter pants on a petite frame can make you look like you are about to topple over!
Mary Lou Andre is the author of "Ready to Wear: An Expert's Guide to Choosing and Using your Wardrobe" and editor of www.dressingwell.com.
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