Slim fit pants that are cropped just above the ankle are currently the trending look. The style is everywhere, completely mainstream for the third season, and quite relentless. And judging from what I’m seeing on catwalks, there is no stopping it. 

If you’ve been with YLF for a while, you’ll know that pant lengths are my thing, which is why I am pedantic about what is flattering to my eye. I am highly sensitized to differences in length, longer or shorter, and will split hairs about the smallest change. So remember this caveat when reading my suggestions. I am hard to please when it comes to ankle pants and the “wrong” length is my poison eye. 

Thankfully, I’ve had lots of practice fitting clients across all body types, heights, sizes and ages into ankle pants over the years, and have found that there are two lengths that look flattering on everyone. One option is a little longer than most ankle pants, while the other is shorter. Both versions are tapered at the hem for structure, which is the other vital ingredient. 

On the Ankle with a Self Colour Shoe

The hem of the ankle pants below rests on the ankle bone. Furthermore, the shoes are the same colour as the pants (self colour), which visually creates a long lean line despite the horizontally cutting effect of the skin peeking through. Wear a white or red shoe with this look, which is high contrast to the pants, and you’ve lost the visual extension of the line. Widen the width of the hems and your legs look shorter. 

I’ve also found this length to look better with high vamped shoes like oxfords, loafers and peep-toe booties because the vamp of the shoe — in the same colour — visually extends the line of the pants.

Paul by Paul Smith Milano Pants

Cropped Four to Six Inches Above the Ankle Bone 

If you’re going to show your ankles, SHOW your ankles, which means showcasing the skin above the ankle. The lengths of these ankle pants are shorter than the norm by about four to six inches depending on your height, and of course, tapered for extra structure. Wear them slightly longer, but not as long as the example above, and wider at the hems, and you loose the flattering line on the leg. 

The beauty of the shorter ankle length is that it works with many shoe styles. Flat, heeled, low vamp, high vamp, low or high contrast. Try it all, and you’ll be surprised at how versatile this length is with footwear.

Banana Republic Hampton Fit Checkered CropSejour Knit Crop Pants

I’m not saying that ankle pants with wider hems that finish in between these two lengths are taboo. But in my experience, they are harder to pull off when you don’t have an extremely long leg line and relatively slim legs. Elongating strategies, like wearing heels, wearing low-contrast footwear, and tucking tops will only take you so far. Whereas adjusting the length and making sure the hem widths are adequately tapered is an easier and more practical solution.