All my business casual clients have added cropped black trousers to their bottoms capsule over the past few seasons, because it’s a trendy, practical and easy way to evolve their workwear looks for Spring and Summer. This style of bottom is extra versatile because you can wear it with at least four untucked lengths of top. The Polyvore set below showcases tops in various lengths for visual reference. 

I’ve stuck to black bottoms because they are winners with my clients who work in corporate offices, but feel free to use any colour palette.  Here are the components:

Cropped Pants: Choose slim-fit trousers that are cropped two to four inches above the ankle bone. The hems can be skinny or straight. Jeans will also work if trousers are not your thing. Note that leggings are NOT a substitute here because this is a dressier outfit combination. 

4 Different Lengths of Top: Experiment with four different lengths of untucked top in any colour, pattern and fabrication. I’ve chosen wovens because that’s my preference, but feel free to choose knits: 

  1. Shorter Boxy Top: The boxy fit offsets the shorter length of the top. High-low hemlines are fab. 
  2. Regular Length Top: A top with a curved hemline tends to create a little more structure when the fit is fluid or oversized. 
  3. Tunic Top: Asymmetrical tunics are ideal because diagonal lines are magical. 
  4. Shirt Dress: Wear a shirt dress that hits you above, on, or below the knee. If unstructured shirt dresses feel off, add a belt for waist definition. A curved hem will also go a long way to adding structure to the outfit. Longer shirt dresses that finish below the knee tend to look better with a heel unless you are very tall. 

Ankle Accentuating Footwear: You’ll need the right footwear to wear with the cropped length of the trousers. Think heeled or flat sandals or closed toe shoes (like pumps) with ankle straps that are positioned high on the ankle, sandal booties or cage heels. Also high-vamped sandals with broad straps, or loafers. 

Accessories: Finish off the outfit with bag, jewellery, watch and eyewear as desired.

Ensemble: Short and Long over Cropped Pants

I’ve worn this look quite a bit with slim-fit cropped skinny or straight blue and white jeans and unstructured shirt dresses. I wear flats with my shorter shirt dresses and heels with my long olive shirt dress. I’ve popped a long trench coat or short denim jacket over the top when I need an extra layer.

Dress Jeans - Side