Tuesday, June 29, 2010

the great debate; men, women, and capri pants

by frédérik sisa

I’ve written about capris before, but a post I stumbled on at tampabay.com, by the Deal Divas, made me want to tackle the strange fact that capris, like clogs, seem to be the Rodney Dangerfields of fashion.

“Are capris really as ugly as some men say?” asks the post by Deal Diva Colleen. She goes on to write:
“I've long counted capris among my go-to pieces. Until now. Looking at my reflection in a full-length mirror, a strong disliking for my once sure-bet cropped pants washed over me. The proportion seemed all wrong. I swapped my flats for heels, thinking that would add some needed lower leg definition. Nope. I still felt dumpy.”
But it’s the comments in response to the post that really caught my attention. “Regular Guy” writes, “No woman under 50 should be caught dead in a pair of these.” "Lucia" is similarly hostile: “The whole highwaters thing went out with the nerds in 10th grade who also had pocket protectors.” And how about “politically incorrect,” who writes “Ladies, take it from a man and not some female fashion critic or gay male fashion critic. Capris say one thing and one thing only-‘I don't care about my appearance’. They are especially ugly when combined with flats or really "crunchy' shoes. Either wear shorts, a skirt or pants-none of this in between garbage please.”


Of course, here at the Fashionoclast we’re all about doing your own thing and rejecting that sort of judgmental, stick-up-the-ass attitude. I won’t repeat the whole comment I left in response to Deal Diva Colleen and other commenters – you’re more than welcome to mosey on over there and come back when you’re done – but I’ll share the gist.

As with any piece of clothes, whether capris work or not depends largely on physique and tailoring. Not all pants, shirts, shoes, and the like, suit everybody because sometimes they don’t fit a body’s shape. Sometimes it’s a question of design – some clothes are designed to be loose while others designed to be form fitting, and tailoring would alter the design concept. Sometimes it’s not the overall style but the tailoring, as anyone trying to find a pair of jeans knows well.

But into all of this comes a rather important variable: expectations of beauty. In reading the comments in response to Deal Diva Colleen’s post, it seems that the prejudice that only skinny people can be “fashionable” is alive and well. How differently would we, as a culture, perceive fashion is we were less judgmental about people’s bodies? Maybe I’m rare in thinking that there are far more beautiful people then mainstream culture is willing to acknowledge.

So the Great Capri Debate is, really, a bit of a croc. It all boils down to this: wear what you want with confidence. If you like capris, wear them. If you don’t, don’t. For my part, I’m glad to see how capris have become a staple not only in women’s wardrobes but, increasingly, in men’s.

Of course, for women who like capris there’s no shortage of stores to buy them. For guys, it’s a bit more challenging. When I got it in mind to find capris for myself over 10 years ago – yes, I predate the trend – I had to recruit the services of a tailor. Now, there are a few more options, like these cargo capris from Undergear (formerly International Male) or various knickers and cropped pants from Altrec.com.

So what do I do with capris? Maybe you’ll like these or maybe they’ll make your eyes bleed, but either way, here are two looks I like a lot, both starting with pants I had custom hemmed. Please excuse the photo quality; I had to improvise.

This first, kinda tropical look (thanks to the shirt) is relaxed and neither formal nor overly casual. It’s great for going from day to evening. Given the relative loose fit of the pants and the just-past-the-knee cut, this is more in line with the pant length that seems to be common for men’s capris these days.

Shirt: Cubavera
Pants: Dickies
Sandals: Kiwis

I like to think of this as my newsboy look. The cap adds a retro flair, I think, which I like. This feels to me like a fun, comfortable and robust outfit for zipping about LA in the summer. Or selling newspapers on street corners.

Shirt: Can’t remember; it’s from Target
Jean capris: Wrangler, from way, way back (!?)
Sandals: Kiwis

So, ladies (and gentlemen), how do you like to wear capris? Leave a comment or, if you’d like to show off your snappy ensemble, eMail me a picture to feature in a future post. (eMail address is in the left sidebar.) If you don't like wearing capris, that's okay too, and I'd love for you to share your opinion too.


Jenny H. said...

Well put, Frederik! I think you're right. It really is all about the tailoring and attitude.
Going along with that (and also in response to the commonly heald belief that fashion is for skinny people), even smaller people have problems looking good in popular trends. Speaking candidly here, I might be considered to have a smaller frame by some, but have often found that while shopping a certain cut of blouse or style of dress looks way better on my curvy friends than me because the clothes are tailored that way. Some clothes are tailored more for curvy people and some are more tailored for smaller people. It is all a matter of accepting your body type, and realizing (sometimes sadly) that not all clothing styles are made for every body type.
So yes, while some people (such as Frederik) who is tall and thin may be able to pull of capris quite dashingly ;) a male who is shorter and heavier may not look quite as well.
It's all about knowing your body type and what looks good on YOU :)

Aqua said...

Here ya go, just posted this over there too in response to those haters. Capris can look amazing, (think Audrey Hepburn)but its all about the cut. To be flattering, the capri hem needs to fall high on the calf muscle other wise it DOES look dumpy and matronly. If it falls too low on the muscle, it appears they're hiding a thick leg. Careful there!

Frederik Sisa said...

Right on, ladies! Well said!

And Aqua, thanks for the tag-team. The haters should be afraid, very afraid. :)

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