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.
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.
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.