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Fashion for Older Women: Capri Pants for the Summer Months

The capri pants have garnered a lot of controversy in the last couple of years! Many articles will tell you not to wear them and that they make you appear frumpy.

Yet I’m sure many of you reading this have a pair or two in your closet because at this time of our life most of us aren’t wearing shorts anymore!

However, when the temperature is hot outside, how else do we stay cool in our clothing? One style option that I’ve touched upon in the past was the maxi dress or skirt to keep your legs covered yet still cool. Today we’ll focus on shorter pants!

Our top 5 capri pants:

  1. Amanda Capris from Gloria Vanderbilt – Comes in a variety of colors and prints.
  2. Plus Size Tummy-Control Capri – Offered in several cool colors.
  3. Cropped Flare Jeans – Great for thicker calves.
  4. Relaxed cuffed capris from NYDJ – Super comfy, super casual.
  5. Beaded Hem Pull-On Denim Capris – Elegant beaded capris from Chico’s.

The meaning of the term capri pants could vary from person to person. If you’ve been shopping lately, then many of you will have seen the cropped flares and culottes that are showing up in the stores. And then there are the ankle pants that were the subject of an earlier post on Sixty and Me. Most of us think of them as a pair of trousers that end somewhere under the knee and above the ankle.

This variation on trousers is perfect for those of us who are still comfortable showing part of our legs during the summer yet consider shorts too short!

What Variations and Styles Are Available?

I know that much of the controversy about capris stems from the fact that they interrupt the length of your legs and therefore make you appear shorter. But I’d like to compare this same feature with skirts. Most skirts, except maxi skirts, end somewhere in the middle of our legs and yet we don’t think they shorten our appearance.

Two of the features to consider when you are looking for capris are the width and length of the pant leg. So, let’s examine how we can find some capri pants that we will like and wear!

What Length Is Best for You?

This question of length is going to be quite different for every woman reading this article. And it’s not to say that there can’t be a couple of different lengths that work for you.

First, if you do love and wear skirts, take a gander at the length of those skirts that look great on you! That will be a great place to start with your capris also! And always remember that it can be worthwhile to have some of your capris altered to make them the correct length for your body.

Second, put on the capris and then take some photos of yourself. I know this suggestion will seem strange, but there is truly a difference in how you appear from looking in the mirror as opposed to how you look in a photo.

Most rules will indicate to get the most flattering look not to let your capris end in the middle part of your leg. And I understand this concept. However, I will give you some cheaters to this rule!

If your capri pants are a color close to your complexion, then this rule can be ignored. The other factor that will help if you like your capris this length, is to wear shoes that match your skin tone. Like these Amanda Capris from Gloria Vanderbilt.

The Width of Your Capris

The width of the legs of your capri pants can be as different as the leg widths in all the pairs of your jeans. Especially now that this capri trend has continued over the last several years, and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, there are many different varieties.

The tapered leg is probably the best selection for a universally flattering look since it follows the outline of your natural leg as you can see in this Plus Size Tummy-Control Capri.

Plus Size Tummy-Control Capri Pants at Macy’s.

But I would also suggest trying on some of the newer silhouettes out there. Like the cropped flare jeans that I have seen. Your initial reaction may be that they would look awful on you. But remember, you never know until you try them on. I know many of my readers have commented that this style balances out their hips and hides any thicker calves!

Personally, I know my culottes – which I could consider capris in one sense – have been one of my favorite pants to wear when getting dressed up.

Proportion and Fit

The hardest part when wearing shorter pants like capris can be to get the proportions correct. And what looks good on your best friend may not look the same on you. Because not only does the length and width of your pants make a difference, it’s also how the entire outfit looks in total. The proportion of your pants in contrast to the length and fit of your top is paramount!

So, keep in mind the hemline of your shirt when you are trying on your capri pants. Rarely is it the best look where your pants and top are splitting your body into halves. It’s usually better to have one portion be longer than the other.

Therefore, since capris are shorter to start with, then there are many times that it can look better to tuck in your shirts! And for all those women who don’t tuck in their shirts anymore, then maybe try it with a longer shirt like a tunic?

Or you could attempt the half-tuck where the shirt is only tucked in the front of your pants! These suggestions can give you the 1/3 to 2/3 ratio – or 2/3 to 1/3 ratio – that is a great guideline for a pleasing look!

And never forget that the correct fit is important no matter what piece of clothing you’re wearing! I talked in detail about shopping for jeans lately, and this is no different for capris.

Fashion for Older Women Is About Looking Good and Feeling Great

I feel that we all still want to look our best, no matter our age. But that doesn’t mean you can’t break a couple of fashion rules that you grew up believing! Even if you want to wear capris, but think the bottom portion of your legs is too fat, too white, or too riddled with veins, I would like to appeal to you to think differently.

First, I beg each and every one of you to love your body no matter what its shape, color, or scarring. We are blessed to have made it to the age that we are now. And our bodies are to thank for that! Any negativity that we put onto our bodies is unfortunately passed onto the next generations. And I would like to think that we need to build up our confidence, not tear it down!

So, as hard as it is, start telling yourself that you love your body! Warts and all! By practicing this mantra, we can start to change the perception that getting older is a bad thing, since we all know by now that perfection is unobtainable.

Let me be honest in saying that for these photos that I am showing in this article, not all of them are the perfect proportion or length if you go by the “rules.” But I would hope that you would consider that the three of us still look nice! And to me, that should be the predominant consideration when getting dressed every day!

Relaxed cuffed capris from NYDJ

Relaxed cuffed capris from NYDJ

Tricks and Tips

The last element that can make the capri pants easier to wear would be to change the focal point. If you are not sure you love your legs, or the way your outfit came together, think about a statement necklace or earrings. Having a big and bold statement element near your face will have most people concentrate on that part of your body, instead of your legs!

Beaded Hem Pull-On Denim Capris

Beaded Hem Pull-On Denim Capris

How do you feel about capri pants? Are you a fan or have you passed on this trend? What do you think is the essence of fashion for older women? Please share your fashion style thoughts in the comments.

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Looking carefully at the pictures, I understand what Donna is saying about the capri being the little old lady uniform, however I think the pairing with the oversized tops, excessive sleeves, and color blocking on top is the issue herein.
To appear longer and leaner, the bottom and top need to be in the same color group. And if you are on the shorter side do not wear the oversized shirt hanging down, that just makes you look frumpy and old. IF for example one were to wear a white capri or even better white boyfriend jean with a blue and white striped top/tank and or a black and white print or stripe blouse over, or a black jacket or a navy jacket the entire look would be more youthful.
All these pastel colors just say old. A black capri which let’s face it will go with almost every other piece you own, will give you more definition and keep in mind you don’t always need to double layer your top – talk about being too hot!
Want a pop of color? Go for a bright color on your sandals. Keep accessories to a minimum and enjoy summer.


Sorry, but every photo you show looks “old lady” to me (and I’m 60 myself.) No one can tell you not to wear capris – go for it – but your examples only reinforce to me WHY I don’t wear them. I don’t want to wear the Little Old Lady Uniform. As for why midi length skirts don’t make you look dumpy like capris, it is because they flow around the body, they don’t hug the calf and truncate your body like those cropped pants. But mainly the thing that screams Little Old Lady is simply because those are the only women who wear them! Just my opinion, I know you love your capris, so wear them in good health!


So what are the alternatives?I am also 60, short and self conscious about showing out-of-shape legs. And I am going to Cancun with nothing to wear! I don’t do dresses – I am too short and 20 pounds overweight. So dresses with flats or sandals would look hideous. Not to mention Siamese thighs that would cause rashes. Help!


At 78 I consider Capri pants a godsend tp old for shorts to hot for long pants capricorn are the way to go

jodie filogomo

I’m so glad to hear you say this Laura. There’s no reason we can’t wear them and still look great.

The Author

Jodie Filogomo is a retired cosmetic dentist turned style consultant. After over 20 years as a successful dental practitioner, she enhanced her styling talents by taking fashion, interior decorating and design classes. Jodie loves to share with others her passion for putting together outfits for women of all ages. Visit her blog Jodie’s Touch of Style and connect with her on social media.

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