Poll: Ankle-Length Pants and the Office

So here’s the tricky thing about office style:  it changes from time to time.  We’ve talked before on this blog about how I’m a big fan of bootcut trousers because I think they’re the most flattering look — and how I think “shorter” pants (capris, floodies, pedal pushers, whatever you want to call them) are unacceptable for the office.  (Ain’t No Mom Jeans — totally unrelated to office style! — had a highly amusing post on them recently.)  But.  But!  There are a ton of gorgeous ankle-length pants out there right now, and I’m seeing them more and more often with suits — from both conservative brands and not so conservative brands.  Take, for example, this gorgeous Elizabeth and James suit (which was very nearly yesterday’s Suit of the Week).  One of my guest posters last year even said she thought the J.Crew Minnie was a wardrobe staple! (Is it just me or is J.Crew showing the Minnie pant ridiculously tight on the models this year?)  So ladies, I thought it was time for a poll:  do you think ankle-length pants are acceptable for a conservative office, where (on any given day) 50% or more of the people may be in a full-on suit?  Do you think they’re great for a more casual (pants and blouse) look, but hate them with suits?  Do tell.

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  1. Can someone help me find the shoes from this picture? I think I’m in love…

  2. Anonymous :

    There’s a difference between intentional, fashiony crops as part of an intentional, fashiony, polished avant look and a pair of cat-lady-on-vacation crops. One is going out of your way to be on-the-ball bfore most people you know even know it’s the ball. The other is easy-going easy-peasy sloppy mainstream sweetness. This difference–between so-on-it-you-don’t-even-know and so-not-into-it-I-can’t-bother, is not apparent to most people in most offices. They think you’re slumming it when you’re stertching yourneck into tip-of-the-top territory. And in some places and contexts, being avant is just as undesirable as being lazy low-brow.

    Ergo, for most of us, most of the time, no go. Fashion is language and if no one understands what you’re saying, it’s a semiotic fashion fail.

    • Motoko Kusanagi :

      I don’t understand what you are saying.

      • You can be so fashion forward that mpst people think you are just behind the times. And professional attire is more about being in the trend (or classics) than ahead of the trend-curve.


      • I think what Anonymous is saying is that ankle pants, while considered cutting edge fashion in some circles, may be easily confused with casual and sometimes sloppy-looking cropped pants like the ones my mom wears to the gym or grocery store with her clogs. I don’t necessarily agree, but I do think there is something whimsical about ankle pants that isn’t necessarily appropriate in all work situations.

    • ChocCityB&R :

      This is so freaking funny. I have no idea what you are trying to say.

    • For the record, I love my cats and I would rather die than wear a pair of cargo capris.

      Why doesn’t anyone ever make fun of dog lovers? Because I see a lot of them walking their dogs in sweatpants with messy hair and OMG, ew, you should never wear sweatpants outside the house. F-ing dog ladies, amirite?

  3. Seriously though, those shoes are all I can think about. I’d appreciate it if they weren’t 325 bucks.

  4. Barrister in the Bayou :

    I’ll risk criticism on my outfit choice and for being a tumblr’ette to show you guys the cropped pants that I wore to my small casual law office this Monday.

    The angle is a little awkward, but I struggled with lighting and retaining some anonymity.


    • Very cute!

    • karenpadi :

      I like! Those look like my navy cropped pants. Nordies?

      • Barrister in the Bayou :

        The Limited! I hadn’t been in there in years, so I was surprised.

    • My supervising attorney surprised me by wearing terrific NY&Co cropped ankle pants not once, but twice last week. And she let me photograph her wearing them for my blog. I think they can be a terrific alternative to skirts and slacks, but they have to fit well and be styled with conservative separates and accessories.

  5. I have a BR suit and I bought the ankle length pants to go with it on super sale. So I have the skirt, and full length pants that I normally wear. But I actually feel really sharp when I wear it with the ankle-length pants. I always make sure I’m wearing a pretty blouse and my blazer, and keep everything else pretty conservative. But I still wouldn’t wear them somewhere I needed to be super conservative. I’m in the law, and I think a good rule is not to wear them anywhere you feel you should be wearing hose, i.e. Court, meeting new clients, etc.

  6. I’m a twig. I have a theory suit with cigarette pants and get compliments all the time on it

  7. This can be a very sophisticated look if the styling and sizing is right. I’d wear this style all the time since it makes you stand out as more fashion-forward, but again with proviso that you got sizing and proportion right. I don’t think you need to be tall or terribly thin to pull this off, just make sure that the size hits you in all the right places.

  8. I’m short and the J. Crew cafe “capri” hits just below my ankle bone. I count that as reasonable for my office (not super formal), particularly with ballet flats, never with heels. I think anything more than 1/2″ above the ankle bone ends up looking a little too weekend, and sharp, clean tailoring is critical.

  9. I’m a young associate at a mid-sized law firm with a business dress code (or very dressy business casual), and nine months ago I got hit by the car outside a courthouse. A crazy old man made an illegal turn through a crosswalk, literally turning my right leg and foot into powder. (Not a good thing when your surgeon refers to your bones as “pulverized”). The week before the accident I rocked 5 inch platforms in a wedding (I’m 5’3″), but now…? No heels or wedges for me ever again. My foot simply doesn’t bend that way. I say all this to say, Jcrew’s cute ankle style suits are one of the only ways I can wear flats to court without looking simply ridiculous and no one ever seems to care. Of course, the Frankenstein scars on my foot are kind of a dead give away that heels might be a no no, but still- sometimes this style is appropriate and, dare I say, cute?

  10. I have a 22″ inseam. I’m never going to find slim ankle pants.

    • I have a 24″ inseam and have all mine tailored.

    • Whoah, how tall are you?

      I’m just under 5’2 and I need 30″ for ankle pants, and 31.5″ for regular pants, and 33 or so for pants that I wear with heels. I also frequent tailors, because petite pants are just a smidge too short, so they flop around my ankles, and regular pants are obviously too long. I’m at the weird spot in the middle.

  11. I wear suits every day at my office (small downtown firm) and I wear black theory ankle length pants on occasion; however I always pair them with conservative-everything-else, like a white blouse, black jacket, black heels.

  12. I’ve been getting ankle pants in addition to regular length plus skirts for any given jacket and find I like them a lot. I’m comfortable to wear them in pretty much every setting where a suit is required including fund-raising and board meetings, and find they add a lot of flexibility to travel outfits because they dress down with a cardigan, and dress up for dinner with a brocade top, velvet flats and jewelry. I’m in my 40s and a senior professional, and the pants in question are dressy (cuffed, knife pleats, visibly part of a suit).

  13. lawsuited :

    So, cigarette pants are my jam – I have a properly tailored pair to go with each of my suits and wear them (with matching suit jacket in the same fabric) to meetings, interviews and court as I would any other suit.

    I have more fitted cigarettes pants in cotton twill and velveteen which I wear with a shell or blouse and coordinating blazer (in a different fabric – velveteen suit? Yikes!) or cardigan on casual days.

    Note: For me, ankle length means that the hem hits my ankle bone and none of my leg is showing. No capris here.

  14. I think it’s a know your office and environment thing. We’re business casual and I see a lot of cute ankle pants. Plus, if you want or need to wear flats, ankle pants in an “office” fabric just seem to look better than full-length pants.

    My boss wears ankle pants all the time, and believe me, no one takes her any less seriously.

  15. I just bought two pairs of these ankle length pants at Target for about $25 each. I loved it and my office is business casual but after reading these comments I am starting to doubt myself. I think it’s appropriate for my office but most of you guys are saying that they’re ugly. Oh no!!!!

  16. I tried ankle length at the office yesterday with cute cut out black kitten heels. When I left the house I felt great, but then I saw a reflection of myself in the glass walking in and it wasn’t good. Too tight and not flattering on my 5’2 curvy self. I bought another pair of black pants at lunch and changed.

  17. This ankle length looks ridiculous on me. I am 5’6 and curvy with big thighs, and I look like a clown with ill-fitting clothes, so this is not going to work for me in anyway! I would never ever wear this to office!