“What it all comes down to for me is silhouette. You have to have the right balance,” says Susie Crippen, a devotee of cropped pants, former creative director of J Brand, and a designer of her year old-label, Crippen. The resort collection, in fact, is almost exclusively abbreviated bottoms paired with Crippen’s signature cool, relaxed tunics, T-shirts, and blouses. It all evokes a laid-back California lifestyle that Susie, who is based in Los Angeles and recently bought a place in idyllic Ojai, embodies. But how to wear trousers cut above the ankle—and how much ankle is chic, anyway—is not always obvious, especially once the weather cools. Vogue.com asked the designer for her expert opinion. “Your shoe choice,” she says, “is very important.”
When wearing skinny cropped pants . . .
1. The leg needs to be short: I am five foot five and I get all my inseams hemmed to 25 inches so there is a good amount of skin showing. I am convinced this makes me look taller.
2. The leg opening should be as narrow as possible. Have them taken in if necessary.
3. On the subject of tops and shoes, a good heel, like my white Céline pump, works with an oversize men’s shirt. I like the contrast of feminine with masculine.
4. With a simple T-shirt, I wear a statement flat sandal that has a bit of flash.
5. In snow or rain, I love pairing skinny cropped pants with a short engineer boot, oversize sweater, and a good raincoat.
When wearing wide-leg cropped pants . . .
1. This is my new favorite shape. I am all about playing with the notion of clothes that are oversize and still sexy. It reminds me of pictures of Lauren Bacall and Katharine Hepburn in the forties. There are so many great flats and booties out there right now that make it easy to create a really feminine look with a looser trouser or jean.
2. Even more than with skinnies, the inseam has to be short enough to make them looked cropped—not just poorly hemmed. Above the ankle is my hard and fast rule.
3. This fall, I can’t want to wear them with a fitted sweater to make the look a bit more sexy.
4. Wide-leg pants are also great with a midheel like Roger Vivier.