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What are Cropped Pants?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 21, 2024
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Cropped pants are jeans, trousers, or capris that aren't full length. These short pants styles may end just below the knee or at the upper or mid calf. Capri cropped pants may end anywhere on the calf. Capris were named after the Isle of Capri on Italy's Amalfi Coast where they were first worn. Crop pants became very popular in the United States in the 1950s; they were known as clam diggers or pedal pushers.

The shorter length of cropped pants makes them ideal for bicycle riding. Longer pant legs may become tangled in the bike's chain. Shorter pants help avoid that possibility of tangling as well as allow the lower legs unrestricted pedaling room. Clam diggers were sold in the 1950s as beach or summer crop pants.

The earlier pedal pushers and clam diggers inspired the later bike shorts that appeared in the 1990s. Bike, or cycling, shorts are much shorter than cropped pants and fit higher on the upper leg than Bermuda shorts. Bermuda, or walking, shorts fit just at or slightly above the knee. Whereas bike shorts fit close to the body and are stretchy, other short and crop pant styles may be either snug or loose fitting.

Both men and women wear cropped pants, although there is usually more length options in women's styles. Men's crop pants tend to be ankle or lower calf length. Crop casual men's pants are often worn in the summer with sandals. In the 1930s, wool knicker pants were popular looks for boys. Knicker crop pants puff out at the sides and taper into a snug fit just below the knee.

Cropped pants are especially flattering on body types with leaner legs. The part of the leg below the hem of crop pants is accentuated as the eye is drawn there. People with heavier calves or ankles may find crop pants that end just below the knee more flattering. Knee length pants are also good for shorter people or those with short legs, as this look creates the illusion of a longer body overall.

Crop pants are available in a wide variety of fabrics. Denim cropped jeans are a good summer alternative to a regular full length jean. Stretchy fabrics in shorter pants create a fit close to the body, while cotton trouser style capris are baggier. Cropped collots are very wide legged short pants that almost look like a skirt.

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Discussion Comments
By anon267381 — On May 10, 2012

I like wearing cropped jeans in summer. I also love wearing wool cropped pants with thick leggings in winter.

By behaviourism — On Dec 10, 2010

I am currently living in Europe, and one trend I have noticed is that even in the cold of winter, with snow falling and the wind blowing, many women will wear cropped jeans or wool cropped pants with thick tights underneath, and pair them with boots. While I like this style, I think it'd be too cold to wear myself, and I don't think it will catch on easily in the US. Some younger women, especially high school girls, even do this with very short shorts- not exactly dressing for the weather!

By panda2006 — On Dec 09, 2010

Cropped pants are a great style in warm weather, because they come in so many different materials. Denim cropped pants can look both casual and stylish, while something like cotton or linen cropped pants can look very casual. Some styles can even look nice enough for more formal occasions, with the right accessories.

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