Open Thread: Trouser Lengths for Women

 Open Thread: Trouser Lengths for Women


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What is the correct trouser lengths for ladies? Where should pants hit with heels and flats? We haven’t talked about this in a while… so let’s discuss!

(Stay tuned for a future roundup of the correct trouser lengths with FLATS, which can be tricky as well!)

{related: do check out our regularly updated list of wardrobe essentials for work!}

The Correct Trouser Lengths for Women

Trousers are hugely popular right now, as ankle pants have taken a back seat to full-length pants such as wide leg trousers and flared or bootcut dress pants. Full length pants can be problematic, though, because it can be difficult to find the correct hem length for you — and one that works with all of your work shoes.

{related: a guide to suiting alterations}

General Tips on How to Choose Your Pant Length

Before You Take Your Pants to the Tailor or Hem Them Yourself…

You may want to launder the pants first (particularly if they’re machine washable), because sometimes fabrics can shrink or expand in the wash, and you really won’t know until you launder the pants.

You should also pick out a pair of shoes to try on your pants — ideally these would be THE shoes you plan to wear with the pants. If you have multiple shoes with the exact same heel height then you can switch up your shoes, but in general you cannot switch between, say, flats and heels with hemmed pants.

One possible exception here: I have often found that pants that I hemmed for very low kitten heels can be worn with flats as well… but your mileage may vary.

{related: the perfect pants fit — not too tight, not too loose}

How to Commute With Pants Hemmed for Heels

Perhaps you would really like to wear 3″ heels at work with your pants… but you don’t want to commute in 3″ heels. The easiest way to deal with this is to have heeled commuting shoes — generally fairly fugly shoes that have the correct height but are much more walkable. Then, when you get to work, you can swap the fugly shoes for your office shoes. Some brands to consider: FLY LondonDansko, Eileen FisherBørn.

There are occasionally products like clips that can help you hem your pants on the go… in my experience these don’t look great. (I can’t actually find any on the market right now, let me know if you know of any!) But: if you have a weather-related emergency, you can always try binder clips to help your pants avoid getting wet (or, you know, tuck them into your socks if that’s an option). Again, these aren’t ideal situations, but with some expensive or favorite pairs of pants it’s worth looking odd for one commute rather than have that one commute kill your hem.

Where Should Pants Hit With Heels?

(When choosing pants for the illustrations here, we’re going with the description from the retailer on whether the pants are wide leg, flared, bootcut, or straight leg… but I’ll admit at the outset that there could be some crossover here between a lot of the categories.)

Most images are linked to either the product page or the Corporette post discussing the product…

Also, as noted above, stay tuned for a discussion of proper hem length with flats…

The Correct Length for Wide-Leg Pants with Heels

This is what I would say is the correct length for wide-leg pants worn with heels… would you agree? (These images are all taken from recent Workwear Reports, I’ll try to add the links later… you can also check out our latest favorite wide leg pants for work at the bottom, or check out the full post on the best wide leg pants to wear to work!)

My $.02: the correct wide leg pants should hit about a half inch above the floor at the back of the shoe / heel, and it should at least cover most of your vamp / top of foot (perhaps down to the point where your toes meet the rest of your foot), with a break in the pants.

So, for example, for the pants below, the plaid pair is definitely too short because there is no break in the pants, whereas the black pair has a break but the hem is dragging along the floor. The orange pair is ALMOST the correct length, but in an ideal world I’d hem it maybe half an inch more to cover more of the forefoot (and to get a break in the pants).

Readers, what say you?

Below: 1) Almost Just Right 2) Too Short 3) Too Long

{related: the best shoes to wear with wide leg pants}

The Correct Length for Flared Pants with Heels

I feel like it’s much more common to see more casual flared pants (such as jeans or pull-on pants) as opposed to flared trousers, so it can be tricky to know where the hem should hit for a work outfit.

With the examples below, I think it’s very easy to see how the “too short” and “too long” examples are just that… but finding the correct hem length can be a bit more difficult. I’ve finally decided to use these Spanx pants, which I think showcase a lot of the things I would say is the correct length for flared pants with heels — the pants are not dragging on the floor, there is no huge break, and you can’t see the entire shoe… still, I might like to see these a smidge shorter, such as a quarter of an inch.

(These Gap pants also look good, but I think you can see too much of the heel and forefoot… but it’s a tricky question!)

What say you, readers?

Below: 1) Almost Just Right 2) Too Short 3) Too Long

The Correct Length for Bootcut Pants with Heels

Bootcut pants are some of the most forgiving, I think, because a lot of the lengths look OK. I think ultimately the Good American ones look just right because there is no break in the pant, but the hem is not dragging on the floor — and I like how it hits the forefoot right at the point where the metatarsals meet the phalanges. (I’ll admit, I just Googled “toe bones” for that description…)

Meanwhile, the middle pair look too short — there’s way too much of the shoe heel showing — and the gray pair (McQueen) is going to be dragging on the ground.

Below: 1) Just Right 2) Too Short 3) Too Long

The Correct Length for Straight-Cut Trousers with Heels

Getting the hem correct on straight-cut trousers is the hardest, I think… looking through some of the options, though, that may be because it can be more a sense of personal style compared with the others. For example, of the three pants below, I think all of them could be a good hem length, even though Option A is just below the ankle bone, Option B hits at the top of your foot (but without a break), and Option C is hemmed to just above the ankle bone (but feels a bit longer to me than “ankle pants” or cropped pants).

What say you, readers?

Below, all “just right”: Options A, B, and C

Some Of Our Latest Favorite Trousers for Women

The Best Dress Pants for Women in General

The Best Wide Leg Pants for Women

Hunting for more wide-leg pants to wear to work? We just rounded some up — general favorites include pleated pairs like Favorite Daughter, Everlane*, Reformation*, and Abercrombie*, with flat-front pairs from Good American,* M.M.LaFleur, and Ann Taylor. (* = plus sizes; see the post for notes on petites and talls). We’ve also shared our thoughts on what shoes to wear with wide leg pants! Our latest favorite wide-leg pants include these (as of 2024):


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