What to wear with skinny pants
I read with great interest your comments on proper length for blue jeans. I am about 3/4 of an inch too tall for most petite pants, which means the regulars are about 4 inches too long. I'm still not sure where to find jeans of the proper length, but I have a renewed commitment not to settle for ones that are too short (I usually rationalize that at least I won't have to worry about tripping!).
I have a related question about length for dress pants. I have two pairs of slacks that I purchased within the past four years, a salt and pepper tweed and plain black. Both pairs are straight legs with side vents. What are the rules for length? What sort of heel should I be wearing with them? Are people even wearing straight leg pants with side vents? I would really appreciate your guidance! For the record, I was wearing both of them with flats, but then those shoes bit the dust and I've not been wearing them much since they look a little odd with my two inch heels.
It's funny that Heather would ask this just now, because I feel lately like everywhere I go I am seeing women whose pants are the wrong length for their shoes. And it drives me batty for some reason. I have issues.
Fortunately, my issues are what enables me to do this job! So let's talk about pants length, and what the SHAPE of the pants has to do with how long they should be.
In general, the rule about pants and heels is this: your hem should fall about a quarter of an inch from the floor when you have your shoes on. With flats, your pants should break slightly over the top of your foot, but should NOT be so long that you are walking on them in the back. This is true for jeans and chinos and wool trousers and anything else you might wear.
Pants of any sort that are hemmed for flats can NOT be worn with heels. Ever. The ONE exception to this is cropped pants, which can be worn with flats OR heels, as long as the hem falls close to the ankle bone. Otherwise, you need to pick a hem length and live with it.
Heather says that the pants she is specifically concerned about have a "straight" leg. This can mean one of two things -- either they are the same width all the way up (neither tapered nor flared) OR they are what we call "skinny pants." If these are trousers that are the same width from the widest part (the hip, say) then the quarter-of-an-inch rule holds, and as long as they are hemmed properly, they can be worn with a heel.
But if they are skinny pants, with a truly STRAIGHT leg, then the rules are different. Skinny pants are best with a flat shoe -- yes, I know, you see celebrities wearing them with heels ALL THE TIME, and if you're a celebrity then have at it, and also hire me to be your stylist please! But for the rest of us mere mortals, pairing skinny pants with a high heel, even with the right hem length, usually just leads to ankles swathed in bunched up fabric. Not a good look.
Instead, pair your very slim or skinny pants with a ballet flat or something with a slightly rounded toe; this is one look that doesn't work with the pointy toed flat. As with longer pants, the hemline should break only slightly across the front of the foot.
In the end, I think that Heather needs to invest in some great new flats, either ballet flats or peep toes, to wear with these pants. And you have got to love any answer that ends with YOU MUST GO SHOE SHOPPING, right?