Have your pick of ankle-length pants in any style

Cropped pants are

making hard stops at

the ankle.

The trendlet

Ankle-length pants - whether boyfriend jeans or cotton twill skinnies - are jazzing up the classic blouse, toning down the graphic T, and dressing up the backless yoga tank. Heels are optional.

Where do they come from?

In the 1930s, when pants became an acceptable part of women's wardrobes, hemlines had a habit of breaking at the top of the shoe in standard uniformity. Think Katharine Hepburn's pleated, mens-inspired trousers in 1940's The Philadelphia Story.

By the time the 1950s rolled around, closer-fitting cropped trousers - essentially any pants with a shorter-than-standard hem - were a casual staple. Gauchos (wide, calf-length trousers), clam diggers (cuffed, calf-length pants popular in denim), and capris (very slim-fit, calf-length pants) were all versions of cropped pants.

Toward the end of the 1950s - thanks, Marilyn Monroe and Sandra Dee - the ankle-length cigarette pant was the silhouette du jour. These high-waisted skinnies featured a flat front, and as they grew in popularity, they came in dotted, checked, and plaid patterns.

In the late 1960s, Yves Saint Laurent paired the cigarette pant with his classic fitted blazer - which he called Le Smoking - for a smart tuxedo look for ladies. In the late 1970s, the clipped pants took a backseat to bell-bottoms. Tapered jeans overtook tailored skinny trousers in the 1980s, and the '90s were filled with the pleated and the baggy.

However, in recent years - after what seemed like an endless obsession with khaki capris - vintage-inspired fashions; increased offerings of relaxed preppy trousers courtesy of J.Crew, Theory, and Vince; as well as the growing popularity of ankle-length trousers have created a new appreciation for slightly truncated trousers.

Who is wearing them?

Rihanna does her cigarette silhouette in denim. Janelle Monae works them in tuxedo suits, and the Olsen twins like (and make) joggers.

Would Elizabeth wear them?

Yes, although on me, at just 5-foot-3, the shorter lengths appear standard. They do hit my ankle sweet spot in petite, but I feel like I have to wear heels with them.

Should you wear them?

Sure, ankles offend no one. But take the time to focus on your footwear. Consider contrast. A cobalt-blue pump will pop with a black-and- white windowpane cigarette pant. But a dusty rose ballet flat adds quieter flourish.




Paige Transcend Skyline skinny jeans, $179; BCBGeneration Tapered ankle pants, $68; Theory Tralpin Admiral Crepe Drawstring Pants, $285; BCBGeneration, Patchwork Print Pants, $78. All pants available at Bloomingdale's at the King of Prussia and Willow Grove Park Malls, www.bloomingdales.com.