Since some of the best skirt-wearing times of the year are just around the corner, I thought that over the next few days I'd post some FAQ's about the "skirt length rules" and related topics. If you haven't read my original posts, peek before you read on so that "short shinner" and "long shinner" are terms you'll understand! And y'all, listen -- what I'm going to tell you is based upon my fairly extensive experience and education in the garment trade, but these are my opinions, and you're entitled to decide that you disagree. I only ask that you do so respectfully. :-)
Answer: Those measurements aren’t crazy at all for a short-shinner! Measure your upper leg length from the middle of your kneecap upwards to the protruding (you can feel it even you can’t see it) part of your outer hipbone that is just below your bellybutton. To put it another way -- see on this illustration how your pelvis is shaped kind of like an abstract pair of Mickey Mouse ears? You’re measuring from the upper-outer corner of either one of the Mickey Mouse ears (right around what's labeled -- and misspelled -- here as the "spina ilaca"), down to the middle of your kneecap on the same side.
2. Question: "How does the "skirt length rule" apply to wearing shorts?"
Answer: Use the same skirt length rule to determine your optimal shorts length. Short-shinners will look better in shorter shorts. Long-shinners are born to be Bermuda shorts girls.
3. Question: “Is there math to the right length of capris/crop pants? I have never -- as in, ever -- had any idea how long they should be on me...”
Answer: Yep, the same "visual proportioning" rules and some related concepts apply for wearing capris.
Short-shinnersCapri length: To visually correct your proportions, you’re gonna want more of your lower leg to show. So hem or roll your capris so that they stop at the fullest part of your calf, leaving a nice “swell” of calf and showing. Try on a pair of your J. Crew café capris, roll the leg to the length I'm suggesting and look at the difference 2 - 3 inches makes!
Capri leg width: I realize this is mildly controversial, but I promise you, short-shinners, you're going to look better in narrow-legged capris even if you're a girl with some hips. Why? Because the more closely the hem of your capris hugs your legs, the more it appears that your capris and your legs are one nice, elongated visual unit. A wider pants leg visually chops up the line of your leg, much like a skirt hem does.
Long-shinnersCapri length: Your thighs are longer than your calves, so you want to visually shorten your lower leg by having less of it showing. Therefore, your capris are going to look better in a lower-hitting hem -- one that ends between the smaller tapering part of your calf and no less than about 4 inches above the "knob" of your ankle.
Capri leg width: Surprise! Long-shinners, you are ALSO going to look best in a narrower capri leg, but you can successfully carry off a bit more width than your short-shinned friends (say, a stovepipe-shaped pant leg).
And let me just say this to everybody -- again, perhaps igniting a flame war, but I'm sticking to this opinion like Custer's Last Stand: A wide-legged cropped pant is simply not an optimal look on any woman. For that matter, cuffs on a cropped pant of any width aren't great, either -- they add bulk at just the wrong place, unless they're skinnied-up in that mysterious folding trick that J. Crew uses. Promise me that if you're just jonesing to wear wide-legged capris, you'll at least pay close attention to where they're hemmed.
4. Question: "How does your [hemline] rule apply to wearing longer skirts?"
Answer: Just like it applies to capris.
Short-shinnersTo hem a below-the-knee skirt, apply the "capris rules". Allow as much of your lower leg to show as you can without significantly altering the "look" and flow of your skirt.
Long-shinnersApply your "capris rules". Stop the hemline no lower than about 4 inches above the "knob" of your ankle.
That's it for now, y'all. Part 2 coming tomorrow. Stay tuned!