Do Capris & Shorts Make Me Look Fat?

From the book “100 Ways to Look Fat” – Baloney Concept #3 – “Capris and longer shorts make you look fat.”  NOT NECESSARILY!

Capris and walking shorts are a classier look for gals of a certain age than shorter shorts.  They become a pounds-on look only when the pant legs flare out away from your body.  Your eye follows the side seams outward, adding visual width and the wider hemline creates a horizontal line that subtracts height – not usually a flattering effect.

But when the legs taper inward the look is trim and elongating.  No added width, and a shorter, less distracting  horizontal at the hem.

tapered capris

In the two line drawings below, see how the horizontal line A seems longer that the corresponding horizontal line B?  And the vertical line X seems shorter than corresponding vertical Y?  Those geometric shapes correspond to the wider and more tapered shorts and capris!  What a difference, right?

taper diagram

About Nancy Nix Rice

I help other women feel confident about how they look every day - regardless of their age, budget, lifestyle or the size tag in their pants - so they put wardrobe concerns on the back burner and go share their gifts with the world.


  1. pat brodeen on September 16, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    Thanks for the refresher on good proportion

  2. Diana on September 16, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    I agree about the shape of the pant leg, unfortunately few women wear capris that actually fit them! If the lady has a big bottom, then the legs on their purchased capris will be too wide and they don’t have them altered because they were a great buy. Most capris I have seen are the wrong length on the women wearing them and the length invariably makes the leg look shorter by cutting it in half. So my comment on capris is not that they necessarily make you look heavy, but in order to not look horrible, THEY MUST FIT PROPERLY. And if you have short legs – don’t wear them.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on September 16, 2015 at 6:12 pm

      You are so right that any garment must fit properly to be flattering! But when things don’t look good, most women think the answer is to run out and buy something else (which very likely will have the same fit problem) instead of investing in a simple alteration. I often clients they don’t need more stuff – they need the RIGHT STUFF. And it is often just a simple tweak that can make all the difference.
      I do have to disagree about short legs though. At 5’3″ I am definitely a shortie, but love the look of capris when the end at the right spot.

  3. Lisa M. H. Taylor on September 16, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Where should the length end if you have larger calves and thick ankles? or Should you just not where them at all?

    • Nancy Nix Rice on September 16, 2015 at 6:18 pm

      The ideal spot is where your calf gets tapered – if you measure (or just eyeball) from the crease behind your knee to the fullest part of your calf that’s about half-way to that taper spot – and yet still comfortably above your ankle.

      Of course you don’t have to wear capris at all, but long pants can get both too hot in the summer and boring if you wear them every day. And shorter shorts can be challenging for mature figures. So tapered capris can be a great alternative.

  4. Sue P. on September 16, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    LOL! I would never have guessed you to be that short, Nancy–your advice works. Amen to tapering the legs of capris. They cover up my big knees, and look great.

    I am just finishing what was supposed to be a straight skirt instead of an A-line skirt, following your advice. Wanted a simple design in linen, but big saddlebags and thighs made the skirt ride up too high when sitting, and making the skirt wider starts to make it look wider than it is long, since I’m shorter than you. Didn’t want a center pleat or vent in front or back.

    So, I put inverted pleats in the side seams up to the hipline, and hemmed it an inch below the widest diameter of my calves. Straight up and down side seams seemed boring, didn’t want the A-line shape, so angled the seams out only very slightly. Wow! The tiny angle is much better than an A-line, making hips look narrower w/o cutting off the legs at the hem, the pleats give sitting and moving space, and from the side the long pleat makes me look very skinny. And pleased. Thanks!

    • Nancy Nix Rice on September 16, 2015 at 9:52 pm

      Wow indeed – what a great job of adapting a general concept to your specific situation.

    • Stephanie Wright on July 27, 2021 at 9:12 am

      I do something similar. A -lines don’t look great on me. I am a pear shape and this is contrary to most advice. I take a ‘straight’ or pencil shirt, size it up, add a couple of pleats to adjust the waist size and then taper some. It gives me room to sit and seems most flattering on me.

      • Nancy Nix Rice on July 27, 2021 at 9:47 am

        Retail loves A-lines because they are an easier fit (therefore easier sale), not because they are flattering at all. Your modification sounds perfect!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.