Difference Between Capri & Ankle Pants

Updated November 21, 2016

Capri pants and ankle trousers are both popular women's fashion trends. They have been fashionable since the 1950s, the era of poodle skirts and A-line dresses. Capri pants and ankle trousers differ in style and length, but together represent the trend toward comfort and away from traditional dresses such as those found in the early to mid 1900s.

History of the Capri Pant

In 1948, fashion designer Sonja de Lennart developed the first capri pant. She had designed a line of skirts and belts a few years earlier and named the clothing line after her favourite vacation destination, the island of Capri in Italy. The capri pant was a new and cutting-edge fashion piece, featuring a length and style of pant not yet shown before on fashion runways. The capri pant was embraced by women seeking more daring fashion choices, and, once popularised by celebrities, the trend took off.

Definition of the Capri Pant

Capri pants are distinguishable by their length. They are typically three-quarter's length and end mid-calf or just below the calf. They can be worn either in a tight-fitting style or a looser style. They have been referred to as "clam diggers" or "long shorts," though their length is generally closer to that of trousers rather than shorts.

Popular Culture

The capri pant style was embraced by popular icons such as Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy and Mary Tyler Moore. Audrey Hepburn wore them in the 1954 film "Sabrina," which started the fashion craze. Mary Tyler Moore further popularised them on "The Dick Van Dyke Show," where her character, Laura Petrie, wore them in the home. Capri pants became an instant fashion hit.

Men's Capri Pants

Although historically known as a women's style only, men's capri pants picked up popularity in Europe and Latin America. Currently, men wear capri pants during warmer weather seasons throughout the world. They are not usually referred to as "capri pants," but rather as "long shorts," and they are commonly found in a looser, relaxed style.

Definition of the Ankle Pant

Women's ankle trousers are, by definition, ankle-length. They are generally straight legged and usually tight fitting. Also known as cigarette trousers or pencil trousers, they sometimes feature a slit or a zipper at the ankle. An ankle pant is not to be confused with a pant leg that is simply too short for the person wearing it. Ankle trousers are cut to be ankle length, and the purchaser must ensure the length is correct for her leg.

History of the Ankle Pant

Women's ankle trousers became popular in the 1930s. Leaving behind the bustles and trains of women's haute couture from the early 1900s, women's clothing trended toward more comfortable daytime wear, including trousers in easy-to-maintain fabrics such as cotton and rayon. The Depression era saw fewer women in glamorous daytime dresses, fewer servants in the home and more women in practical trousers doing their own household chores. Ankle trousers were both feminine and conservative. They allowed a flattering silhouette, but did not show too much leg to be inappropriate for the era.

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About the Author

Sharon Harleigh has been writing for various online publications since 2008. She specializes in business, law, management and career advice. Harleigh is a proud graduate of UCLA and Loyola Law School.