Where Should Dress Pants Fall?

Actress Maggie Q rocks her fitted dress pants.

Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Whether you're on your way to that job interview you've been anxious about for days or to a semi-formal cocktail party at that trendy new lounge downtown, dress pants are an easy, chic way to dress yourself up without a lot of fuss. Not to be mistaken as un-sexy or too boyish, dress pants (when they fit properly) are flattering, feminine and much more versatile. But how do you know where they should fall? Lucky for you, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Just Above the Ground

When wide-leg trousers are high waisted, cuffed and creased, they should fall long. Too short, and these will appear unflattering, cutting your leg too soon and making them look inches shorter than they are. They should just skim the ground, but not be long enough for your stilettos to get caught -- that's an unfashionable and potentially dangerous situation waiting to happen. When standing straight up, the pants should cover the shoes completely -- and with sky high heels, your legs will look like they go on for miles!

At the Ankle

Take a cue from Audrey Hepburn (you'll never go wrong) with a dressy, cigarette pant -- a style that has remained stylish throughout the years. Pants like this can be just as dressy as a flared trouser, as long as the fabric is more on the formal side (think silk, not jersey) and not overly tight-fitting when it comes to your thighs and bottom. A tapered, black skinny pant that stops just around the ankle, paired with a pointed toe black pump and silk blouse or button-down is a timeless, classy look that can take you straight from a work function to a hot date. The way these pants fit is very important, however (too tight or too loose will ruin the overall look), so be sure to try them on in the dressing room first.

Before the "Scrunch"

A super modern, masculine-chic, tuxedo suit may be a pretty difficult look to pull off, but the length is definitely not. The pants should fall below the ankle and above the heel. Choose simple, classic pumps that don't interfere with the draping of the pants over the shoe. But since there are many different shoes, the basic rule with pants like this is go to the tailor and have them hemmed just to the point where they don't crease -- so essentially, right below the ankle. At the line where the pant starts to scrunch, you know they're too long.

At Mid-Calf

Wearing a slouch pant calls for some serious, laid-back style confidence. This style will be roomier in the hips while becoming more fitted as they reach the knee and beyond. They'll gather around mid-calf, resulting in a low-maintenance but refined look that looks effortlessly cool, especially when you pair it with an off-the-shoulder, embellished top, sleek hairdo and oversize sunglasses. If these fall too short or too long, they'll look all wrong and lose their special, subtle "harem pant" quality, so keep it between the knee and the ankle. With patent ballet flats, espadrille wedges or fierce gladiator heels, this look can take you from a day at the office to happy hour cocktails.

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