This summer, give me capri pants. I don’t want to show off my upper thighs in some cheek-revealing Daisy Dukes, nor do I want to be sweaty and constricted in a pair of suffocatingly thick jeans. But what I will do is show off a sliver of ankle—and maybe a bit of shin!—with capris. Recently, I unearthed a pair of capris from the Swedish store Weekday—black with a tiny slit in the front—that felt light as paper. I threw on a pair of thong heels and a halter top and felt immediately like a dream babe from anywhere between the late ’90s and early ’00s.
In the present, however, you don’t see very many capris on the runway. There was a whisper of one from the Chanel spring 2021 show, and they came cropped and kicky in a sassy shade of red. But that scarcity wasn’t always the case: For the spring collections in 1998, capris dotted the runways of Anna Sui and Prada. Currently, I’ve been on the hunt for a vintage rendition, digging into eBay and Etsy for freaky-chic, print-heavy capris from Blumarine, Roberto Cavalli, and Versace. And while current capri moments are rare, I am not the only one dreaming of them. Devon Lee Carlson of Wildflower Cases, who also happens to be a major thrifter and noughties fanatic, posted a recent Instagram of herself wearing a capri look that felt plucked out of a Y2K-era Delia’s catalog. She opted for a going-out top, thong heels, and white loose capri pants. The getup brings me back to a specific spread in the 1998 March issue of Vogue that shows a range of capris that were considered “The Look of The Moment: Get Shorty.” Then editor Katherine Betts sung the praises of the “pedal pushers” and “clam diggers,” writing, “for a modern twist, go techno and sport a high-heel mule for instant sex appeal.”
That’s the beauty of the capri pant: They can be universally styled, whether that is elevated, dressed down, or funked up. This is the same piece that was favored by ’50s and ’60s starlets like Brigitte Bardot and Marilyn Monroe. Audrey Hepburn is all but synonymous with the style. Google her name, and you’ll undoubtedly see the swanlike actress wearing black capri pants with a pair of ballet flats.
Yet, capris can be really, really hot and not only classic. And if the yesteryear runways aren’t convincing enough, just look to J.Lo. In 2005, at the end of the fall show for her now defunct Sweetface label, Lopez wore a pair of white capris with a cropped white turtleneck. It’s totally glamorous with a hint of kitsch and fun. A capri goes with, well, everything and everyone.