The Capri Pants Compromise


This morning I asked my daughter, “Do you know what capris are?” “Yeah,” she said. “Short pants.”

Pre-kids, my husband and I went on a wonderful trip to Italy. All the good things you’ve heard are all true. The food really is magical; I particularly remember a three-hour dinner where the wine was like water and the food was 9 courses of homegrown, slow-cooked culinary delights. Our shared table of delighted travelers from throughout the world was full of different languages accompianied by the relaxed smiles of people who know that they’re experiencing something special.

The hills of Tuscany made me feel like royalty; a princess surveying my land of opportunity. The architecture of Rome and art of Florence left me feeling small, yet part of something big. The people were beautiful – kind, sophisticated and fashionable – without overtly trying to be, unlike our over-sexualized and loud American culture. Italy is a sunny, wholesome jewel in my memory. All my senses were alive there.


Then, in the midst of all the romance and idiosyncrasy that is Italy, there it was. As my husband and I sat, people watching on the Ponte Vecchio – the famous bridge and major tourist trap in Florence – we saw dozens and dozens of pairs of legs with just the bottom few inches of the lower leg exposed. All sporting white tennis shoes and, wait for it…capri pants. That scourge of female fashion, the capri is the lukewarm length garment between shorts and pants. “It’s easy to identify the Americans,” my husband said with a look like he smelled something bad. There were our people, unabashedly valuing comfort over style, in the middle of one of the most stylish and amazing cities in the world. And they stood out, not in a good way.


Our modern world is filled with an ever increasing assortment of options for all the many decisions we have to make. And it can be tough to decide between two options that seem to be evenly matched with pros and cons. So we often do the lazy thing, or the cowardly thing, and we try to play a middle ground. We don’t want to close off either option so we don’t commit to either.

“We can have it ALL!” we think. “We don’t have to deal with the heat of  pants in the summer weather, and yet…no one has to see our dimpled thighs or purple spider veins! It’s the perfect mix of everything I want…comfort and coverage!” Um, no.

Let’s be honest. Capris are unflattering. Women wear them because women dress for other women, and we simply cannot have them seeing our flaws. It’s better to PRETEND that we wouldn’t actually choose to wear shorts even if our legs looked like Stacey Kiebler’s from Dancing with the Stars.

Men hate them. (Feel free to debate, but I’ve heard it from a lot of guys- and I recently discovered there are dozens of websites devoted to the topic!) They see them for what they are: a less-than-flattering garment for the lower half, that women cling to despite any evidence that they may not be the ideal choice. An unfortunate compromise.  This isn’t meant to be a dicsussion about females relating to men or feminist issues or anything like that. I’m just saying that the best-of-both-worlds middle ground is often an illusion that we talk ourselves into. Our brothers and husbands and guy friends are not so fooled when it comes to this topic.

Commit one way or the other. When it’s warm out, wear some modest shorts (or how about a lovely skirt?) and be proud (men are less critical of our flaws than we are ourselves); or if you want some coverage, wear a pair of pants that doesn’t cut off your leg mid calf and make you look a little bit like you’re ready for the flood.

True confession: I do own capris. And I actually feel kind of cute in them (I’m coming out of the disillusionment…) Will I be cleaning them out of my closet any time soon? No. But will I be rushing to Kohl’s to scoop up the latest khaki capris on sale? No. And I won’t wear them on dates with my husband. Or to Italy. Or under the illusion that they are fashionable or flattering. They are what they are, a comfort-providing compromise.

Sometimes the idea that we can have it all, that the best choice between two options is simply to take the middle ground, is a farce. It makes me think of the verse where Jesus called out a compromising church in Revelation 3:16, “So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” The circumstance the verse was referring to was certainly different, but the application is similiar. Whether it’s regarding fashion, or something far more important, it’s usually better to commit one way or another.

Save your capris for a night in.


  1. This whole article makes me laugh! I happen to own a few pairs of capris that I feel cute in. I also wore jean skirts long after they went out of style… Oh well. Great analogy for life though 🙂

    • I’m so glad it made you laugh, it was supposed to! It certainly stirred up some debate on my Facebook page, LOL! People LOVE their capris. You’re always beautiful… 🙂