THE IN-BETWEEN PANT
The switch from summer to autumn calls for a new approach to dressing. Cooler temperatures demand more layers, but it’s still too balmy for chunky knitwear and investment coats. When the seasons change and what to wear feels like a minefield, Art Director, Designer and Author Zeena Shah turns to one reliable style – the in-between pant. Here, she discusses how this versatile piece helped her master trans-seasonal style.
I am the biggest fan of a pant. Not just any pant, the kind that elegantly sits above the ankle. Not to be mistaken with the capri pant or pedal pusher which ends nearer the calf, it’s the in-between, cropped pant that I obsessively gravitate towards.
It’s a style that’s always a big hit at this time of year, as the days start to get shorter, the wind grows chillier and the leaves on the trees start to fall. We find ourselves in that frustrating in-between period when it’s impossible to know what to wear because there are often multiple seasons in one day. It doesn’t feel right to be wearing that same summer dress you fell in love with back in May, but it’s still too warm for investment coats and heavy knitwear. Enter the trans-seasonal, ankle-baring pant.
My obsession with this versatile style began back in the Noughties when I remember wearing a slim-fitting version in pink denim. If I’m honest with myself, they might have fallen into the troublesome pedal pusher category. Fast forward several years and here I am recreating the same outfit - a pair of fabulous, fringed, cropped pants in pink denim worn with a crisp white shirt and ballet pumps for everyday or loafers for the office. For evening, I switch to a fine sparkly knit and some strappy sandals which always feels very Parisienne - not too much but just enough and ever so chic.
Once I fall in love with something that’s it, I’m hooked, and I slowly started to build a collection of cropped pants. They worked for different occasions, but all shared the same trait – each pair fitted into my existing wardrobe almost too easily. They enabled me to switch up my looks in a way that knitwear didn’t. They could be paired with a band T-shirt and Converse like an off-duty model, or with a Beatnik-esque roll neck like Audrey Hepburn. I could team them with a chic Chanel ballet pump like Alexa Chung or dress them up with heels and a sparkly Prada handbag like Carrie Bradshaw.
I discovered a love for anklets and brightly colored socks. Not wanting to leave summer behind, I could still adorn my ankles with shell and pearl anklets without catching a chill. Then when the time (rain), came to cover my ankles, I could do so with a beautifully colored or patterned sock. You’ll often see businessmen constrained to wearing dark suits or uniforms go all out with their socks as a way of expressing themselves – I decided to do the same. Cropped pants also put your footwear in the spotlight. Hello chunky loafers, diamanté sandals, ballet pumps and ankle boots.
For me, cropped, in-between pants are an all-year-round favourite, but autumn sees them in their prime – a season where baring your ankles won’t immediately give you hypothermia. Pleated, slim, kick-flared, culotte, tapered, boot-leg, tie-front, straight-leg or elasticated, they’re all good friends of mine. Most importantly, they’re comfortable and the more comfortable something is the more I tend to wear it and, right now, we’re all on a mission to buy less and buy better.
The beauty of the cropped pant really is that it doesn’t have to start out cropped at all. I’ve taken scissors to pants that were too long for my 5ft 4 frame and gone just an inch higher than my comfort zone with zero regrets. If you’re not brave enough yet, try rolling up a regular pair instead, it will create the same look.
They might work perfectly for the current in-between season, but they’ll continue to work hard for you all year round. It’s time to free those ankles.
Marbling by Zeena Shah, £15, published by Quadrille, is available now at bookshop.org