What’s the one thing we can do — that’s any of us, regardless of age or body shape — that will instantly make us look summer 2022?
Get an X-gap. That’s the gap between trouser hem and shoes, the couple of inches of ankle on display in cropped trousers or jeans. Never mind your decolletage, it’s this sliver of bare skin that’s going to make the difference.
It’s not often a fashion comes along that anyone can join in with. Better still the X-gap works with almost every trouser style — so the chances are you own them already.
They could be those navy tailored trousers, re-hemmed to make them just ankle bone revealing; or your cotton khakis rolled up a couple of inches; or flared jeans from many summers ago chopped off and left frayed, because that’s another way to make jeans look instantly modern.
The X-gap is the gap between trouser hem and shoes, the couple of inches of ankle on display in cropped trousers or jeans. It has been seen on the catwalks such as Jason Wu (pictured)
If just the other day you were thinking (as I was), ‘when am I going to wear these floppy black trousers with the satin ribbon down the outside leg?’ now you know what to do.
Favourite pair of blue jeans look dowdy? Snip the ankles off. And, if you’re in the mood to buy some new trousers, just make length your new priority. Marks & Spencer has always done trousers in different lengths and its tapered cropped black trouser (£35, marksandspencer.com) is a good all-round bet for now. (Yes, so long as it’s anklebaring, black is as summery as white or pale pink.)
Amal Clooney pictured here is sporting the X-gap, which is a style that suits everyone. Shane Watson suggests altering your favourite pair of blue jeans to achieve this look
The cropped style that suits everyone is straight and loose fit andfinishes at ankle-sock height (though the whole point of the X-gap is it must be bare, so any socks you’re wearing should be invisible).
I like Arket’s just-anklebone-grazing suit trousers in dark navy (£79, arket.com) with the all-important high waist, plus angled side pockets. This barely-cropped length is the easiest to dress up or down. I’d wear them with a semi-tucked-in billowing boyfriend shirt and ballet flats because there is something 2022 Audrey Hepburn about this look. The X-gap makes trousers more feminine and somehow neater. Mango does a similarly smart pair with darts in tan or off-white (£49.99, shop.mango.com).
UK-based fashion expert Shane Watson says that you need to experiment to find your perfect length. She says that the gap with tailored trousers is a bit narrow, like Katie Holmes (right) and for jeans she would suggest three inch gap, like the Duchess of Cambridge (left)
You will need to experiment with your perfect length, but for me the gap that works with tailored trousers is a bit narrower (no more than 2 in above the ankle) than the one I prefer for jeans (nearer three). The fashion editors swear by Zara’s The Dreed jeans (£32.99, zara.com), a high-waisted, cropped narrow flare that looks good in indigo, black or white denim, and Mango does a good highwaisted, cropped straight jean in eight colours (£35.99).
The secret with a cropped flare (to my mind the most flattering style) is a gradual widening. The ones that are a tighter fit and flare from the knee can look a bit silly.
A little more cropped (just below the calf) and wider in the leg, Jigsaw’s crepe trousers in navy (£120, jigsaw-online. com) are neat and smart for work with loafers or blockheeled slingbacks.
Any cotton trousers you can simply roll up, so long as they’re not extra-wide-legged and you don’t roll them too high (or you’ll look like you’ve just been paddling!).
THE X-GAP RULES
- Try a gradual flare
- Hem your suit trousers
- Leave denim hems raw
- Wear with slingbacks
Rolling up is more casual but can still be smartish if the trousers are crisp and snug on the hips — try H&M’s cotton chinos (£24.99 hm.com).
Cropped trousers in general require a waist-grazing, tucked-in or at least half-tucked-in top (French style); you can’t cover up your waist or you’ll end up looking dumpy. And a word of warning: what won’t work is turning up calf-tight skinny jeans. The ageless gap has to swing.
Something else to bear in mind with the X-gap is it showcases your shoes, so invest in some up-to-theminute footwear. This, plus your cropped hems, will score you double fashion points.
Wear the new length with ankle boots until the weather gets too hot, otherwise let your shoes dictate the look.
I’d wear my newly taken-up black tuxedo trousers with black platform loafers, if I could walk in them. As it is, I’ll probably stick with low, blockheeled, gold slingbacks and a peasant-style print top.
Black, shiny pumps or sandals look good with cropped, white trousers. A cropped flare works well with ankle boots, and when it gets hotter, block-heeled or kittenheeled mules or slingbacks. I think cropped trousers benefit from a bit of Audrey attitude, so don’t go chunky or unisex.