An Ode to the Naked Ankle

Fall’s must have accessory? A hearty pair of joints.


What is it about an exposed ankle – bare and boney as it peeks out below a pair of cropped trousers – that just looks so damn good?

While the bones have clearly been an important facet of a. the human body b. the human vernacular for as long as I’ve been able to say appendage, ankles seemingly crept in to the fashion vernacular more slowly and steadily, so inconspicuosuly, in fact, that you’re probably wondering where we’re going with this. But hold on, it was their quiet, almost-but-not-quite darwinistic evolution and subsequent foray into fashion that has had us noticing thats pants don’t seem quite right without a set of bulbous joints poking out beneath.

Yes, people. Ankles are having a moment.

A moment.

A friend pointed out to me that ankles have had their moment, or moments — and that as fashion is cyclical it’s only natural that they’d come “back.” She also suggested that I never again say “ankles are having a moment” in public. To that I said, “YOLO,” and then wrote it above for all to read.

It’s actually that attitude, though, of Only Living Once which likely initially caused women to heighten the hem. Some historical context might take you back to the end of World War One where a resurgence of joy and youthfulness may or may not have resulted in the subsequent appearance of legs. (Only then could we once again flex what our mamas gave us, right?)

In the ’20s, skirts shot right up to the knee. In the ’30s, they fell back down to the mid-calf, and then up and down, up and down, they went, until the seesawing of iconic hemlines brought us to 2009 and, ugh, the maxi dress.

Ah, okay. There it is. The epiphany. Long dresses-as-daily wear became popular sometime right after I graduated college and then not just popular, but trendy. And nothing quite kills a trend for the fashion set like mass market consumption and a Who Wore It Best roundup in your favorite tabloid mag.

So maybe it was right then and there that our under-loved ankles began a plea to be seen…

 “Dear Phoebe and Stella,” we imagine they began. “Clare Waight Keller and Ms. Prada,

“A word, if you may, about the general direction of fashion. It would be ever so kind, in the next season or two, if you could raise the height of all bottom-wear. An army of actresses have forced us into hiding beneath cotton day-gowns from Kitson and long jersey sheaths. We’d like to be seen, and we’d prefer our reveal in the form of a pant.”

And the hemlines rose, slowly if not steadily. Just an inch; maybe two. Cropped but not capri’d. Now pants seem incomplete without playful winks of skin – right above a low slung bootie and below a well-cuffed trouser. If not because the look is so dated it feels incredibly fresh than certainly because that sly, unwittingly sexy sliver of skin informs more about personal style than one might let on.

Come winter, though, who knows. By then a bevy of starlets will have probably overworked their ankles, and we’ll – our ankles and selves – be craving something new. Something long and high-waisted, fitted to the knee and then, I don’t know, maybe flared? …Like a bell! In fact, another epiphany! Let’s call them bell bottoms. Surely no one has thought of that before.

Now we turn the table to you: Thoughts on the ankle-as-accessory and our wanting to show them off? Ready, cuff, go!

Photos by Phil Oh and Tommy Ton

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  • I love me some ankle. It’s the first bit of skin I think of freeing in the spring, and the last thing I want to cover up as fall freezes over.

    What is it about ankles? I never thought of myself as having a fetish or anything, but honestly, I just can’t get enough.

  • E

    Yes! I love the ANKLE theme! Lately, I’ve been buying only ankle-revealing shoes to wear with ankle pants, but I worry what will happen come the winter. I’ll still want to wear my pants cuffed, but I may have to start phasing in revealing socks. Yikes, doesn’t sound promising.

  • Ash

    As a very petite girl, I find that cropped pants automatically give me a more tailored look. Thus, they are an absolute MUST in my wardrobe. My tailor is an old cute Filipino woman, and she thinks I’m nuts for wanting all my pants hemmed so short.

  • CDJ

    My ankles are breathing free right now! A majority of my “work pants” give my ankles their well-deserved power.

  • DW

    Ankles have had a moment for a while now (circa 2011). They’re called “go-to-hell ankles” or “go-to-hell-socks) i.e.

  • Espoir

    I always do the French Cuff (as Garance Doré says). Automatically legs look longer ant fitter, it’s like a miracle. You know Frech have the rule 7/8 and I’m a strong believer about French fasion wisdom.

  • These ankle length pants are perfect for showing off all the gorgeous shoes! It’s a total conspiracy! Now we have to buy fabulous shoes!

  • Oana

    I believe there is nothing sexier than a nice, slim ankle showing shyly under a pair of cropped trousers. There are only a few other bones in a female’s body as sexy as ankles 🙂

  • I am not wild about the ankle showing on myself, but it looks great on others.

  • Katerina

    It’s true! The ankles are out and having fun!! Honestly, I’d much rather an ankle showing than bellys…it’s more common to see people with nice ankles then, well, you get where I’m going.

    I’m all down for some ankle nudity!!

  • monkeyshines
  • CarolinaG

    I loved it!
    I’m posting looks from Malibu and accessories:

  • My Fashion

    Nice theme & I like the exposed ankles 🙂

  • Leslie Hitchcock

    As someone who is 5’1″, I had a hard time with the post about JCrew cropped pants not suiting women of petite frame, so this entry resonated. There’s something about a specifically cropped pant, ankle length that feels so sophisticated, chic and also nostalgic — I’m so happy that they are back in style. I’ve experienced many trends come and go and I hope that I have the courage to continue wearing a length that flatters my shape like the cropped pant once it has left the butterfly attention span of the fashion industry, once the moment has passed. Courage!

    • Amelia Diamond

      I’m 5’3 and feel short without a cropped pant. I think once you find a style that suits your body frame, stick with it. All hail the uniform!

  • I love rocking a cropped pant. It’s flirty with a heel and sort of rogue tomboy-ish with flats. You’ve chosen some great pictures.

  • I remember in high school, we all had to cover our ankles. But guess what? That was an all-girls private school and now we’re free to show them off. This is our prize.

    Your Friend, Jess

  • Megan

    Leaving some ankle room showcases the feet (and therefore a pedicure or great shoes)

  • Rachel Fink

    Proud to bare my cankles to the world! Especially paired with a pair of chic trousers.

  • mariah serrano


  • StyleGodis

    Love loose pants that end at the ankle!!