It recently occurred to me that all of my pants hit about an inch above my ankle bone. And for a long time, whenever I bought a pair that didn’t, I would roll, cuff or cut them until they did. That my pants looked short to the point of subtle dorkiness was paramount. I liked the way a healthy crop showed off my shoes or, when relevant, my socks. I liked how it made me look tall, like the lanky kids in high school for whom pants never quite seemed to finish. I especially liked how it removed “they fall weird” from any internal conversations that started with “do I like these pants?”

And yet, for reasons I can’t quite pinpoint, suddenly all my pants feel like capris.

It was only five months ago that I went on a quest to find the perfect pants, ostensibly found nine, and never once worried about their relative incompleteness despite each and every pair featuring a sizable crop. When I wrote about said journey, a wise commenter named Louise, along with a handful of others, asked a very reasonable question: “Why don’t any of these cover your ankles???”

Those are three questions marks I simply cannot settle. Why indeed? At the time, my private answer was probably something like because that’s just my thing, but now I’m not so sure. Now I’m leaning Louise.

You could blame the puddle hems of the Spring 2019 runways or the recent cold front tickling my shins or the fickle nature of my taste — I’m sure it’s all three — but all that matters, in the end, is that my ankles are now cold.

And apparently everyone else’s are, too. The other day, when I posted an Instagram story about being over all my short pants, I received no less than 50 replies featuring something along the lines of: “same!!!!!” and “was just thinking this.” I love when this happens. It made me wonder if I’d tapped into a new vein of the cultural consciousness that is crop fatigue. The answer will reveal itself within the next six months, I’m sure. I’ll be keeping both eyes and ankles peeled.

If you were to ask me why the hell any of this matters, I’d start by telling you it probably doesn’t. Not really. Only to the extent that thoughtfully dressing my body remains one of my most cherished forms of self-respect in a categorically uneasy time. That even today, on a day that started with and will end with a low hum of anxiety, I got a consistent kick out of a big stupid bow tied around my neck. It was white and soft and kept flopping around my shoulders like a silken hug. And every time it entered my peripheral vision, it put a jump in my step that rippled through my interactions. Try as my grouchy self might, I found cynicism hard to fully engender when I was wrapped like a human present.

What is it about clothing? How does something so tactile and physical have such a metaphysical impact? And isn’t it absurd that, seemingly over the course of a single season, all of us realized we needed our pants to hit our shoes? How small. What kind of connective tissue exists within these tiny nods to cultural change? And why does it make me smile even when it makes me roll my eyes?

I’m not totally sure yet, but I do know there’s a rare flavor of delight to be found in examining the intricacies of the inane. Like why ordering a sweet drink can feel like growing up, or why I keep dreaming that my teeth are falling out, or why we suddenly want our pants to brush against or sit upon our shoes.

Maybe the silliest part all this is the simple fact that I took two hours out of my evening today to play self-timer dress-up in my bedroom like a kid planning her first day of school outfit just so I could say: Welcome to a barely new era of pants. It’s a little warmer here, and a little more complicated where puddles are concerned. Come on in if you’re in the mood.

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