Shrunken, cropped, fitted – that’s the state of women’s jackets this spring.

"The cropped jacket for spring is a great example of how fashion evolves," says Gregg Andrews, Nordstrom’s fashion director. "In the fall we saw the jacket, it was shorter; it was hipbone length. This season it’s become even shorter – about waist-length, almost bolero or almost shrug length."

The jacket is more tailored with a slightly nipped-in waist. When worn with fuller skirts, pants and cropped trousers, Andrews says, a fitted top helps the proportion and defines the waist. "In essence, the shorter jacket helps you create an hourglass shape," he says.

Most of the trendy toppers have three-quarter or "bracelet" length sleeves that show a bit more than a slip of the wrists.


Besides Bermuda shorts and cropped pants, a shorter, fitted jacket is great to wear with fuller skirts and pants because it defines the waist, says Gregg Andrews, Nordstrom’s fashion director. "And the silhouette doesn’t become boxy."

WATCH PROPORTIONS: If you are average or smaller busted with proportionate hips, these jackets are great. However, those with a fuller bust or wider hips should look for a longer jacket, almost hip-bone length, but still fitted, says Andrews.

CAREFUL BUYING A BIGGER SIZE: Some women are buying a larger size because the cut is a little too lean. Be careful doing that. You could throw off the fit. Here’s how to tell if the jacket fits properly: The shoulder seam sits on the shoulder, not below it.

A SLIGHT NIP: The waist of the jacket should follow your natural waist easily. If it’s nipped too snugly, you could end up with a flounce or peplum look at the bottom.


UNDERPINNING OPTIONS: What do you wear under the jacket? Andrews says you’ve got a few choices. Keep it very simple: A tank top, shell, T-shirt or camisole top. Tuck the shirt in for a tidier look; leave it untucked for a less structured vibe.

Or, play with proportion and go with a softer, almost tunic-length blouse and let it hang out the bottom for some softness and fullness. The tunic should be hip-bone length and not too full, says Andrews.

IN THE WORKPLACE: When you’re at work, the jacket’s hem should hit right above the hip bone. The shirt underneath should overlap the top of the skirt or pants. Don’t expose the midriff. Bare bellies are a business no-no.

FOR A SEXIER LOOK: Wear a cropped jacket with low-rise shorts or pants (yes, you’ll be showing a little tummy). Or for those more modest about their midriff, pair a floaty, jagged hem tunic with skinny jeans.

© 2005, The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.). Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.