Capri pants and pedal pushers were introduced in the 1950s and early 1960s and brought freedom of movement to many women who were sick of trying to do things like riding a bike or working in the garden in a skirt. There are some basic differences between the two styles of pants.
Pedal pushers end just at the knee. When they were first introduced they made it possible for girls to ride a bike and not have skirts or longer pants get trapped in the spokes, hence the name pedal pushers.
Hitting at mid calf length, capris also were called toreador pants and clam diggers. Many of these pants have a small notch or slit on the end of the pant leg to allow for better movement and to fit easily on many sizes of calves.
Boys Just Say No
Pedal pushers many times were cuffed at the end of the knee-high pant leg. And capris were initially also intended for boys, who mainly turned their noses up at the idea of wearing short pants, and opted instead for traditional shorts.
Difference In Personal Style
Women seem to have endless choices in styles and pants are where length seems to be the major difference. Capris, being calf length are shown with heels, flats, sandals and sneakers. However Pedal Pushers are usually shown with flat shoes or even beach thongs. A woman's personal style and choice will dictate which she chooses, but typically a sportier look is achieved with Pedal Pushers, and Capris lend themselves to dressing up as well as casual.
Today's Interpretations and Style Influences
When it comes to capris and pedal pushers, you can't find a more emblematic or iconic celebrity that Audrey Hepburn. She embodied the whole fresh look of a very feminine girl who can ride a bike or sail a boat or perform any number of activities that required adequate coverage. And she looked like a princess doing it. When Audrey put on the short pants, both pedal pushers and capris, women lined up to wear them, too. Also, the Gap has been a big influence on the resurgence of capris and offers many styles and fabrics. The most contemporary material is khaki and it is offered in many lengths. Because of the myriad of previous influences, we now see both pedal pusher and capri length styles available with notches, slits, zippers, cuffs and every girl's favorite--spandex.