As clothing goes, culottes can be a pretty polarising garment. Not-quite-skirt, not-quite-trousers, this unusual style is often discredited for fear of not knowing how to wear it; something models and Instagram fashionistas can pull off with a breeze, but you’re just not sure if they’d work for you. Well, we’re here to set things straight — yes, you can wear culottes. And you can look great in them too.
So, where did culottes come from? They seem to pop up almost every decade, making it hard to remember when we were ever a nation not wearing culottes. In fact, the story of the culotte is much more fascinating than they’ve been given credit, especially for us women. In the Victorian era, women were expected to wear long, elegant skirts that ended at their ankles — showing any skin was a no-no. As you can imagine, these billowy skirts made it difficult to keep active, so in a defiant attempt to liberate their lower-limbs, ladies started to wear culottes. They gave the illusion of wearing a skirt when standing, but meant that women could go horse riding, ride a bike and play sports. The culottes’ freeing, ever-so-comfortable style is the reason we still wear them today.
Nowadays, culottes are seen everywhere — even the Duchess of Cambridge has been spotted wearing a pair. When complemented with flattering pieces that suit your shape, they can look effortlessly stylish. Still not convinced they’ll become your next wardrobe staple? Read on…
The main thing to think about when putting together an outfit with culottes is balance. They’re often very wide leg, so you need to make sure you’re not adding bulk anywhere else on your body, or they’ll drown you out. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be tall and slender to wear culottes. If you’re on the smaller side, go for a high-waisted, cropped cut and a low heel to elongate your legs. Always bring it back to your waist — this should be the smallest part of your silhouette.
Opt for a lightweight vest or t-shirt — something that balances out the material of the culottes. Try tucking in your top to define your waist. If you’re a little nervous around your midriff, a loose French tuck will flatter without drawing too much attention.
If you’re tall, a flat pump or sandal will work best with your shape. Nothing too bulky or chunky — again, we are trying to balance the weight of the culottes. For petite ladies, a little heel can help elongate your silhouette. Perhaps a strappy style or a sling-back to add an elegant touch of detail.
Keep it simple. A plain bangle or two can go a long way with a look like this. A delicate princess or pendant necklace will add a subtle hint of sparkle and sophistication if you’re wanting to dress up your culottes.
A small shoulder bag helps to bring this look together, separating the pieces with a contrasting strap. Try a bag in a bold, block hue to add a fun pop of colour.
When it comes to wearing a tricky style like culottes, heed our greatest piece of advice: wear them with confidence! Stop telling yourself you can’t wear this, or you can’t wear that, and remember that you look your best when you’re feeling good. After all, the most flattering accessory you can wear is always a smile.