While the silhouette of culottes may evoke memories of school uniforms for some, these cropped pants have once again been embraced by the fashion pack. Here’s how to wear this edgier alternative to skirts.
The versatility of culottes isn’t the only reason to celebrate their return. As somewhat of a feminist symbol, they were first worn by women of the Victorian era who required liberation from the constraints of a full skirt. The split-legged design gave ladies the movement they needed to ride horses and bikes, while being feminine enough not to be mistaken for pants.
While we needn’t worry about meeting the same ladylike standards today, design houses such as Céline, Marc Jacobs and Proenza Schouler are still trumpeting the billowy shape of culottes and their sophisticated, yet tomboyish charm. Locally, twenty-seven names has had a love affair with shorter versions for a number of years, and has this season crafted a longer style that’s one of the best around.
It’s a brave step to take, trading the skinnier cuts we’ve all grown to love for bottoms that are essentially short and wide. But when worn with the right shirt or shoes, these divided skirts are versatile garments that cater to body shapes ordinarily shunned by popular trends.
To distinguish these from your average Bermuda shorts or wide-legged pants, look for culottes that are fitted around a higher waist, and flare slightly through the leg. Modern culottes should finish somewhere between the knee and mid-calf, sitting at a trans-seasonal middle ground between pants and shorts.
For those wanting to fully commit to a more modern look, culottes made of thicker, structured fabrics, such as taffeta, show you mean business. The more conservative clothes horse should steer towards those cut from relaxed cottons or light silks.
The good thing about choosing culottes with a higher waist is that they will go with more in your wardrobe: a shirt neatly tucked in to accentuate the waist; a baggier crop for a more relaxed look; or a form-fitting top to look polished.