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February 24, 2015

How To Wear Culottes - Five Tips

The mere mention of the word culottes may spark trepidation in the hearts and minds of even the most trend-forward fashionistas. Are they pants or are they shorts? Due to their voluminous shape, they sometimes even look like a skirt. 

For me, culottes conjure images of my stylish hippie mother in vintage photos from the 1970s. I vividly recall her long, center-parted auburn hair, her feet adorned with brown leather platform clogs, and her look punctuated by a diaphanous knit top tucked into statement-making culottes. Those were the '70s, after all!

These days, the look is more modern than flower child, especially when styled with moto jackets, fluid blazers, simple knit tops, and chic pumps as seen below.

How To Wear Culottes, spring 2015 culottes trend, culottes street style

Photos via Pinterest

Let's be honest. The full-leg silhouette and midi length of culottes isn't the easiest to pull off, but with a few styling tips, they can be just as flattering as your favorite skirt or slim-leg trousers. Just think of culottes as a midi skirt or cropped trouser, and follow these five guidelines:

Do consider length. Just like with a skirt, avoid any style that hits at the widest part of the calf. This highlights that part of the leg and can visually shorten the legs. Instead, opt for lengths that hit just below the knee or just above the ankle for a more flattering look.

Don't ignore proportions. Since culottes are wide-leg silhouettes, you'll want to wear a tailored or fitted top to show off your waist and keep proportions in balance. My mantra is that wide shapes on bottom equals fitted shapes on top.

Do slip on your high heels. The shorter you are and the longer the culottes are, the higher those heels should be to lengthen your legs. (Since I'm petite, I live by this rule.) Taller women can get away with low heels and flats (consider me jealous). What shoes to wear? This season, I'd opt for trendy clogs (love these), stacked-heel boots (Rag & Bone's boots are comfy), walkable platform wedges, or sleek pumps. Petite ladies, remember that ankle straps can shorten the legs as well, so opt for thin straps or skin-tone footwear to create the illusion of longer legs.

Don't be afraid to go high-waisted. A high-waist style makes the legs look longer, and when paired with a crop top, this can be especially flattering. No need to bare your midriff if you don't want to, just tuck your top in like the ladies above (or add a belt) to show off the waist.

Do consider print. If you're brave, style printed culottes (like these) with a solid top, structured blazer, or fitted knit. Remember that bigger prints make you appear bigger, and are easier for taller women to pull off. If you're more timid when it comes to prints, try a pair in chic black (like these) or your favorite neutral, and style them with a blouse or top that makes you feel stylish and confident. I recently bought this black pair for under $25, and I adore dressing them up with heels and a striped tee. This faux leather version is on my radar and this style under $25 is great for the office.

February 22, 2018 update - Discover new styles:

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December 18, 2017 update - Shop new styles for winter:

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