Culottes, or “split skirts” were huge in the ‘70s. Since then they have resurfaced from time to time, but never as much more than a fringe trend. They resurfaced as gauchos back in the early ‘00s, and then again in 2011, 2012 and for Spring in 2014. They are back for Fall 2014, but once again, as a fringe trend.
Culottes are knee or calf-length pants that are cut to look like skirts. Some of the styles are very wide and flowing. So much so, that you can barely see that they’re pants at all. You usually have to do a double take to determine whether they are a skirt or a pair of pants. Some styles are cut much slimmer and look more like wide cropped pants or long shorts. For Fall and Winter, culottes will be made of wool, wool blends, silk blends, cotton blends, leather, tweed and denim, both in casual and dressy styles.
There must be a reason why the style has stayed fringe since the ‘70s. My guess is that most people believe they are unflattering. Frumpy, leg-shortening, fussy and hard to style. Not unlike an A-line or flared midi skirt. Yet they’re more practical and insulating than a skirt, and to my eye more fun and unexpected.
To create conventionally flattering proportions with a pair of culottes, combine them with a tailored top and pair of tailored heels. Tucking a fluid top, or wearing an oversized cropped top creates the same level of structure, so that works well too. For tailored footwear, you’re after tall boots or booties that fit very closely to the shape of the leg, or a pair of pumps or ankle strap pumps.
Of course, creating proportions that are just flattering enough is another way to go and just as fun. Culottes can be worn with flats and unstructured tops too.
I’m a yay. I loved culottes back in the ‘70s and adore them today. I’ve had a non-black pair on my shopping list for years but the right darling hasn’t turned up yet. I managed to find a pair of long cobalt shorts last year that are culotte-light. But ideally I want a wider, longer and heavier pair to wear in the Autumn and in Spring with tall boots and booties. The Nicole Pant from Club Monaco is a strong contender because it is wool, lined, pleated, well-made, calf-length and cream. I would like to wear it with a fitted black turtleneck, black moto jacket, and dressy knee-high black boots, all of which I already have in my closet.
Over to you. What’s your take on culottes?