When models wear culottes they are often styled with heels, but you can absolutely wear them with flats. Of course, your leg line won’t look quite as long because heels add height. But with a little attention to detail, creating flattering proportions is simple. It’s often a case of wearing culottes a little shortershowcasing the waistband of the culottes to visually lengthen the leg line from the thighs up, and creating a column of colour

Here are some examples of these three techniques. 

Shorter Culottes

3.1 PHILLIP LIM Ponte CulottesMIH JEANS Soleri Cropped Printed Silk-georgette Culottes

In these examples the models are wearing flat oxfords and slides with shorter culottes. Although the first outfit with the black culottes is an edgier combination and an acquired taste, it does work to my eye. The second outfit is a little easier to wear. Both pairs of shoes create a low contrast against the skin tones of the models, thereby lengthening the leg line. The untucked cropped tops showcase more of the culottes, thereby lengthening the leg line from the thighs up. The over-the-knee length of the culottes breaks the outfit into thirds, creating a proportional effect.

Showcasing the Waistband

SALONI Lorna Embellished Crepe CulottesETRO Printed Silk Crepe de Chine Culottes

The next two examples show culottes with flat ankle strap pumps and gladiators. The tops have been tucked into the culottes, which lengthens the leg line from the hips upward. The pointy toe of the flats and low contrast of the footwear colours further offsets the stump factor of slightly longer culottes.

Column of Colour

Zara Cropped TrousersBabaton Lazarus Culottes

These two outfits create a column of colour with black culottes, which has a lengthening effect. No need to showcase the waistband of the culottes because it makes no difference here. The outfit on the left adds a pair of self colour black Birkenstocks to a longer pair of culottes. The self colour high-vamped flat is key to pairing with the longer length culottes because it visually connects the hem of the culottes with the footwear, thereby creating a continuous line. The dark hair of the model adds further cohesion to the outfit. 

The outfit on the right creates a column of colour with a shorter pair of culottes. The low contrast, flat white sneakers work quite well because of the lengthening effect of the column of colour and the slightly shorter length of the culottes.

Zara Culottes

In this final outfit the welted top is covering the waistband, thereby shortening the leg line and lengthening the torso. The opposite of what is happening in the examples before it. I included this outfit because it illustrates that wearing a regular length fitted or welted top over culottes can work when you’re short-waisted and long in the leg. Wear the culottes a little shorter to lengthen the leg from the lower leg up, and add low-contrast flat footwear. If, however, you have a naturally long leg line, feel free to add high-contrast flats instead.

Please feel free to ask questions in the comments section if anything isn’t clear.