This ensemble was inspired by a lovely lady passing the crosswalk in front of my car this week. She combined black culottes with a patterned blouse, tan cocoon coat, black hosiery, black booties and brown bag. She was a brunette with olive skin, and looked good in the combination. 

The proportions of the combination are “volume on volume”, and not traditionally flattering. But with structure in just the right places, you can achieve a look that is just flattering enough. It’s a common look on catwalks, and nice to see on the streets of Seattle. 

Remember that culottes come in many variations. The silhouette can be full, much like a split flared skirt. Or more streamlined, which the industry is calling “wide cropped pants”. We also know them as gauchos. The narrower culotte is easier to style and has more structure than its fuller cousin.

I’ve used a colour palette similar to what I saw on the street, but feel free to use any colour spectrum. I added tomato red to the look, because it makes me smile.

Here are the components of the outfit: 

Culottes: Choose a fuller or narrower silhouette. Denim culottes will also work. Make sure they are sufficiently short so that they look intentional. The right length will add structure to the outfit and lengthen the leg line. Two to three inches above the ankle bone is fab. 

Top: Choose a blouse or pullover that works with the silhouette of the culottes. Tuck or semi-tuck a fluid top. Boxy cropped tops are also good. Think patterns and embellishment. Garden florals and embroidery, for the win. 

Cocoon Coat: Layer a cocoon coat over the outfit. Make sure the coat is fitted on the shoulder and tapers at the hem. Leaving the coat open in front adds vertical integrity to the outfit by creating a line down the centre front of the body. 

Cocoon Coat Substitutions: Try an unbuttoned peacoat, long cardigan, or trapeze jacket if you don’t have a cocoon coat. 

Footwear: Choose Mary Janes, booties, oxfords, flats or pumps in a colour that works with the outfit. Add hosiery for warmth. 

Accessories: Throw in a fun bag. Tie a bandana or neckerchief to the bag for Maximal effect. Add a floral pin to the coat, and amp up the jewellery for another nod to the Maximalism trend. Add eyewear, watch and headgear as desired.

Ensemble: Culottes & Cocoon Coat