Style Guide

How to Master the Silhouette of the Season: Culottes

For a look that's sleek, edgy and unabashedly different, culottes are the freshest fashion piece for fall.

By Julia Davila October 7, 2015

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Culottes looks from Asos (left and right) and Urban Outfitters (center)

Wide-leg trousers that fall somewhere between the knee and the ankle—better known as culottes—were at the forefront of the 2015 runway shows because they’re effortless, comfortable and easy to dress up or down. They were the must-have article of clothing for spring, but can easily be transitioned into fall wardrobe; that is, until the weather is just too cold to bare.

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Denim culottes on the runway at Gucci's Spring/Summer 2015 presentation.

Gucci revisited the seventies in its S/S 2015 collection and nailed this trend, showing a variety of denim culottes and vintage washes while Stella McCartney and Celine took a more evening-wear approach with their dressier styles.

When I was growing up in the early '90s, my private school uniform included a culottes option. They were absolutely horrendous in the school’s plaid, but all the middle school girls wore them with white polos and Mass day button-downs. Man, did they look cool. Culottes came and went, but like many other comebacks—think overalls and turtlenecks—culottes have made their way into the current season's trends, be they denim, printed, satin or silk.

With a flattering hemline and versatile shape, culottes provide the opportunity to be styled in a variety of ways:

  1. If your style falls into minimalist territory, pair sleek black culottes with a long tunic and simple accessories like midi rings or your favorite watch. A slender tunic easily complements your shape when paired with voluminous (and unexpectedly flattering) bottoms. To top it off, pull out your favorite pair of strappy heels to elongate your ankle.
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    A fashionista in culottes attending the Milan Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2015 shows in February.

    For the office, a date or a girl’s night, culottes are a great staple if you’re tired of your regular day-to-night skinny jeans. Don’t get me wrong, skinny jeans will never go out of style—at least not any time soon—but a wide-leg pant is a fantastic alternative for a different look.
  3. With the transition to fall and somewhat cooler weather in Texas, pair culottes with a knit sweater to provide equal proportion to the entire outfit.
  4. The key to mastering culottes is pairing them with the right heels to elongate the leg, especially if you’re on the shorter side. Otherwise a trouser with such volume can easily overshadow your lower half.

Or take a note from Danielle Bernstein of Houston style blog We Wore What, who pairs her Zara culottes with pointed-toe flats. According to blogger and Yellow magazine editor Issa Chou, the look can be even unisex—she featured a male subject and his take on the pants.

The moments for culottes is right now: Not too hot, but still not cold enough to be completely bundled up from head-to-toe.

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