How to Style Culottes

Fitting somewhere between a skirt and a pair of trousers, culottes have been always been a statement piece in women’s fashion. Originally worn by women in the Victorian era, these trousers were freeing for those who wanted to participate in sports, particularly horse-riding. The wide-leg design gave the illusion of a skirt, enabling riders to straddle the horse, rather than side-saddle.

Since then, their popularity has widened and now they’re a fashion statement for summery looks.

The often floaty material is light and cool for hot weather, and look stylish when paired with the right accessories.

They seem to make a comeback every year, but if you’re new to culottes, then here is your start-up guide.

I’ve recently bought my first pair of culottes and it took some working out as to what sort of shoes, tops and accessories to put with them.

Being such a different shape to what I’ve worn in the past, I had to learn the hard way what worked, and what – let’s just say – didn’t. So, this is what I came up with:

1. Shoes Are Essential

Get the wrong shoes and it can throw your whole outfit off.

I thought perhaps pairing them with trainers would look edgy and different – but no, it just didn’t look right.

Stick with mules, sandals, strappy heels or flip-flops if it’s a super nice day. Ankle boots can also work, providing they’re the right shape.

Take this outfit from Zara, for example:

They’ve paired their plain white culottes with a patterned top and boots to match. The overall look is chic and well balanced, ideal for a meal out.

Or, if the boot-look isn’t your style, try something simpler like these cork-heeled shoes by COS:

Softly-brushed suede and light cork #cosstores

A post shared by COS (@cosstores) on

Sticking to the same colours means that you can experiment more with your accessories.

I’d wear these with a brightly coloured top and matching clutch, sunglasses to pull the look together. This pair of aviators are sleek and the gold frames would match the cork material in the shoes.

2. It’s All About Balance

Their notorious wide-leg style can make your outfit rather bottom-heavy.

Think about proportions – how could you balance this out? A fitting top or waist belt can help shape natural curves.

However, if you like to step outside the box a little – take inspiration from H&M’s outfit:

Strike a pose! 📸💕 #regram @bettyautier #HM #OOTD

A post shared by H&M (@hm) on

The large ruffled sleeves balance out the wide-leg culottes, and the white-framed glasses help create an urban street-style look.

3. Try Denim

If you want to try something more casual, try out some denim culottes.

Pair denim with a striped tee, beige handbag and dark sunnies. Balances out the look by tucking the top in, helping to create more shape.

The outfit looks effortless, perfect for a day out or a trip into town. Dress it up with bold jewellery and a brightly-coloured clutch.

Kick-start your outfit with these Opal shades:

4. Don’t Forget To Accessorize

Accessories complete an outfit, but where to start? I found that sticking to smaller handbags didn’t distract away from the culottes, which are the centre piece.

However, using bright colours can really make them pop.

If, like me, you opt for a pair of patterned culottes, then keep your jewellery simple – you don’t want your outfit to look too busy.

A pair of hooped earrings and a couple of bracelets to match is enough. Alternatively, you could choose brightly coloured, bold jewellery and a patterned clutch if you’d prefer plain culottes.

High tea, anyone? Learn how to dress for this occasion here.

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