How to Style Culottes 3 Ways | Casual, Smart & Office | Indigo, Grey, Blue & Red

Culottes – tricky garments, aren’t they?  Do you wear them or are you wary, wondering whether you’ll be swallowed up by swathes of wafting material?

Following the success of my How to Style a Maxi Shirt 3 Ways, I thought I’d follow it up with another How To Style post on an item that can be tricky to get right, particularly for a petite.

The dreaded Culotte.

There’s been something of a renaissance in trouser styles the last few seasons. The choice of length, cut and fit is mind boggling – bistro, cigarette, crop, wide legged crop, capri, cargo, palazzo, culottes and this year’s new kid on the block – the crop kick flare.  Truly a style and shape to tempt and please everybody’s body and taste.  And this is true for culottes from knee length styles to full on ankle skimming gauchos.  I’ll stick with the term culottes for the rest of the post, as this seems the most commonly used word.

A decade ago I would’ve run for the hills at the thought of wearing culottes, labelling them fuddy duddy!  

However, they’ve grown on me and last year I searched for a pair but without success.  Cut, fit, material, didn’t make the grade. Undeterred, I thought I’d give it another whirl this year and prepared myself for a long and potentially impossible haul to culotte heaven.

I tried 3 pairs for starters.  First pair from New Look were pretty much like last year’s and were discarded for exactly the same reason as the previous season.  Cheap, shiny material.

Second pair were these ASOS Petite Wide Legged Culottes.

Look lovely don’t they?          I thought they’d look lovely on.         NO, darling.  A total disaster!

Oh my, the pleats made them soooo voluminous, if I’d had a spinnaker, I could’ve rigged them up the mast and sailed to the Caribbean with them!  Back they went.  And whoever thought such voluminous pants on a petite was a good idea also needs to go back to fashion design school!

The 3rd pair, these ASOS Petite Linen Check Culottes were bought on a whim.

I thought they won’t be flattering.           They’ll be too long.         The tie belt will be too bulky.

But they were bought because I liked they were a linen mix, and the wide check pattern.

Well stone the crows, if they didn’t just turn out fine and dandy!

Yes, they are long, more gaucho in length but not overwhelmingly so.
The tie belt isn’t too bulky and you can wear them without it.
The silver grey goes with sooo many colours.
AND they’ve got deep and I mean DEEP pockets!

Culotte Nirvana!



On our recent city break to Copenhagen, Denmark, they were one of the first items I packed in my suitcase so, I’m starting with an easy, yet stylish look from my trip.

Clothes you pack for holidays should ideally be able to make multiple outfits, more so if you’re travelling with hand luggage only.  Having worn the culottes for a day of sightseeing with a white embroidery anglaise top, they also had to do a turn for a night out.

In the warm glow of a Copenhagen evening, Tall Brown Fox and I went for a casual dinner to Papirøen, or Paper Island. Formerly a giant, paper storage warehouse in the harbour, it’s a foodie landmark in the City, as part of it now houses Copenhagen Street Food.  Over 20 different food stalls selling street food from all over the world alongside local cuisine.

Soft textures of a chambray top and a light wash denim jacket with rolled up sleeves blended perfectly with the linen culottes and suited the laid back vibe of the venue.  Metallic accessories of cross body bag, necklace and spiral bracelet all work with the silver greys and blues.

Style Tip: When walking on cobblestones, of which there are many in Copenhagen, there ain’t no point wearing high heels, unless you want to take 3 hours wobbling your way to somewhere!

My block heel, Topshop Ghillies, which were such a fantastic buy last year, made light of this tricky road surface and I think look just adorable with the culottes!

Holidays might be over but my culottes keep on working.  

Tunic Dress & Brooch

Could these culottes work for smarter occasions I wondered?  Not full on formal but for times when you want to be a little more dressy and a little less ordinary or obvious.

I ordered the tunic dress at the same time as the culottes; not to wear with them at all but simple to try another dress style. However, I wasn’t immediately sold when I put it on.  The culottes caught the corner of my eye lying on the bed, having been tried on moments earlier and couldn’t resist seeing how they paired.  The rest is history, as they say!

British summers are frequently temperamental.  It’s not unusual to still be wearing ankle boots during the summer months.  I opted for grey suede boots so as not to break the colour line of the culottes.

I wanted a finishing touch that wasn’t run of the mill i.e. a necklace.  Culottes and a tunic dress are hardly a run of the mill combination!  The wide dress belt completely lent itself for decoration with a brooch.  After tying, I partially folded the belt over, before pinning the brooch. Once in place, violà; an eye-catching alternative to a statement necklace!

Style Tip: Brooches aren’t just for lapels.  Use them on waistbands, belts, bags even hats.  Co-ordinate any other accessories using similar colours, size and style, even if they don’t exactly match the brooch.

A night at the theatre, an exhibition opening, evening office drinks; I’d happily wear this outfit to any of these.  Pop my invitation in the post please.


Polka Dots / Masculine Chic

Time for some pattern mixing with an old favourite – polka dots!  

Polka dots and stripes work so well together and although the culottes are strictly a check pattern, there’s still enough of a striped effect with the two tone palette of the off white and grey in the culottes, to get away with pairing them with dots.

When pattern mixing, it’s generally a sensible idea to have the same colour present in each pattern to link them, or at least to have the colours in the same tonal palette.

Well, I’ve thrown that one out the window here, haven’t I?  But it still works.  Why?  

– By wearing the belt as a tie, I’ve co-ordinated the top and bottom halves of my body.
– The dots of the shirt are small enough that they’re not overwhelming the check, despite the red being the bolder colour.
– Plus red and grey are fabulous together.

Having been inventive with the dress belt in the last outfit, I thought I’d try to do the same with the culotte belt.

Style Tip: when a belt is a soft fabric one, you can wear it either as a tie or as a head band  As I chose a shirt, it was obvious to feature the belt as a tie!  I had to wrap the belt fully once around the collar before making the tie, as otherwise the ends would’ve been dragging down to my knees!  But hey, you wouldn’t have know that unless I told ya!

A snakeskin belt filled the loops where the original belt would have sat.  I like being neat and tidy!

ASOS Petite Linen Check Culotte with Tie  In the sale, only small sizes available.
ASOS Petite Linen Strip Wide Leg Trouser
Glamorous Petite Striped Culottes
Next Plain Culottes available in black, red or stone in regular and petite.

Culottes Footnote

I’m so glad I didn’t settle for second best last year and instead, held out to find the pair I absolutely love and which suits my style.  It can be tempting to fall into the trap of buying something just because it’s the current on trend garment.

– Try on different lengths – just below the knee, mid calf or just above the ankle to see what works best for both your shape, height and proportions.
– Don’t just assume that shorter is better if you’re a petite as it depends on your body ratios.
– Cut and fit vary hugely.  I went for a more tailored, high waisted pair.  Although they are a linen mix so crease slightly, they still hold their shape well.
– Avoid cheap, synthetic type materials.  They won’t hang well on your body, can cling even when it’s not hot and can show every lump and bump.
– Avoid inside leg pleats and/or front waistband pleats (unless you are an inverted triangle with narrow hips and want to balance them out with your shoulders).  They will add volume especially if the culottes are cut to flare out.
– Elasticated waists add bulk around the middle.  Choose ones with a proper waistband.

Have you embrace the culotte trend?  And which look of mine is your favourite?

Linking with Garay Treasures / Confident Twosday / Up,Down,AllAround /


  1. June 27, 2016 / 3:57 pm

    These actually look quite cute. I like the masculine look the best I think.

    After giving this a try last year I've decided this is a trend I'm skipping.


    • June 27, 2016 / 9:50 pm

      They certainly aren't to everyone's taste and I'm quite surprised I found a pair that suits me!

  2. June 27, 2016 / 4:32 pm

    I never thought I'd buy a pair either, Jacqueline….but I did and love them!
    I think they are just like every other piece of clothing—you have to try different styles & silhouettes!! Because really, they are like a midi skirt with legs!
    I like all your variations…but I think the casual one is my fave (at least today)!

    • June 27, 2016 / 9:52 pm

      Yay, a fellow convert! Absolutely, style and silhouette is key.
      One vote each for casual and office.
      Come back tomorrow and your favourite may change, Jodie!

  3. June 27, 2016 / 11:11 pm

    Bravo to you for venturing into new territory and not settling or making due with something less than satisfactory. The culottes you're wearing look great in all three outfits and I love how you were able to mix them with different styles. Your post fits in perfectly with my Up Down All-Around link up. Please pop over and add it?


    • June 28, 2016 / 10:19 pm

      Thank you Rena. I've found the hard way that settling just doesn't work!
      I'll pop over.

    • July 2, 2016 / 2:46 am

      i think my favorite of the looks is the last one with the red blouse and tie. very unexpected. so glad that you added the post to my link up.

  4. June 28, 2016 / 9:31 am

    I really like these on you,in any of your styling options. Isn't it a bonus when you find the perfect pair. I have liked this look for some time, before they became popular but fabric and cut must be spot on. Glad you enjoyed your birthday trip to Copenhagen.

    • June 28, 2016 / 10:20 pm

      The hunt was worth the wait. And yes, the fabric and cut can make all the difference.
      Copenhagen was wonderful. I want to go back!

  5. June 28, 2016 / 12:40 pm

    You know I love culottes! One of the things I miss most being pregnant. The pair you found is so awesome. I love the print and color, and all three looks are fabulous!

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

    • June 28, 2016 / 10:21 pm

      Thank you Amy. You'll have to find a maternity pair! That would be amazing.

  6. June 28, 2016 / 7:05 pm

    I really love culottes! They are such a great garment. I have a black pair I haven't seen for aaaaaaaaages (I think I must have chucked them out as I really can't find them!) and they were so good for swing dancing!! These ones look great. I like the last look best- looks very dapper!!!

    • June 28, 2016 / 10:22 pm

      Yes, they would be absolutely perfect for swing dancing. I hope you find yours again. Yes, I have a soft spot for the last one too.

  7. June 29, 2016 / 7:00 pm

    I wouldn't have thought culottes to be so versatile! I love all the ways you've styled yours!

  8. June 29, 2016 / 7:01 pm

    I wouldn't have thought culottes to be so versatile! I love all the ways you've styled yours!

  9. June 29, 2016 / 7:03 pm

    I wouldn't have thought culottes could be so versatile! I love all the ways you've styled them!

    • June 30, 2016 / 9:27 pm

      Thank you Laura. Glad you like the different variations. They were fun to do.

  10. June 30, 2016 / 6:00 am

    Aaaah, this little chestnut eh? At the time of writing I have a pair of navy culottes spread-eagled across my bed waiting to be styled up Jacqueline and they are proving to be a bit of a challenge… I found them on my most recent shopping trip and will not be beaten, so watch out for them soon on the blog. I love your how-to article and will take some of your advice on board. I particularly like the dress with the brooch which is very unexpected, yet effective. Being another petite I had struggled with the idea of culottes, but so love the look that I've crumbled. Thanks for another great post x

    • June 30, 2016 / 9:28 pm

      Oooh, can't wait to see yours Anna and the exciting way you'll style them. I know you'll come up with something interesting and colourful with them. Ha, ha, I was determined not to be beaten just because I'm a petite! I was particularly please with how the tunic dress turned up – a happy accident!

  11. June 30, 2016 / 9:56 am

    I love love LOVE Looks 2 and 3, Jacqueline. Oh my god. Never in my wildest sartorial dreams did I think I'd be gushing over a pair of culottes. Like you, I avoid them because I'm short, they add bulk, and I simply haven't been able to find a cut/length that flatters. But you've completely won me over with these outfits, Jacqueline, implicitly. I'm off to shop for my own pair even as we speak/type.

    p/s I always wear my brooches with a ribbon or leather strap, as a cuff 🙂

    • June 30, 2016 / 9:30 pm

      Thank you Sheela for your lovely comments. I know you'll find a pair that'll suit you that you'll be able to put 'Sheela's stamp on them! Can't wait to see what you do. Keep hunting for a pair!
      Love the idea of wearing the brooches as a cuff. That's a neat idea. Thank you for the tip!

  12. June 30, 2016 / 11:09 am

    fabulous outfits!, and very inspiring ideas about how to style culottes (which are really tricky, you're right!!). Love particularly your 'dressier' look, that tunic over culottes is a original idea and I love layering!. Your casual ensemble (with an elegant twist) looks cool and comfy, and love that subtle color combo. Lovely masculine look too!.

    • June 30, 2016 / 9:32 pm

      It was purely by chance the I paired the tunic dress but it really works. Just shows that it plays to experiment as sometimes unexpected things can happen from it. Thanks Monica.

  13. June 30, 2016 / 2:28 pm

    Hi There!!!favulous outfit inspiration!!! Love how u dressed up your patterened culottes in 3 very different ways!!! I love 3 of them ! but my favourite is the casual look!!! I must say u r pretty unique and fashion forward!!

    • June 30, 2016 / 9:33 pm

      Thank you Qazi, glad you like them. I always like it when other bloggers show how pieces can work in different ways as that always inspires me.

  14. July 2, 2016 / 12:01 am

    I do have one pair of culottes but they look like a skirt as the pink one's above. And being petite has put me off. I now know I need to try ! I like all of these looks, especially the spotty blouse x

    • July 4, 2016 / 4:08 pm

      Do try Laurie. I'm sure you can pull it off. It's always a challenge as a petite to see how we can adapt things.

  15. July 3, 2016 / 7:01 pm

    Dearest Jacqueline, I was not going to comment as I do not like culottes. At all. And you know: "if you don't have anything nice to say, say nothing at all". But… that second outfit with the dark tunic and the brooch… It really blew me away. So chic, so classy, so different. Applause my dear. You won me over. This time haha.

    • July 4, 2016 / 4:09 pm

      Thank you Greetje. I always respect your directness so your words about liking the second outfit mean alot. Glad I surprised you!

    • July 30, 2016 / 5:52 am

      With "this time" I meant culottes. As they are usually not my favourites. Don't know whether I was clear enough. Always a language barrier when you are a foreigner haha.

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