Too Cool for Culottes?
The Story Behind the Divided Skirt
Remember when tight, skin-hugging, breath-stealing, jeans and pants were all the rad? When moms and grandmas would say, “Oh no, I’m not young enough to pull off those things”? An old fashion trend seems to be making a comeback; one which anybody of any age and size can pull off and not have their circulations cut off in the process. But believe me when I say that air for your legs is only one of the many benefits that these pants will bring into your life.
Culottes, the pants I am exulting, are a style of bottom that have not been given the credit they deserve because many people don’t think they’re particularly ‘cool’ and are afraid to waddle into the pool of ‘big flowy pants’. Therefore, since I have been an avid culottes adorner for several months now, I thought I’d share their story and my insight as to how to wear them.
My discovery of what the dictionary terms to be cropped pants with a flared leg stems from my love for loose bottoms that hide my fuller calves and flatter my petite frame. Having seen them on both runway models and tiny 5’ foot me, I believe that these pants embellish all body types extremely well, creating an effortlessly cool look. Its high waist elongates your legs and flared bottoms instantly turn you into a retro queen.
Now, how should one style them? Not only are these pants four-seasons-friendly but they are extremely versatile. The great thing about culottes is that because it is a statement piece in itself, dealing with what goes above should be fairly easy. Pairing the looser bottom half of your outfit with a fitted top would balance the look out more. Try tucking a simple white or black crew neck t-shirt into denim culottes with sneakers or slip-on sandals for the perfect laid back look. For going out at night, pair a v-neck camisole with cotton or satin culottes, a statement necklace and ankle boots or heels. The possibilities are sky high with a bottom like this and Elle Magazine has recently featured 18 different types of culottes that you should get your hands on—or legs in.
Furthermore, little do you know that by attiring yourself in these pants, you are partaking in a French scandal and feminist movement that happened decades ago. In the late 1700s, culottes were frequently worn by upper-class males in France as a symbol of wealth and power. However, they made a transition during the Victorian Era when they became a liberating garment for women. As women of the time started to become much more invested in activities such as tennis, horseback riding, and cycling, these bottoms created an illusion of wearing a long skirt thus allowing them to enjoy newfound freedom in their concealed pants.
Because the divide between the legs was usually covered by panels or ruffles, most women got away with wearing culottes. It was only when French designers began toying with the idea of divided skirts that these pants gathered social backlash around them. For a period of time, there was a French law prohibiting women to wear culottes unless they were riding a bike or a horse and those found breaching the law would be arrested on the streets. Fortunately, as gender roles and attitudes evolved over time, pants for women became socially acceptable and culottes could finally come out of hiding.
So, if you think you’re too cool for culottes, think again. Amal Clooney certainly doesn’t think they’re beneath her; and neither should you too.