Culottes make a comeback: want some?

AS much as we love it, Spring/Summer fashion tends to be a little on the predictable side. Floral dresses. Shorts. Breton stripes. You know the drill. This season, however, a new item has joined the ranks of the familiar old items: or, rather, an OLD item which is going through something of a revival. Everyone say hello to our old friend, culottes

green stretch satin knee-length culottes from ASOS

Culottes, £45, ASOS

Culottes are not a new thing.

Actually, they’ve been around for a very long time, although they’re rarely considered to be at the cutting-edge of fashion, exactly. We’re sure you all know what we’re talking about here, but for the uninitiated, culottes are essentially divided skirts… or very wide-legged shorts, which simply LOOK like skirts. To be TRUE culottes, the garment should look exactly like a skirt, as in the image above. (This makes them distinct from the “skort”, which only looks like a skirt from the FRONT, but reveals itself to be shorts as soon as the wearer turns around…) This is actually a fairly practical idea, we think: you have the appearance of a skirt, but the practicality of shorts: and you don’t have to worry about your skirt blowing up in a stiff breeze, either.

Not all culottes look like this, though. No, SOME look more like this:

model in wide-legged denim culottes and platform sandals

denim culottes, £30

Basically a pair of wide-legged denim shorts, then. With a high waist. And a bit of a 70s vibe about them.

There is a middle ground, of course. It looks a bit like this:

models in culottes

Culottes available at Zara

These ones can’t really decide WHAT they want to be. They THINK they’d quite like to be skirts when they grow up. But there’s something holding them back…

These are just a few examples of the culottes we’ve been finding lurking in stores all over the country this season. They’re mostly inoffensive, but that just makes us wonder why they’re not more popular: after all, if culottes were super-fantastic, they’d surely be a staple part of everyone’s wardrobe. Are they? Do you own any pairs of culottes? Will you be buying any now that they’ve made a “comeback” (of sorts)?

What do you think of culottes?

19 Comments

  • February 27, 2013

    Fiona

    I used to wear culottes at primary school, which was great. All the girlyness of a skirt without flashing your knickers during handstands. I’m undecided how much use I’d have for them these days, as I tend not to handstand at lunch time any more. The tragedy of being a grown up.

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  • February 27, 2013

    Anna

    I’d like to leave culottes back in the 80’s and 90’s. They were great for a grade school uniform, but not now.

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  • February 28, 2013

    LIz Tea Bee

    As a girl who has to wear tights or shorts to address “chub rub” I would love some attractive culottes. I’m also a teacher so I spend a lot of time kneeling/crouching next to little desks culottes would be helpful then as well.

    (A student noticed last spring that I was wearing shorts under my skirt and was thrilled because she was wearing shorts under her uniform skirt.)

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  • February 28, 2013

    Lu

    I own very short culottes which basically look like a cute skirt. I wear them in summer; it is really nice to wear a wide, short skirt and not worry about it flying up in a breeze. Another plus is that I don’t have to sit with my bare skin touching whatever I’m sitting on – that happens a lot with short skirts.

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  • February 28, 2013

    Skelly

    Nooooooo. *Mind boggled.* I had no idea that culottes were still . . . around? Well, no. Correct that. The WORD culottes was still around. For outerwear.

    Culottes, the way I got to know them, were the skin-tight silken knee-britches of 18th century MEN. You know, the ones certain sorts of people WEREN’T wearing when they called themselves ‘sans culottes’ in the French Revolution (because you can’t get much more intrinsically political than the clothing you wear).

    ‘Culotte’ could be used for bloomers, pantaloons, and panties too, right? Even today? Any idea when and WHY the term got transferred over to lady-skirt lookalikes? Is this an extension of the bloomer meaning (bloomers being underpants as outerwear), or was it completely separate? I am sooooo confused.

    Also, is it just me, or are culottes-done-wrong more or less exactly the same thing as gaucho-pants-gone-wrong?

    I have a number of very full Indonesian batik pants (MUCH fuller than palazzo pants) that people tend to think is a skirt, even when I am walking around. I call them my hakama pants, because they look very much like a hakama, if the fabric were draped rather than pleated. They are full-length, so there’s no way that they would ever qualify as culottes. I love wearing them in the summer because they are cute, colorful, repel the sun the full length of my legs, and keep the cool air circulating, beneath. Don’t flatter my hips, much, but this doesn’t matter when they make it very obvious just how long my legs actually are.

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    • February 28, 2013

      The Fashion Police

      There’s an explanation of how the term came to refer to women’s clothing on Wikipedia:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culottes

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  • March 1, 2013

    JewelofTheWild

    No, I’m good.
    Those a.k.a. Gauchos were never flattering on my tiny rear end.

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  • March 1, 2013

    Liza Ashby

    I think as long as culottes do indeed look like a flippy skirt, I like them. As stated above, they are more practical than a skirt as they don’t flip up in a breeze, but not all pairs look good. I do wear them, but only occasionally.

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  • March 15, 2014

    Kellie showering

    I think they culottes are still great bring them on, come on girls they look fab.

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  • April 25, 2014

    R Miller

    As a dad of two daughters and a husband to a wife that where them, I think they are great. I am happy to see they are making a come back. My girls are very conscious of clothes they wear. We are a conservative family,not to the point of dressing “Amish” but to have conservative look, and my girls want to go out be comfortable and look good also. I know lot of ladies that wear them would love more options, colors, and styles.

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  • April 25, 2014

    Faith Rivera

    My religious beliefs do not permit me to wear pants so I have worn them all my life. I actually make my own. They are a really pretty droped waist style with lots of pleats.

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  • April 25, 2014

    Addie

    Couldn’t they find woman with some curves. They didn’t try to pose these models and their clothing just hangs. They made the models appear disinterested as if they hate culottes. Do these models make you want to go buy the clothes?

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  • April 25, 2014

    Erin Gordon

    I don’t know who wrote this article, but they clearly do not get fashion if they think that culottes are fashionable. Some trends should have never existed. If they are popping up on runways… it’s clearly for shock value. Go ahead and wear your a-sexual culottes. I guarantee no one is going to compliment you for your fashion sense.

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  • April 25, 2014

    Lisa

    As a person who was forced to wear these in childhood and teen years as a result of strange religious convictions, I would not wear these if they were the last garment on earth.

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  • April 25, 2014

    Pat carter

    I think there just big legged shorts.

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  • April 26, 2014

    Dee Dee Kovac

    I do not wear pants. I only wear dresses and skirts. I love wearing, what we call split skirts.. Kind of like cullotes but fuller. You cant really tell that they aren’t really a skirt and I also wore cullottes when I was a young girl. So, yes, I would like to see them make a comeback.

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  • April 26, 2014

    Annette

    No thank you, I wore them in the 80ies but don’t need them again.

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  • April 28, 2014

    terri

    Amen lisa!
    Bad childhood memories. I’d rather wear a flour sack.

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  • May 2, 2014

    Becky

    I would love it if the culottes are really making a comeback!! I appreciate the fact that I can still look and act like a lady in culottes even when riding a bike or mowing the lawn. Some make think culottes look bland, but if made properly they are very flattering. Even in high school our cheerleaders wore culottes–not many people realized they were really culottes and thought they were just full skirts. Christopher and Banks used to sell them and when they did, I think I bought several sizes and shared them with other ladies that I knew would appreciate them.

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