How to Wear Culottes


The oft-romanticized Victorian Era was not too kind on womenfolk.


Marginalized by men and stripped of their rights to vote, own property, and file for divorce, women endured it all in corsets and dresses so fitted that climbing stairs was a challenge.


But as the women’s suffrage movement picked up in the latter half of this conservative era, women grew bolder in their political demands. This fresh self-confidence was reflected in their wardrobe choices. Corset- and bustle-free dresses became en vogue, and with their newfound fashion freedom women enjoyed more vigorous activities, like horse riding. Cue the bifurcated skirt, or culotte, introduced to women to make sitting astride their steeds more comfortable.


Culottes, although well-received in France, were considered gauche and butch in Britain. Thus the breezy, cropped pants were branded as a kind of defiant garment—brazenly pooh-poohing conservative social norms.


In 2015, culottes are still a bold style choice, but the reasons are less politically charged and more sartorially based. The awkwardly cropped hem can be tricky to pull off. To guide you in how to style this It-silhouette is Cheralee Lyle of the recently relaunched blog, Ascot Roadin the


For a casual weekend look, Lyle channels culottes’ origins with a Parisian-inspired striped, off-the-shoulder top. To balance the volume below, Lyle tucks in her top. “I love these culottes because they have a great wide silhouette, but the tie belt perfectly cinches your waist, making them flattering and easy to wear,” explains Lyle. Her fringed boho bag adds levity and a carefree vibe to the otherwise streamlined look.



To dress up her culottes for night, Lyle pairs them with a sheer, beaded crop top. The flash of midriff has sexy allure—perfect for an evening out—but the culottes’ breezy glamour introduces an air of sophistication.


Whether you dress your culottes up or down, heels are a must. The combination of bare skin and a pointy-toe pump or stacked sandal visually lengthens legs.


Longer pins? All the better to take feminist strides with…