Culottes for Curves

If there’s anything that can simultaneously embody French minimalist style and hygee–“hoo-ugh”, or Danish coziness, 2017’s style meme–it’s culottes. After years of skinny silhouettes, culottes made an entrance a few years ago, and have slowly but steadily became mainstream. They’re soft and swishy, and can be dressed up or down.

Unfortunately, if you have a short inseam, or relatively larger hips and thighs, you’re supposed to abide by a set of rules in order for culottes to look remotely flattering.

Wear pointed shoes so that your legs don’t look stumpy.

Make sure the hem falls closer to your knee, so that your legs don’t look stumpy.

(There is no greater crime than stumpiness).

And finally, seek out culottes with slimmer legs, to minimize attention to your “problem” areas.

Now, if you’re still interested in wearing culottes, I applaud your perseverance because guidelines like that tend to discourage me from shopping, period.

Culottes were an exception, however, because I saw their role in my wardrobe as one that could fit nicely into casual and work settings, as well as in religious and cultural environments where more “modest” attire was expected.

Accordingly, I wanted more leg coverage, and preferred the pants to hit just a bit above my ankle, rather than mid-calf–not an issue for short legs. I also intended to wear sneakers or flats, rather than pointed shoes or heels. Even though I was willing to make sacrifices in terms of what looked best, it was still surprisingly difficult to find a pair that was just flattering enough.

If you have a shorter, curvy figure, feel free to abandon the guidelines above (courtesy of In Style), but try not to compromise on the fabric or structure.

Prioritize culottes that are structured and substantial. Many styles are either too slim or clingy in the hip area, making it difficult to fit if that’s where you naturally carry more weight. It’s easier for the designers and manufacturers to use stretchy fabrics than it is to factor in pleats and darts. Additionally, consider high-waisted culottes as an option, because they are tailored to your waist, and are cut more generously in the hips.

In the end, what worked for me were styles similar to these by Everlane and Club Monaco. Kit & Ace’s Rhodes trouser (above, as styled in Harper’s Bazaar) were also fabulous, but are no longer carried in stores or online.

Have you found a pair that works for you?

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