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It won’t be an exaggeration to call culottes the hero piece for summers. Comfortable and cool, the sporty silhouette of the ’30s has come a long way. Today, runways are packed with playful renditions of this wardrobe classic. For SS ’19, Paul Smith has done culottes in soothing pastels, Ferragamo has versions in leather, and Michael Kors’ denim culottes resembled cropped trousers. How to wear culottes? A lot depends on the length, flare, how they are paired, and even occasion. Fashion insiders such as Miroslava Duma, Alexa Chung, Olivia Palermo, and closer home Sonam Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, and Deepika Padukone, have given us enough cues. But we break it down to make it even simpler.

Evergreen formals 
Image: Courtesy Pinterest
Olivia Palermo cutting a perfect frame in a pair of tailored culottes. Image: Courtesy Pinterest

Power dressing has moved beyond the basic pantsuit. Now, impeccably tailored culottes can also serve the purpose. Pair your culottes with a crisp buttoned-down or a sleek blazer and you are good to go. Takes cues on how to wear culottes from labels such as Ralph Lauren, known for its scaled leather versions, or even Bodice, whose Ruchika Sachdeva has created culottes featuring micro polkas, and Antar Agni who has made them in khadi. 

The thumb rule: Always opt for formal hues – blacks, greys and navy blues. To break the monotony, play with textures. A slim belt around the waist, or over the blazer does justice. 

Denim culottes 
Image: Courtesy Pinterest
Denim culottes are here to stay. Image: Courtesy Pinterest

Though a pair of jeans might be a closet staple, denim culottes pack a perfect punch for summers. A simple white T-shirt, a classic mandarin collared white linen shirt, or even a striking tank top works with them. Designers Namrata Joshipura and Label Ritu Kumar serve as some great inspirations. In case you want to further your sartorial game, an all-denim look will take you far. Add in a statement belt and you are good to go.

The length of the culottes can vary, so pick up pieces which complement your height (if you are tall and lanky, opt for ankle- grazing pieces; if you are medium to short, stick to pieces that are tea-length). Neutral tones are best. Team them with tops in striking summers hues – greens, oranges, and canary yellows. 

Prints and patterns 
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In case you are a beginner, go easy on prints and patterns

If you are willing to broaden your canvas, there is everything from traditional paisleys to ditsy florals to daring graphic prints to choose from. The dilemma that remains is if one should opt for a head-to-toe, print-on-print or print with a pattern? Even though pairing clashing prints and patterns are a rage, it’s a tough look to pull off. Start with classic monotone shirts, tops, even light summer blazers, and pair them with beautifully printed culottes. If making a statement is priority, opt for an all-print look – take cues from Payal Pratap Singh and Issey Miyake. 

Tones of white
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Miroslava Duma giving us cues on how to perfect white culottes

Whites and different tones of it are a significant part of the summer trend wheel. From the tailored, high-waist classic Céline-inspired culottes to the billowing ones in linen by Pratima Pandey, designers have presented enough cues on how to wear culottes in the season’s essential, white. Be it pairing with a simple striped tunic or a shirt, or even giving it a street style-chic spin by teaming it with a leather top (a la Miroslava Duma), there are no set rules.

One word of caution: Play the colour in your favour. Classic colourways such as black and white are the safest. White can easily transition into another boardroom classic so pull out those sleek chambray or cotton jackets and team them up with your culottes. 

Leather for summer? Yes, please! 
Image: Courtesy Getty
Black year culottes are an all year classic. Image: Courtesy Getty

One might not loop in leather for summers, but there are a number of interesting ways of playing with the material in this searing heat. Culottes cut a perfect silhouette in leather – for inspiration look to Fendi and Isabel Marant. Colourways of henna green, orange, and even rust work. Pair them with crops tops or belted-at-the-waist shrugs. Like geek-chic? Tuck your sleeveless top or your pussy-bow blouses in. For a more effortless look, opt for a tank top in a subtle tone but in the same colour scheme. 

Anupam Dabral
Sr. Associate Editor
It was while studying fashion journalism at London College of Fashion that Anupam developed a keen interest in the anthropological aspect of the discipline; for him, fashion only makes sense when seen in the context of its environment. He is always on the hunt for great stories, and in his spare time binge-watches films/shows starring Whoopi Goldberg, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.