How to wear culottes for petites

In the mid 90s I found a pair of denim culottes my mum wore in the 80s.

They were so trendy at the time and I wore them without being conscious of the fact that they were far too wide for my legs, too long for my height, and should not have been worn with another baggy element (ie top, jacket). I just thought they were the coolest things, but when looking at photos of when I wore them I looked rather dumpy.

Fast forward 20 years later and my far more self-conscious self looked at the re-emergence of culottes with a sense of dismay – I still really liked the look of them, but if I couldn’t pull culottes off when I was a teenager, how would I now? Never mind the fact that culottes are better structured these days; I approached the trend with trepidation. That was until I saw fellow petite blogger Grace from the gorgeous blog Color and Grace wearing culottes here and I was inspired to try them again!

A subsequent trip to Zara with my mum proved very fortuitous when I found a pair of dark denim culottes that 1. fit perfectly and 2. were on sale! After some umming and aahing and strong encouragement from mum I bought them (along with a beautiful white skirt which you may see pop up on the blog or Instagram soon!).

Now that I have said culottes, here are some points on how I’ll wear these culottes to work on my 5’0″ frame.

Always wear them with heels. This pains me as I am a dogged flats and sneakers lover, but culottes look so much better on petites when they’re paired with heels. I’ve worn them here with my new Novo lace up booties, but delicate strappy heels and heeled boots in winter also work well. What’s important is the colour of the shoes – for me, a dark colour like black is too blocky, and cuts off the line of the leg so it makes my legs look shorter (the exception is this type of heel). A light neutral colour like the grey of my booties, taupe, or nude helps lengthen the leg. Dark boots in winter work though – as there’s no cut off between the hem of the culottes and the top of the boot, the boot can actually help make the leg look longer.

Go for knee length or below the knee culottes; otherwise, make sure the culottes end at the skinniest point of the leg. When they’re knee length, culottes basically look like very long shorts, but at least they don’t cut off at some awkward mid-calf point. Culottes should end at the part of the leg where it’s skinniest – my Zara ones are longer than knee-length, but they end a couple of inches above my ankle which for me is the most flattering part of my leg.

Slim leg is more flattering. Slim leg culottes is a bit of an oxymoron as culottes are wide leg by design, but what I mean by slim leg is that it shouldn’t be too wide. I tried on a pair of gaucho pants at Uniqlo and they absolutely swamped my bottom half, they were so wide. The Zara ones I bought basically look like a cropped wide leg trouser and fell straight, not in some crazy triangle shape.

Do one colour or subtle print. I’m so glad the culottes I bought are in a dark denim as this is the most flattering colour for me in this trend – it’s slimming and lengthening at the same time. I’d stick to culottes that are just the one colour (like my dark denim or Grace’s camel culottes) or in a small print – big, loud prints and colours will probably overwhelm petite figures. Stripes can also work – vertical stripes to lengthen, horizontal stripes if you’ve slim hips (which unfortunately after 2 children I do not possess).

Go high waisted. Like with jeans and trousers, this does an excellent job of lengthening those petite legs of ours.

Tuck, tuck, tuck that shirt in. Again to lengthen and show that we do indeed have a waist. Cropped blouses with culottes would also work nicely on petite frames.

Outfit details:
Top – Miss Shop at Myer (similar)
Culottes – Zara (similar)
Booties – Novo Shoes (I’m in love with this pair too!)
Bag – Marc by Marc Jacobs crossbody
Bracelet – vintage turquoise cuff (similar)

If you’re ready to give culottes a go, check out the gallery below for culottes under $100.

What do you think of culottes? Would you dare to wear? Let me know!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *