Firm Fashion Favourite: Chic Culottes for Cheltenham

Love them or hate them (and like the skirt itself the fashion world appears to be split), culottes have made a serious comeback leaving all other trends rooted at the starting post.

They have waited patiently and fought hard to become THE Fashion Favourite. Starting life (in women’s fashion) undercover, they liberated our Victorian great great grandmothers from the confines of their cumbersome skirts, providing the freedom to participate in horse riding, cycling and tennis. We say undercover because alas in order to be socially accepted, they had to be disguised with ruffles, pleats or a wrap-around panel so as to keep the illusion of a skirt.

Daringly they showed their true split self in the 1930s via designer Elsa Schiaparelli causing a little outrage which soon passed. But from then on it was no more hiding behind skirts!

River Island rust smart culottes £40; River Island smart culotte shorts £35; JD Williams Joanna Hope mock suede culottes £40

Many say that culottes are hard to wear but the modern day culottes come in various lengths, widths and fabrics; from knee length to just above the ankle, from slim to voluminous and from delicate silk to hardy denim – so there is a style for every shape and size.

For Cheltenham we have gone for a more tailored and slimmer silhouette whilst upping the fashionista stakes with leather.

Price approx £298 from Jigsaw.

Tops

Culottes are so versatile and can be worn with a variety of tops to look casual or smart. Tops can range from the cropped skinny tops (favoured by Rihanna), simple tees, boyfriend shirts and slouchy jumpers to classic pussy bow blouses, tailored crisp shirts and cool roll-neck jumpers – just choose the style you feel the most comfortable in.

To keep warm at the races we’ve chosen the classic roll-neck jumper in luxurious soft cashmere and semi fitted for a smarter style: Johnstons of Elgin 2 Ply Roll Collar sweater knitted in Hawick, Scotland in 100% cashmere. Go for the same colour top if you want a slimmer and longer silhouette. Also available in other colours.

Price £235 from Johnstons of Elgin.

Footwear

Culottes can be worn with heels (both chunky or stilettos), mannish brogue shoes, sandals or sneakers depending on what style you are looking for. The most fashionable way to wear culottes in the winter months is with an ankle boot with a chunky heel.

Dune’s Oxbury ankle boot also comes in navy and cream. We’ve chosen the black to wear with black tights and the black culottes– this way the silhouette is kept elongated creating clean lines.

Price: Was £130, now £85 from Dune.

Jacket/coat

Like the tops, culottes will look good with a range of jacket/coat styles from the cropped boxy jacket, bomber, and biker or tailored fitted jacket to a voluminous longer jacket/coat. We’ve chosen a short faux fur jacket in icy grey from Oasis for warmth and Hollywood glamour.

Price £80 from Oasis.

Hat

The fedora hat is still in vogue thanks to the ’70s trend. Oliver Bonas grey fedora will complement the grey faux jacket and lighten the look of the black jumper and culottes without taking the limelight from the star of the show – the culottes.

Price £28 from Oliver Bonas.

Accessories

Be bold and colourful with your accessories so as to lift the dark outfit. The culottes can handle a little competition from accessories without being upstaged.

Jaeger’s flat cube cluster necklace in lime give a contemporary look and splash of colour to the black ensemble.

Price £75 from Jaeger.

Therapy’s Fiona Frame handbag adds texture with its pattern and fabric, plus a ray of sunshine yellow. The ladylike top handle is one of the handbag trends for SS16 but never fear if you need your hands free to do all that betting, this one does also have a shoulder chain strap.

Available from House of Fraser. Price: Was £39, now £29.

La Redoute denim culottes £29Hobbs Cozette culottes £110La Redoute Laura Clement pleated grey culottes Price was £69 now £20.70

It is hard to believe that culottes started in men’s fashion as a fine pair of gentleman’s tight breeches, ending at the knee and fastened with buttons or a buckle. Unlike women’s culottes which gave some freedom to the Victorian ladies, the male culottes were on the wrong side of liberty during the French Revolution. Worn by the wealthy, they became a symbol of oppression as the uprising working class (who wore trousers) proudly called themselves ‘sans-culottes’ (without culottes).

Whilst the men’s tight knee breeches have long gone (but never say never in fashion!), the women’s culottes has survived and blossomed into today’s must-have item. Which style will you go for?

Karen Grace studied Personal Styling at the London College of Fashion and is a registered affiliate member of the Federation of Image Professionals International. You can read more of Karen's fashion advice at: www.frumpytofunky.com For personal shopping and styling services you can reach her via frumpy to funky on contact@frumpytofunky

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