Consider the Culottes

Not quite pants, not quite shorts either


Culottes! Of course! It was only a matter of time before the neither-pants-neither-shorts streamed into the fashion consciousness to stake their claim as Best Trend Ever and at last! Here we are! Considering culottes the way David Foster Wallace once did lobsters! Marveling in the notion that come summer, real summer, the respite from denim cut-offs might actually, finally be a pint of ice cream and some taffeta to cover the residual effects of the saccharine, dairy confection.

But why was it only a matter of time?

If you’ve got your walking sneakers, I’ve got the tools to help jog your memory.

On July 12, 2012, when I still occupied the same residence as two adults who bear the same last name as I do, who have heretofore convinced me of their status as my respective creators, I considered resort. (The season — not the beachside, temporary places of occupancy.)

There was Marc Jacobs and Derek Lam and of course there was Celine. Gucci got involved, too, and all these design houses, these prolific, reputable design houses, introduced a silhouette to the zeitgeist. One I mistakably derived from Italian culture and called “the cropped palazzo pant” when I should have known the word that is French-derivative is always the one that prevails.

Fast forward nearly two years and here we are + green Taffeta culottes + navy taffeta shirt (I swish when I walk) + ice cream.

I am personally inclined to vet in favor of the born-again cropped pants for two reasons. The first being fashion’s uncanny and always-inevitable ability to forecast itself. For every ten trends that fall off the same season of their inception there is always The Unassuming One. This one tends to come in like a lamb, allow itself to be shepherded until BAM! It’s a lion, disseminating its raison d’être faster than a Mexican mouse runs through the desert.

Trend specifically, the pants also seem to allow for a larger demographic of body types to participate in a pop-culturally accepted trend, which, by the way, may or may not hearken back to a vague and oft-misunderstood totem of prehistoric feminism with their meditated, look-like-a-skirt-but-split-like-pants appearance. Of course, there will be arguments running amuck both in favor and against the look so, who’s interested in delving into the meat of that? Say Bill Nye The Science Guy, I!

Go ahead, shop around. Our slideshow is optimized to facilitate your dropping it like its hot.

Photography by Matt Borkowski

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  • Jake

    Loved the new episode with

  • eleanor

    ooh i love these! the green colour is so gorgeous! 🙂

  • Lisa

    I can’t exactly say why, but I have a slight aversion against culottes (Oh yes, I remember: They remind me of my biology teacher in 7th grade.) I can’t help, but you will never see me in them, I guess 🙁

    Lisa – AT LEAST BLOG

  • Savannah

    Yes, finally! I’ve been waiting for you to discuss the culotte. I’ve actually been shopping around for the perfect pair. Topshop currently has some very nice offerings.
    But my question to you is, what is the difference between a culotte and gaucho pants? Because I vaguely remember purchasing a pair of denim gaucho pants embroidered with rhinestones in the 9th grade and they looked a lot like today’s culotte trend.

    • Leandra Medine

      I’m pretty sure gauchos can only be cotton

        i recently got into a debate with my office manager and the doctor i work for (super casual office environment) about the difference between culottes and gauchos. their argument: gauchos and culottes are essentially the same, and that the former term was replaced by the latter term in an effort to make the article of clothing in question sound chicer/French-er.

        • María Landívar

          From Argentina, the land of the gauchos, I¨ll try to humbly enlighten you about the differences between the two. Gaucho pants, called “bombachas de campo”, are always tight at the ankles, so you can easily put on your riding boots. I think that’s the main difference. Culottes are much more elegant to wear.

  • Culottes are so trendy this season, I love them, but I can’t get over the fact that it means ‘panties’ in French (I’m a froggie)… It just cracks me up!

    Mafalda ❤

  • Quinn Halman

    This is the one piece I feel you really need confidence to rawk it

  • monkeyshines
  • natalie in jeans

    Oh god those are obnoxious. (I’ll probably be wearing them by the end of the month.)

  • Shade of Red Blog

    Love your sandals too! Purrrrfect beady pair!

  • Funny, I was putting together a similar post. Interestingly, when I searched for the word “culotte” on almost every major online shopping site, i got the dreaded “no results found”, even though they were clearly selling culottes. It appears that even though the fashion world has re-embraced the 70’s style, apparently they have yet to accept the word into their lexicon. As Malfada noted, perhaps it’s because they do mean “pantie” in french.


  • Tonikali

    L, Only YOU can turn something fucking ugly into love .

    • zoe_whip

      You should have stopped at fucking ugly…


    uhh culottes were 18th century men’s pants with them little tights and shit, hence revolutionaries too poor to afford them were called the sans-culottes.

    this is kinda far from the original huh

  • nosilla

    *bear, not bare. Love the pants, though (or are they shorts? The world will never know)!

    • Leandra Medine

      good catch – thank you!

  • Sonia

    I’ve always been a big fan of culottes ever since I was a kid! I had the best pair (one of about three) that were perfectly tailored and for an active (tomboy) I loved the versatility. I’m on the hunt for a new pair for petites.. Love your post! x

  • Teresa

    YES!!! I love the look, the proportion, and the ease of casual elegance. They are perfect in-between skirt/short/grandma’s capri that I have been on the look out for this summer and ride their billowing glory into fall. I want. I need. Thank you!

  • Emily

    i picked up a pair of phillip lim black culottes the other day and my boyfriend calls them my clown pants. I wore them to work today and i don’t think anyone ‘got it’ either so thanks for this post cuz it really validates my culotte-wearin’ self.

  • The more I see them, the more I like. Jumping the bandwagon?? By the way, I am beyond obsessed with that shirt you’re wearing!! So gorgeous!!

  • Debbie Iles

    Oh my goodness!!! I LOVE those that outfit on you. Super gorgeous. You cannot believe my surprise…I literally just pressed post on my latest creation…CULOTTES! only to see your post pop up for me two seconds later on the exact same item. I’m honoured to be of the same mind as you 😉

  • Lucy
  • Kihm

    I remember when Evy Weinrub wore culottes to school, circa 1963, and got sent to the office; the nurse sewed the back and front, creating a skirt, and Evy returned to class.

  • lavieenliz

    I love culottes!!

  • Lauren

    As a petite lady, I was initially afraid to try this trend for fear that it would further stump me. But I was wrong! With a higher rise and cropped length, it makes my waist look tiny, gives my hips some wiggle room and my legs look miles longer! I love this look and am thinking I might have just discovered my new uniform. Be gone skinny jeans, hello wide-legged freedom!

  • Eva Kuzyk


  • Esther

    Been considering that lobster for ten days now.

  • Cakey Sportsman

    mixed style garments like these are the best. they consider silhouette pretty seriously, and on that note, I think that’s why I like them; too much of the on trend fashion at the moment fails to recognise the importance of silhouette.


  • Your outfit is very cool! I love the pants!

  • This look doesn’t work if you’re not a fan of your midcalves. Mine are awkwardly varied in size because one leg is stronger than the other from my running style, I suppose.

    • Leandra Medine

      Au contraire! These culottes fall just BELOW my calves, which are stricken by the plague of athleticism, too, highlighting only my inconsistently small ankles.

      • Ahh! Then I will have to try!

      • Forgot to mention that you have really great calves! Very, very athletic [muscle emoji here].

  • Namrata

    I love culottes! I have skinny legs, and this always works the best for me.


  • Sophie

    Utterly doable. And stylish for that matter.

    Sophie x

  • Great skirt! The emerald green looks perfect on you!

  • faima

    Ohhh, love the green+blue! And shoes are adorable!

  • I can’t, I just can’t embrace them…

  • Jelena Keravica

    My Mom used to wear these about 30 years ago. She still has them, I’ve tried them on, they fit, but I guess I still need courage to wear them! Although, I’ve found ones that were slightly shorter, so I’ve completely cut them off to make a skirt-like shorts. It looks great and nobody ever suspects I’m actually wearing shorts 🙂

  • okay…DVF did a version last year styled with knee high boots that I was obsessed with and was sold out. Does anyone remember when Ms. Lauryn Hill rocked them on stage at the ’99 VMA’s? I will never forget that outfit. Loving the Adam Lippes denim version out for spring 14. denim + culottes = Leandra

  • Elli

    Great, this is what I mostly wear in the summer ! Good thing it is now trendy !

  • Sarah

    Someone below/above said they were “expletive” ugly. Not so! They share the same outline as a midi skirt, with the convenience and comfort of a trouser, make you think of Mary Tyler Moore, they look awesome on leandra, and me, so I must disagree. They wore them in nthe 20’s, 40’s, 70’s and 80’s, and most decades in between had a few style issues, so I say they are “expletive’ awesome.

  • Lucie

    I love your sandals !!! Could you please say where does they come from ??

  • mathek

    did a post on this a month ago! I LOVE THEM!

  • I love the bright green ones. These are tricky to wear for people who are short, I would not be caught dead in them with flats at my 5′ 3″ height. Sky high heels are my saviors in this situation.

  • I would look like a FUCKING IDIOT in culottes. My wide hips and juicy buns encased in those wide pant legs would have me looking like an actual circus tent.


    F*ck yeah! All my culottes are in fashion this season! (I’ll wear them anyway…)

  • TieshaP

    This is one of my favorite looks, I loved them when I was a kid and I still love them now 🙂

  • reversecommuter

    I want desperately to “swish when I walk” so culotting I will go!
    xo reversecommuter

  • We are obsessed with some of these culottes! Definitely an essential piece for spring, we will have to pick up a new pair!

  • agnes

    I tried to wear one this summer. what do you think?