On a recent trip to Europe, I noticed culottes in the shops. I’ve never worn a pair and would like to try them—what do I need to know?
—Elizabeth G., Marco Island
I’m not surprised you’ve never had the opportunity to wear culottes—they were a major trend back in the ’80s, after which they retired gracefully from our closets, and we’ve rarely seen them since. I’m glad to see their return, as they can be a stylish and practical alternative to pants or skirts. Not quite trousers and more a divided skirt (another name by which they’re known), culottes typically have voluminous legs that flare out from the waist, and their length can be from just below the knee to a few inches above the ankle. Because of the cut, culottes can be tricky, so here are some tips on looking chic:
• If you’re petite, choose culottes with a high waist to lengthen you, and wear them with a great heel. Taller women can pull off wearing theirs with lower heels.
• Balance the proportion by wearing a slimmer, more form-fitting top.
• Fabrics with body—linen, twills, cotton drill and firmer silks—tend to work bet- ter for culottes than very soft, drapey materials.
Cheryl Lampard, founder of Style Matters International, answers your questions each month. If you have a question for Cheryl, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What to Wear: to a Day at the Races
We know the Derby is gone, but we still have the Belmont Stakes (June 6)—and dressing up for race day is part of the experience. I’d advise checking in advance the dress code of the particular horse-race viewing you’re attending, as some are more formal than others. A foolproof ensemble would be a great floral dress, a jacket or stole for less than perfect weather, a pair of dressy shoes (make sure you can walk in them across uneven ground if you’re attending the real deal) and, to top your outfit off, a gorgeous wide-brimmed hat. For gentle- men, a blazer and pants is classic attire, or a summery seersucker suit teamed with a colorful tie and a pocket square would be a sure winner.