I have been circling writing about culottes and wide leg cropped pants for some time now because I just don’t know how I feel about them.   This isn’t my first go around with culottes.  I’m 41 years old.  I have seen them before and, invariably I will see them again.  So here they are, in the stores staring at me, again.  I can’t say I am completely sold on them for myself, but given their emerging popularity, maybe I am in the minority.  What do you think of them?

Below are five looks ranging from wider leg crop pants to true culottes styles, along with some figure flattering tips to consider before you stock up.  I think there are a lot of figure issues to consider before you purchase them.

How to wear culottes and wide leg cropped pants

Outfit #1

Culottes These wide leg cropped pants from J. Crew may be narrower than the average culottes, but they still come with some issues, particularly if you are petite.  Most petite women avoid cropped pants, period, but adding a wide leg into the mix is a double disaster.  Yet, if these pants are a must for you, and you are itty-bitty, try higher heels and shoes that match the color of your skin tone to not break up the length of your legs further.  Lastly, avoid shapeless tops with wide leg crop pants which will just make you look shorter.

In this outfit, I added a printed top from eShakti, a pair of orange wedges for height, but watch the ankle straps if you have heavy legs and ankles, a turquoise bag from Macy’s and a gold bracelet from A.B.S. and hoop earrings from Banana Republic.

Outfit #2

CulottesWhile Culottes may look more balanced with higher heels, wide leg pair of cropped pants don’t have to be exclusively styled with heels.  In fact, I chuckle a bit when I see a pair of wide leg jeans, like this style from J. Crew, styled with spindly stilettos.  Really?  Maybe it looks interesting but where are these ladies going?

Of course, when wearing wide leg cropped pants with flats, like these red lace up sneakers from TOMS, the length of the pants is important.  No matter what your height, when the hem of your pants ends at the widest part of your calves your legs are going to look chubby.  Try to avoid it.  What also helps these pants look good with flats is the shaped t-shirt, like this one from Modcloth.  The waist shaping creates more balance and the wider shoulder line of the top counterbalances all the width at the hem of the pants.

For some color, I finished this outfit with a blue bag from Rebecca Minkoff, a printed scarf from Zappos.com, blue bracelet from Mango and elephant stud earrings from LOFT.

Outfit #3

CulottesWe’re now moving into true culottes territory with this black pair from Theory.  Here, I did style them with flat sandals from Tory Burch to give the pants a casual look.  Yes, it can work, but styling this way requires some thoughtfulness.  Hem them if the length of the culottes is weird or falls at the widest part of your calves.  Also, if you have heavy legs, wide leg pants can make heavy legs appear slimmer, however, ankle straps can ruin it.  I think a more substantial flat sandal might create more balance.

For this clean, modern look, I added this French Connection wrap top that is short enough to work with the culottes and added this statement necklace from BCBG and white bag from Coach.

Outfit #4

Culottes These culottes from Zara can go from work to weekend.  For casual, I added these more substantial pair of shoes from Anthropologie.  Given the wider leg of the pants, I used this shorter tie front top from Boden to create a cleaner look.  I mean, can you imagine how dumpy a relaxed tunic would look with these pants?  Oy.  Lastly, to finish the outfit, I added the ensemble with a handbag from Modcloth, a gold tassel bracelet from Bauble Bar and burgundy earrings from Max & Chloe.

Outfit #5

Culottes This last pair of culottes is from White House|Black Market.  I like the clean waistband and contour waist which can be flattering on many figures.  With the excessive fabric found in most culottes, a cleaner waistband may work better in creating a cleaner line.  Of course, you still need to be careful about whether the shape is right for you.  Watch the length, wearing shoes that are too dark, and will break your body up and make you look shorter and be sure to get a view of your backside before wearing these pants outdoors.

These pants are styled with a wrap top from Boden, printed wedges from Jessica Simpson, a pink handbag from Macy’s and pink necklace from Stella & Dot.

Shop for culottes

If you plan on making culottes and wide leg crop pants a thing in your wardrobe this summer, check out these additional styles.