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Culottes Controversy: The Verily Editors Wear This Season’s Trickiest Trend

Is it a skirt? A pair of pants? Wait, seriously, what is this thing?
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Love them or hate them—culottes have resurfaced, causing many women to cry out in confusion, “Are they pants or skirts?!” Are they chic or unflattering? Most importantly: Should I get a pair?

The editors at Verily decided to test-drive a few pairs to see what the deal is. Here are our thoughts on this trend in pants . . . or skirts. Skirt pants. Skants?

Krizia Liquido // Lifestyle Editor

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Shop Krizia’s culottes: Asos, $63

Krizias thoughts on culottes:

As a personal fan of more classic styles, I usually raise an eyebrow toward trends that are resurrected from the dead. I was hoping to hate the pair I was asked to sport for this experiment. I mean, they were bad enough to lose their popularity the first time around. What makes us think that won’t happen again?

For this test-drive, I was handed two options: a relaxed all-white pair with a lace overlay or a more office-appropriate solid cream high-waisted number. The latter seemed more promising. The loose material kept me cool, while the pant aspect prevented me from having to worry about a skirt blowing up. It wasn’t until I saw my reflection on an office building outside that I realized the kind of awesome vintage vibe I had going on.

I’m petite, so the culottes turned out to be more like wide-leg trousers on my frame of 5 feet 2 inches. This is where I sort of fell in love with them. This season’s tailored culottes are definitely an upgrade from the stretchy, oddly named gauchos of the early 2000s. Our editorial assistant, Lilly, even said to me, “You look like Katharine Hepburn.” While I’ve always considered myself more of an Audrey, I was certainly down to dress like another equally iconic leading lady. Yes. I was sold. Thank goodness this pair is on sale at Zara.

Monica Gabriel // Relationships Editor

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Shop Monica’s culottes: Forever 21, $18 (similar)

Monicas thoughts on culottes:

Never having heard of culottes before—and generally hesitant about anything that cuts my frame of 5 feet 3 inches off at the calves—I was mildly horrified when Kara handed me these very confused-looking pants. Not pants but not quite a skirt either. I surveyed them carefully trying to find redeeming qualities. A high waist—that’s a good start. Nope, no, there was no getting past the little bow-tie print and the way they flared out right at my hips—a curvy woman’s nightmare. But as my feet slipped into each spacious leg, and I zipped them up over my hips, my heart softened a bit.

Despite my initial fears, these pants were not irredeemable. The pleating at the hips actually spared my butt from being lost in a sea of fabric, and the silky material slid off my hips in a way that flattered. These culottes offer the swish and twirl of a skirt . . . but they are actually pants. Not sure if that whole concept is a selling point for me, but after giving this printed number a try, I would definitely be open to a pair in a nice solid black.

Kara Eschbach // Editor in Chief

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Shop Kara’s culottes: Anthropologie, $140 (similar)

Kara’s thoughts on culottes:

In theory, culottes should be everything I love. Childhood throwback? Check. No chafing? Check. Appear to be super comfy? Check. I want to be on the culotte train! But I’m generally slow to commit to trends—seriously, it took me three years to buy a pair of skinny jeans—so I was hesitant.

In the spirit of a style challenge (and because, frankly, I couldn’t find any others), I went for a chino pair. I have to say, I think these look far better in the photos than they did in real life, which probably says a lot more about me than the pants. But the whole could-pass-as-a-skirt-but-thank-God-they’re-pants thing that generally appeals to me about culottes doesn’t really happen with this material (why, oh why, are these so stiff?). Also, at 5 feet 3 inches, they aren’t culottes so much as . . . obscenely large pants. Definitely not going to spend my hard-earned cash on these puppies.

So after all that, my feeling on culottes is: not terrible. Maybe if they’re around next year I’ll consider investing in a pair.

Lilly Bozzone // Editorial Assistant

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Shop Lilly’s culottes: Mango, $60 (similar)

Lillys thoughts on culottes:

After seeing culottes on all my favorite style bloggers, I was dying to get a pair of my own. I was hoping that culottes would live up to my expectations of being an elegant vintage throwback yet modern and edgy. I was also pretty darn ecstatic that I got the editors to try on these crazy pants, let me tell you. I was 100 percent positive I’d love mine.

I hadn’t tried mine on before, and to my horror—just fifteen minutes before shooting these photos—I realized I totally hated them. They were bizarrely tight around the rear and then dropped down into a shapeless blob of red fabric. I looked in the bathroom mirror and thought, “Oh crap, I got everyone to try on culottes, and now I hate mine.” I slinked sideways down the hallway so no one could see the culotte rear-end disaster going on behind me, and I quickly grabbed my backup pair, which were white and from Zara. To my relief, they fit perfectly.

The white pair was loose all around—a silhouette similar to that of a midi skirt, which is more flattering for women who, like me, have bigger hips and thighs. Thank goodness the white pair worked out!

Haruka Sakaguchi // Graphic Designer

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Shop Haruka’s culottes: Urban Outfitters, $40 (similar)

Harukas thoughts on culottes:

As an LA native, gauzy tops, strappy sandals, and loose-fitting harem pants are my M.O. Needless to say, culottes are totally within my comfort zone; I will take them over tight jeans any day. Aside from the comfort level, this high-waisted pair gives the illusion of longer legs, which is a plus for my frame of 5 feet 4 inches. Yes. All day, every day.