Workwear Edit: Culottes (And The Various Ways To Style Them)




You guys have been asking for more workwear ideas, so I thought it was a perfect opportunity to test out a trend I’ve had my eye on for quite some time: Culottes.  This look won’t be for everyone, but it has the kind of unexpected fashion-girl vibe I love bringing into the office (in small, professional doses anyway).

But these darn things are tricky!!  Especially for petites.  Happily, I found a culotte romper (just go with me here) that’s available in both petite and regular sizes to test out this trend.  (And it’s now 40% off, so there’s that.)



And while I did figure out a way to warm it up (inside an office I’d lose the leather jacket but it was TWENTY DEGREES OUTSIDE PEOPLE), I also wanted to focus on styling culottes for Spring/Summer when I think they’ll really shine. So we headed into the studio, because, obviously. #freezing

First up:  Flats and culottes?  Is it possible?  Let’s see….

Culottes And Flats?




I don’t….I don’t know.  I don’t hate it.  So….maybe?  I’ll bet someone tall could pull this off easily.

think like a tall girl, think like a tall girl…..






Culottes and Heels

Let’s take things up a notch….literally.



Yup.  That’s better.

I will even give the nod to the cage heels (below), which can sometimes be hard to pull off with overly complicated silhouettes.  (And by “overly complicated” yes I do mean silk jumpsuit-romper-culottes with a hairy purse.  Just so we’re clear.)  But date night, perhaps?  Or office parties, yes?



silk jumpsuit-culottes: Halogen Crop Wide Leg Jumpsuit (size petite XS)

nude flats: Tieks, but this Vince Camuto Ellen Flat is the perfect ballet pink, has awesome reviews, and is under $100

loafer:  old Aerosoles….but I can’t decide if I like Louise Et Cie’s Tomboyish Fleur loafer better, or the more feminine and tasseled shape of Jack Rogers Gabrielle loafer

leopard print heels: old Aerosoles….Ivanka Trump’s Leopard Pumps have a gorgeous shape (and expensive-looking pattern), yet a lower(ish) heel.

cage heels: Sam Edelman Essex heels (old)…but the newer version of Sam Edelman Essex heel is 40% off, and is either black or nude/gold snake and pretty. darn. hot.

bangle: old Stella & Dot…but this Alex & Ani Cross Wrap Bracelet would look seriously cool worn higher on the arm.

hairy purse: looong gone (a winter thing I think)….but if quirky bags are your thing, I really like Sole Society’s “HELLO” clutch or – gasp! – Rebecca Minkoff’s Leo Clutch in…MARBLE.



Ok, so assuming life-in-culottes is better in heels, let’s mess around with making these professional.  (S, put the hairy purse down.)



Highlight The Waist

Because there’s so much volume down under, my first instinct is to reign in everything up top.  A wrap top works perfectly (and the colors keep it interesting).  This trick would work perfectly for regular culottes, too (not just jumpsuit culottes).  Because fit is key here, I ended up going with petite sizes in the tops (but both are available in petite and regular).





Or try a simple tucked-in silk blouse.  I’m obviously wearing it jumpsuit style, but how cute, right?  I love this look.






silk jumpsuit-culottes: Halogen Crop Wide Leg Jumpsuit  (size petite XS)

silk blouse: Two By Vince Camuto Silk Utility Blouse (wearing a Petite Small for reference – comes in both petite and regular and oh!  40% off!)

wrap sweater: Nic + Zoe Four Way Convertible Cardigan in Clearwater (wearing a petite XS for reference – available in both petite and reg…I needed a petite to get it to hit right at my waist)

blazer:  Halogen Zip Pocket Jacket (wearing a Petite XS for reference….but these pics do NOT do this jacket justice.  It. Is. Amazeballs.  Trying to decide between black and white…??)

heels: various ancient red heels…I’m O-V-E-R shoes I can’t walk in for day…so these Louise Et Cie ankle-wrap heels would be perfect (in bright lipstick red).

glasses: Warby Parker Beckett in Jet Black Matte



Play With Proportions – Long / Cropped

Or is it long / long?  Because culottes are both cropped yet….long (depending on your point of reference – cropped for pants, long for shorts).  In any case, they introduce some really exciting possibilities with proportion.  Here’s the first, the long/long:



It’s official:  Long, drapy cardigans work with everything.  Even silk jumpsuit-romper-culottes.  I mean seriously.




silk jumpsuit-culottes: Halogen Crop Wide Leg Jumpsuit  (size petite XS)

sweater: Bobeau One Button Fleece Wrap Cardigan (aka the ‘magic cardigan’ that scores of nursing mamas rave about) – I’m wearing a petite XS for reference.

leopard print heels: old Aerosoles….Ivanka Trump’s Leopard Pumps have a gorgeous shape (and expensive-looking pattern), yet a lower(ish) heel.

glasses: Warby Parker Beckett in Jet Black Matte



More Proportion Play – Cropped / Cropped

Ok, now THIS is my very favorite.



I love how demure this look is….yet playful.  This is exactly the thing I would’ve worn to the office.  Back, you know….back when my job didn’t involve long hours in my closet-turned-office, sitting on babydolls and piles of clothes muttering things like “that’s the long/short of it? the long/long of it?  Maybe with stripes?”




silk jumpsuit-culottes: Halogen Crop Wide Leg Jumpsuit  (size petite XS)

sweaterEileen Fisher Marled Organic Cotton Boxy Cropped Sweater (wearing a PS for reference) – 40% off!

leopard print heels: old Aerosoles….Ivanka Trump’s Leopard Pumps have a gorgeous shape (and expensive-looking pattern), yet a lower(ish) heel.

glasses: Warby Parker Beckett in Jet Black Matte




So…yes.  I love these looks, I love this piece.  I’m tempted to hem it up just a few inches, but this length actually makes it perfect for wearing with….tall boots!!  Cause goodness knows I’m not walking around in 20 degrees with any sort of leg showing.  (And in fact, I have this entire romper layered OVER fleece-lined leggings.)












silk jumpsuit-culottes: Halogen Crop Wide Leg Jumpsuit  (size petite XS)

sweaterEileen Fisher Marled Organic Cotton Boxy Cropped Sweater (wearing a PS for reference) – 40% off!

jacket: Iro…this Blank Denim Leather Jacket is very similar

boots: old, BR…but these side-zip tall boots by Guess would look really cool under culottes, or these suede VC Signature boots would be SO sleek.

bag: old, Kate Spade Henry Duffle…the Kate Spade Sami Satchel is similar


Shop: Culottes

I found a few additional pairs of culottes I loved.  I did include a few designer pieces simply because they’re fabulous, and looking at perfect iterations of a trend helps sharpen our focus (whether it’s investing in that one perfect pair of pants or recognizing a good low-cost alternative).  Personally – and because I’m so short (5’2″) – I’d stick to culottes with flow.  The thicker fabrics would swallow me whole (and petite sizes are key if you are a shorty like me).

Fun, right?  In any case, I’ve been really darn impressed with Nordstrom’s petite section.  I mean seriously:  silk culotte-romper-jumpsuits?  It’s just so…fashion forward for petites.  Wow.



A huge thank-you to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post.  As always, all product choices, thoughts, and opinions are my own.  (Or as Pax would say, “MINE OWN”.)  Thank you for supporting the retailers who help support The Mom Edit.  

photography credits: Mike Draugelis


  1. This makes me so excited (not least because I have a FANTASTIC pair of culottes from a few years ago) yet nervous… are they anywhere besides Nordstrom? (aka will I look like a fool if I break them out–I assure you, they are amazing, and I want to wear them tomorrow).

    • YES! Marina, they’re EVERYWHERE. has covered them in the past year or so, Vogue, Refinery29 last summer…yeah. It often takes trends a bit to really pick up steam, but I think culottes are having a serious moment. Wear without fear. 🙂

    • Check out anthropologie! I have a few amazing pair from there. They even have a high-waisted black pair in new arrivals and a few in the sale section- like $60 sale!!!
      S. How would u funk these up for everyday???

      • Ooooo…let me think about that. The flats-and-culottes combo is growing on me. I’d love to try it with sneakers…and I’d probably add a soft moto jacket. Or maybe layer the whole thing over a short-sleeve tee.

  2. Do you have thoughts on narrow-fitting vs. “flowier” culottes? I tend to easily swing into “that woman has been eaten by a bolt of fabric” territory when it comes to flowy, drapey items so I wonder if the flowy factor decreased, whether you think they’d be more or less wearable… Hmmmm.

    • RIGHT? I get this, Seanna, I really, really do. I think the problem comes in when the fabric is too stiff or doesn’t drape well. Then it really matters where it hits, how it drapes…but I was pretty happy to find that the silk didn’t seem to be eating me alive. I credit the flow of the fabric.

      • As it happened, my co-worker strolled into our meeting yesterday in the most delicious tweedy, large-check, narrower-fitting but still drapey culottes. She wore them with tall boots and fitted turtleneck. UBER chic. I paid close attention to the drape – even with the narrow fit, a stiff fabric can be a killer, so I am off to experiment. 🙂 Thanks for this great post! I love posts like these that make me want to experiment with reckless abandon (lady swallowed by a bolt of fabric be damned!). BOOYAH.

  3. As a fashion challenged professional, I love your looks! just not sure I could pull this off as a suburban pediatrician. We could take a poll: would you laugh at your kids doctor if she were wearing culottes and telling you to sleep train your baby and throw the pacifiers away?? I mean, I DO have a fun job, but…..

    • Kirsten, as the old lady (cough*36*cough) in my Med 2 class, I’m planning to wear them to a patient encounter tomorrow (the short white coat isn’t so fashion-forward, alas). Go for it — with grown-up shoes and accessories can definitely pull off professional.

    • No laughing! I love that our mid-50s pediatrician has fun with her clothes. Plus, these culottes are easy to move in so make sense for your job (with heels, maybe not). I wear my culottes all the time to work, flats in the summer and boots in the winter. Signed, an urban psychiatrist.

  4. I actually love the culottes with the nude flats! I am tall, so I think it may work on me. And I am feeling the picture on the Nordstrom website for the culottes with the tennis shoes, I may actually wear these with my converse sneakers, maybe??

  5. I am dying over this post because tonight (before I saw it) my 2 1/2 year old daughter was helping pick out her clothes for tomorrow, and lo and behold, she chose a black velvet Janie and Jack pair of culottes (handed down from somewhere) that I was completely unsure of what to do with. Awesome timing and affirmation that she is reigning fashionista of our house!

  6. I love my black culottes! Mine are so old, and I don’t know if they have this shop in Philly, but I got mine at Shopko! Shopko of all places!! There’s a Shopko by my mom and dad’s house. Each summer on our way back out overseas we stock up on NO-AD SPF 30 from there. Well, many, many years ago, as I stumbled into their very budget women’s section, I found these culottes! I LOVE THEM. They’re actually so old I’ve had them re-dyed black again to rejuvenate them. (I do that sometimes with my most coveted items. Works wonders!) Anyway, I’ve style them with polka dotsand my red kimono. I’ve been actually thinking about pulling them out for a spin during the winter with tall boots like you have. Now I for sure will. This week I’m wearing dresses to work all week long, but I’ll pull them out next week–I’ll make sure to tag you Shana.

    My fave is your fave. I love it with the cropped sweater! Super cute!!


    Ann of Kremb de la Kremb

  7. I just want to say that, while I am not sure I would be able to pull off culottes (petite and very curvy, pear shape, big hips…) I do love this blog. I have been reading faithfully for awhile now and always find something worthwhile for myself, whether a styling idea, or a piece of clothing that I didn’t realize could transform a look. I ESPECIALLY love the looks that are really easy to imagine wearing around young children and all the things one does with them that can be so messy. I have an infant and preschooler at home and between the 2 of them I am always either wiping food or spitup off the floor, off my clothes, or something like this. So I do really dig the posts that speak to how one can feel “put together” even in those situations. It is VERY hard to pull off for a stay-at-home work-at-home mom. But I also like these posts even though I can’t really dress like this right now, just because it’s fun to look at and inspiring to see the creativity happening with these outfits. Thanks!

    • Wow, Jenny!! Thank you!! (And do you know what these remind me of? Remember those super-soft gauchos that we all wore with flip-flops and strappy tanks several years ago? I’m…tempted. Mike always loved how they made bums look.)

  8. I’m probably one of your older readers, and I’m thinking, what? They came back? I had a purple culotte set back in the mid-80’s that I adored, but I think I will be passing on the trend this time around. I’m too hippy now (I was then too, but much thinner!) to pull it off I think. I hope you all enjoy them, because they are fun/comfy to wear.

  9. Enabler has struck again! One Bobeau cardigan please and thank you. Reviews of this cardigan are over-the-top fantastic. I remember seeing this in Nordstrom months ago, feeling the ultra soft fabric, but decided not to buy it for some crazy reason. Can’t wait for this to arrive next week (and probably wear everyday till the boyfriend says “baby, what’s with the cardigan obsession?”). Thanks S!

  10. But Shana! I feel like these defy your ever-so-helpful-frequently-referenced pant leg infographic of the Ain’t No Mom Jeans era where you specifically said NO to pants that hit at the calf/widest part of your lower leg! I’m so confused! Maybe its the flowiness that alters the rule? I’d never say no to a comfy romper but my fashion brain is so confused!

    • YES! My question too! where should we let the crop pant/culotte hit on our calf? I am sure the shoe would make a difference also..xoxox LOVE these looks

    • YES! Emily, I totally get it – this is a GREAT question. So here’s the thing: sometimes we want to dress to show off our best assets, and sometimes we dress because we want to…evoke a feeling. (I know this is getting touchy-feely but go with me here.) I think boyfriend jeans are a good example of this: I love wearing them because they give off such a cool, tomboy vibe, but there’s NO doubt that my butt looks better in tight skinny jeans. Does that mean I’ll never wear boyfriend jeans? Nope. I still love to wear them because they are so…me. And these culottes are like that. Are they the world’s most flattering silhouette? Heck, no. But they have such a modern, fashion-girl vibe that I’m really digging right now. If I recall that infographic correctly, I declared that the area around with widest part of the calf was the “Danger Zone”. And it is. Clearly, culottes that fall right under your knee OR culottes that fall right where you calf starts to taper may be the easiest to wear. But that doesn’t mean you can’t wear something in the Danger Zone if you really want to make it work. (Although, now that I’m studying the culottes above, it looks like they hit right where my calf starts to taper.) Does this make sense? (At all? Haha)

  11. Shanna, I commented this morning with a remark that wasn’t positive about gauchos or netted beanies or harnesses, but that also wasn’t negative about you or your blog. I LIKE you and your blog, I just dont like the last few outfit ideas, and I’m disappointed to see that you deleted my comment. There’s a huge difference between polite disagreement and hating or online bullying- please dont lump us all together.

    • M – thanks for commenting again!! Yeah – I’m totally OK with polite disagreement – and truly, if everyone liked everything I don’t think I’d be doing my job properly – I LOVE pushing boundaries – but my feelings were hurt by the phrase “jumped the shark”. History has shown that those kinds of phrases – even when wrapped in constructive criticism – bring about the “pile on” of negativity recently experienced. And no one should have to hear that kind of stuff, especially about what they wear, or what they like. At the end of the day, keep in mind that I’m just a girl…writing a blog….trying to do her best.

      • Thanks for your constructive response! I honestly didnt mean to hurt your feelings, but rather I could point to a specific couple items in the last few weeks that indicate a total change in content. There’s a huge difference between criticizing your work product and criticizing you–I like you! I’ve been reading for AGES, and it’s so cool to see how this blog has evolved.

        But really, I hope you’d be more welcome to the feedback from long time readers- especially as if you’re making a profit from our readership and rstyle link clicking. There has to be a valid way to allow readers to express feedback- (obviously actual trolls dont count, but I think you’re smart enough to be able to know the difference) – whether it’s from gushing fangirls or disappointed, frustrated readers.

      • P.S. I’m sorry that I hurt your feelings. I’ve just realized that I didnt actually apologize, and I truly didnt mean to be mean. It’s easy to come across too harshly over the internet, where in real life, my words would come with a lot of smiles and head nodding.

        P.P.S. Did you know that this is the origin of the phrase ‘Jump the shark?”

  12. I love the last look with the boots..looks hip and wearable for me–I have chicken legs.. But what I really wanted to say are the Vince Camuto Ellen Flat that you mentioned are the best..I have two pairs and they feel so comfortable-I can’t wait for spring so I can wear them again…great price point compared to Tieks!!

    p.s. Shana..I think you are the greatest..end of story!!:)

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