Disclaimer: I used to hate culottes. When this trend emerged in Alexander Wang and Proenza Schouler's Spring/Summer 2014 collections, I was devastated. Sure, they're super comfortable, but wide-legged, cropped pants are incredibly hard to wear and are historically uncool. (In fact, the Wiki entry on culottes refers to them as "knee-breeches." *barfing sound*) The longer this trend prevailed, though, the more I began to see it was possible to look decent in a pair of cropped pants, and—gasp—maybe even look cool. Let's just say they've come a long way since our moms wore them in the '90s. So, I decided to round up my favorite culottes at the moment to prove that in 2014, cropped pants don't totally suck.
Photo: ASOS/Free People/Topshop
First up, the most accessible form of the culotte pant: an all-black pair that doesn't overwhelm your silhouette ($63). I also love the pants-disguised-as-a-midi-skirt look, which Free People nailed perfectly in a ditsy floral print ($70). If you want to go with some statement pants, Topshop has a structured orange pair that I'd totally give a try ($100).
Culottes also give you the chance to play with silkier fabrics that you (probably) wouldn't mess with if they were full slacks. I'm obsessed with this gray pair from Asos, which I would style in the exact same way they did here ($67). You'd think big prints + culottes = mega disaster, but Tophop's palm-print trousers totally defy logic ($80). And, since Asos routinely kills it in the styling department, here's another way you can wear orange pants and still look like a total badass ($58).
Photo: Forever 21/Urban Outfitters/ASOS
I could wear Forever 21's tiny, geo-printed, black-and-white culottes with literally everything in my wardrobe ($25), and Urban Outfitter's breezy, high-waisted pair are perfect for a scorching hot summer day ($20). If you're planning on sticking with the ol' skirt-as-pants trick, these bright green culottes certainly deceive the eye in the best way possible ($58).