We Love Culottes!
As some of you might know (we may have mentioned it once or twice….) our current obsession is definitely with culottes! Super smart or oh so comfy, a skirt and trousers in one – what’s not to love?!?
Despite the popular opinion that they are difficult to wear, we actually think they’re really versatile. Our Pinterest boards are full of inspiration pics of culottes styled for spring/summer and autumn/winter. We are loving light floaty versions with sandals and mules for the warmer months, and then cropped sweaters and boots for when it get’s cooler. (If that ever happens again – it’s soooooo hot here in the UK right now!).
So, it won’t come as any surprise that when we decided to do one of our ‘battle style’ videos we got a bit carried away and ended up choosing 4 pairs to review, each!
Where does the culotte come from?
Believe it or not, culottes were originally worn by men. In particular gentlemen of the upper-classes (think long socks, frock coats and buckle shoes!).
They were only adopted by women much later during the Victorian era because they wanted to lead a more active lifestyle.
It meant they could enjoy activities such as bike riding and gardening, but they were always disguised as skirts and the split was always hidden.
It was Italian fashion designer Elsa Sciaparelli (Coco Chanel’s biggest rival) who took the first brave steps to be out and proud with her culottes.
The ones she designed for tennis pro Lili de Alvarez to wear at Wimbledon caused uproar. The press called them “manly, with hints of lesbianism” and said she should be “soundly beaten” for wearing them! The cheek of it!!
By the 1950s culottes came in a variety of styles including Gauchos which are the cropped wide leg trousers that we see a lot of today.
Culotte or Not?
Culottes do seem to be the marmite of the fashion world. Some people thinking that they are incredibly unflattering on everyone (even going so far as to call them “man-repellers”). Whilst others, like us, think they are the best thing since sliced bread!
Although, we seem to hear a lot of people saying that they like the idea of culottes but don’t know whether they’ll suit them or what style to try. If that’s you, our advice is that it never hurts to get out of your comfort zone and give a new style a go! Why not head down to the high street and try a few different styles on before deciding which patterns might work best for you.
In the mean-time, we hope our Battle reviews can help you decide once and for all!!
Stitch Sisters Battle of the Culottes – Part 1
In Part 1 of our #CulottesOff we started with the comfiest of culottes, the type with an elasticated waist and relaxed style a bit like these fabulous versions.
After much deliberation we finally chose the Joanne by Ready to Sew Patterns and the Winslow by Helen’s Closet but there are a few more of this relaxed style on the market for the home sewer. These are the main ones we could find, but remember to look out for some vintage versions too. (We’ve heard culottes referred to as the “zombies of the fashion world” – not a decade goes by without them resurrecting!)
The Joanne culottes have an oversized double pocket at the front and unusual three piece leg construction, where two pieces are sewn together to make the back. It also has the option of paper bag waist or classic waist. They feature a slightly curved back seam and a curved hem to give an improved fit. It may be useful to some to know that Ready to Sew are a French company and so the pattern instructions come in both English and French (as separate documents).
Helen very kindly gifted us the Winslow pattern for our battle (but it was for an open and honest review and we promise it doesn’t bias us at all!). These usually have a traditional waistband and zip but Helen has produced quite a few free hacks on her website and an elasticated waist version is one of them. She also has tutorials for flat front/elasticated back, paper-bag waist and wrap-around versions. It really is a very versatile pattern and you could make many pairs which all had different looks.
Nikki made the Joanne culottes in a lightweight brushed denim and Rachel made her Winslows in a lightweight georgette.
If you’ve not watched it yet, why not check out our YouTube video all about it! Or read on for more details….
Once we got the PDF patterns sorted, the sewing couldn’t have been easier. Both patterns had really clear instructions and each pair came together nicely.
The Joanne Culottes have these large overlapping feature pockets which was fun to do and very well explained in the pattern. There is also an Expansion Pack available on the Ready to Sew website for slanted pockets instead of the featured ones. Nikki loved the big overlapping pockets and the paper-bag style waistband, this was the main reason for picking them as her choice. The elastic going into the denim waistband was a little tricky though….all that denim was hard on the fingers!
Size wise they came out as expected, they are a loose comfortable fit and you can adjust the elastic so the waistband fits as snug as you prefer. We can imagine these being made in a softer fabric with lots of drape, they would be just gorgeous.
The Winslows had been on Rachel’s ‘Make List‘ for quite a while and so she knew exactly which elasticated waist pair she was making for the Battle! She had this gorgeous stripe georgette in her stash and it ended up being a match made in heaven. Overall they were a really simple sew; they have just a front, a back, a waistband and pockets. Size wise they also came out fine and the elasticated waist gives you lots of room for adjustment.
Well, who was declared the winner?
Overall we decided the Winslow’s were the winners of our Battle of the Culottes – Round 1.
Nikki is keen to make a pair of Winslows herself but Rachel felt that the pocket details on the front of Joannes would put her off. We both felt the the Winslows are a fantastic basic go-to culotte that would suit any body shape. Plus with all the hacks available on Helen’s blog, you could make so many different versions that it is possible you might never need another culottes pattern (although we’ll let you know once we’ve reviewed the other six!!).
A huge congrats and thank you to Helen’s Closet!
What’s coming up in Round 2?
In Round 2 we will be comparing patterns from the Big 4 battling the “Split Skirt” style culottes. These are the very full ones that have lots of drape and are meant to look like a skirt rather than trousers. Round 2 will be on the blog & our YouTube channel next week so make sure you tune in for that!
We’d love to know from you guys whether you have made culottes or have any plans to. What patterns and fabrics are you using? We’d love to see pics too if you want to share them – either here or on any of our social media (just click the links below)
Thanks for stopping by and we’ll see you next time xxx
Nikki & Rachel x