How to Style Culottes 3 Ways | Casual, Smart & Office | Indigo, Grey, Blue & Red

Culottes - tricky garments, aren't they?  Do you wear them or are you wary, wondering whether you'll be swallowed up by swathes of wafting material?

Following the success of my How to Style a Maxi Shirt 3 Ways, I thought I'd follow it up with another How To Style post on an item that can be tricky to get right, particularly for a petite.

The dreaded Culotte.

There's been something of a renaissance in trouser styles the last few seasons. The choice of length, cut and fit is mind boggling - bistro, cigarette, crop, wide legged crop, capri, cargo, palazzo, culottes and this year's new kid on the block - the crop kick flare.  Truly a style and shape to tempt and please everybody's body and taste.  And this is true for culottes from knee length styles to full on ankle skimming gauchos.  I'll stick with the term culottes for the rest of the post, as this seems the most commonly used word.

A decade ago I would've run for the hills at the thought of wearing culottes, labelling them fuddy duddy!  

However, they've grown on me and last year I searched for a pair but without success.  Cut, fit, material, didn't make the grade. Undeterred, I thought I'd give it another whirl this year and prepared myself for a long and potentially impossible haul to culotte heaven.

I tried 3 pairs for starters.  First pair from New Look were pretty much like last year's and were discarded for exactly the same reason as the previous season.  Cheap, shiny material.

Second pair were these ASOS Petite Wide Legged Culottes.

Look lovely don't they?          I thought they'd look lovely on.         NO, darling.  A total disaster!

Oh my, the pleats made them soooo voluminous, if I'd had a spinnaker, I could've rigged them up the mast and sailed to the Caribbean with them!  Back they went.  And whoever thought such voluminous pants on a petite was a good idea also needs to go back to fashion design school!

The 3rd pair, these ASOS Petite Linen Check Culottes were bought on a whim.

I thought they won't be flattering.           They'll be too long.         The tie belt will be too bulky.

But they were bought because I liked they were a linen mix, and the wide check pattern.

Well stone the crows, if they didn't just turn out fine and dandy!

Yes, they are long, more gaucho in length but not overwhelmingly so.
The tie belt isn't too bulky and you can wear them without it.
The silver grey goes with sooo many colours.
AND they've got deep and I mean DEEP pockets!

Culotte Nirvana!


On our recent city break to Copenhagen, Denmark, they were one of the first items I packed in my suitcase so, I'm starting with an easy, yet stylish look from my trip.

Clothes you pack for holidays should ideally be able to make multiple outfits, more so if you're travelling with hand luggage only.  Having worn the culottes for a day of sightseeing with a white embroidery anglaise top, they also had to do a turn for a night out.

In the warm glow of a Copenhagen evening, Tall Brown Fox and I went for a casual dinner to Papirøen, or Paper Island. Formerly a giant, paper storage warehouse in the harbour, it's a foodie landmark in the City, as part of it now houses Copenhagen Street Food.  Over 20 different food stalls selling street food from all over the world alongside local cuisine.

Soft textures of a chambray top and a light wash denim jacket with rolled up sleeves blended perfectly with the linen culottes and suited the laid back vibe of the venue.  Metallic accessories of cross body bag, necklace and spiral bracelet all work with the silver greys and blues.

Style Tip: When walking on cobblestones, of which there are many in Copenhagen, there ain't no point wearing high heels, unless you want to take 3 hours wobbling your way to somewhere!

My block heel, Topshop Ghillies, which were such a fantastic buy last year, made light of this tricky road surface and I think look just adorable with the culottes!

Holidays might be over but my culottes keep on working.  

Tunic Dress & Brooch

Could these culottes work for smarter occasions I wondered?  Not full on formal but for times when you want to be a little more dressy and a little less ordinary or obvious.

I ordered the tunic dress at the same time as the culottes; not to wear with them at all but simple to try another dress style. However, I wasn't immediately sold when I put it on.  The culottes caught the corner of my eye lying on the bed, having been tried on moments earlier and couldn't resist seeing how they paired.  The rest is history, as they say!

British summers are frequently temperamental.  It's not unusual to still be wearing ankle boots during the summer months.  I opted for grey suede boots so as not to break the colour line of the culottes.

I wanted a finishing touch that wasn't run of the mill i.e. a necklace.  Culottes and a tunic dress are hardly a run of the mill combination!  The wide dress belt completely lent itself for decoration with a brooch.  After tying, I partially folded the belt over, before pinning the brooch. Once in place, violà; an eye-catching alternative to a statement necklace!

Style Tip: Brooches aren't just for lapels.  Use them on waistbands, belts, bags even hats.  Co-ordinate any other accessories using similar colours, size and style, even if they don't exactly match the brooch.

A night at the theatre, an exhibition opening, evening office drinks; I'd happily wear this outfit to any of these.  Pop my invitation in the post please.

Polka Dots / Masculine Chic

Time for some pattern mixing with an old favourite - polka dots!  

Polka dots and stripes work so well together and although the culottes are strictly a check pattern, there's still enough of a striped effect with the two tone palette of the off white and grey in the culottes, to get away with pairing them with dots.

When pattern mixing, it's generally a sensible idea to have the same colour present in each pattern to link them, or at least to have the colours in the same tonal palette.

Well, I've thrown that one out the window here, haven't I?  But it still works.  Why?  

- By wearing the belt as a tie, I've co-ordinated the top and bottom halves of my body.
- The dots of the shirt are small enough that they're not overwhelming the check, despite the red being the bolder colour.
- Plus red and grey are fabulous together.

Having been inventive with the dress belt in the last outfit, I thought I'd try to do the same with the culotte belt.

Style Tip: when a belt is a soft fabric one, you can wear it either as a tie or as a head band  As I chose a shirt, it was obvious to feature the belt as a tie!  I had to wrap the belt fully once around the collar before making the tie, as otherwise the ends would've been dragging down to my knees!  But hey, you wouldn't have know that unless I told ya!

A snakeskin belt filled the loops where the original belt would have sat.  I like being neat and tidy!

ASOS Petite Linen Check Culotte with Tie  In the sale, only small sizes available.
ASOS Petite Linen Strip Wide Leg Trouser
Glamorous Petite Striped Culottes
Next Plain Culottes available in black, red or stone in regular and petite.

Culottes Footnote

I'm so glad I didn't settle for second best last year and instead, held out to find the pair I absolutely love and which suits my style.  It can be tempting to fall into the trap of buying something just because it's the current on trend garment.

- Try on different lengths - just below the knee, mid calf or just above the ankle to see what works best for both your shape, height and proportions.
- Don't just assume that shorter is better if you're a petite as it depends on your body ratios.
- Cut and fit vary hugely.  I went for a more tailored, high waisted pair.  Although they are a linen mix so crease slightly, they still hold their shape well.
- Avoid cheap, synthetic type materials.  They won't hang well on your body, can cling even when it's not hot and can show every lump and bump.
- Avoid inside leg pleats and/or front waistband pleats (unless you are an inverted triangle with narrow hips and want to balance them out with your shoulders).  They will add volume especially if the culottes are cut to flare out.
- Elasticated waists add bulk around the middle.  Choose ones with a proper waistband.

Have you embrace the culotte trend?  And which look of mine is your favourite?

Linking with Garay Treasures / Confident Twosday / Up,Down,AllAround /

Seasonal Skinny Wk 30: Abstract Shirt: Red and Green

Before we get underway with today's post, I just wanted to thank everyone for their messages and kind words of support about my Dad's cancer.  
They have given me a much needed boost at this difficult time.

I hope you've got a head for heights as this week's edition of the Seasonal Skinny comes to you from atop of the Rundetårn, the 17th century Round Tower in Copenhagen, Denmark!

Tall Brown Fox and I were there a couple of weeks ago celebrating my 50th birthday!

We had planned to visit Copenhagen last summer but we had to postpone. In a way, a longer wait made our visit all the more exciting, especially being there the week of such a big '0' birthday!  It turned out to be a week of wonderful surprises, one of the best birthdays in a long time and a much needed break after the news about my Dad having cancer.

I'm generally hopeless with heights but I could hardly turn down such a superb location to showcase one of my holiday outfits. We certainly had a fine day to appreciate the views across this beautiful city, which I absolutely fell in love with.

Dorothy Perkins Petite Jeans, Boden Petite Shirt, New Look Trilby Hat | Petite Silver Vixen

You may have heard the rhyming phrase that runs along the lines of

'Red and green should never be seen, except upon an Irish Queen.'

which always seemed a little daft to me because

a) red and green are complementary colours so they do go together,
b) think about it ... red flowers, green stems, anyone??????
c) we'd have to cancel Christmas otherwise because they are THE Christmas colours and
d) I'm not Irish or a Queen!

All in all, it's a no brainer to pair these colours and my abstract print shirt in shades or red, blue and green makes the perfect linking piece for the green tee and red skinny jeans.

The boon of owning a classic shirt where the cut is a perfect fit for your frame, 
is its versatility.

But ah, Petite Vix, surely a patterned shirt isn't as versatile as the crisp white shirt that every uber fashionista blogger seems to have in their wardrobe or that every fashion editor seems to recommend buying?  

Well, this is the third time I've worn this classic shirt from Boden on the blog; my cost per wear is proving what a wise investment it was. I wore it in my Double Denim post and in my Subtle Pattern Mixing post.  In fact, I've worn it way more than 3 times in real life and so far, I can report it washes well and holds its shape after a quick iron.

Dorothy Perkins Petite Jeans, Boden Petite Shirt, New Look Trilby Hat | Petite Silver Vixen

Dorothy Perkins Petite Jeans, Boden Petite Shirt, New Look Trilby Hat | Petite Silver Vixen

Dorothy Perkins Petite Jeans, Boden Petite Shirt, New Look Trilby Hat | Petite Silver Vixen

Boden Petite Abstract Pattern Shirt | Petite Silver Vixen

This time though, the shirt shone in its own right, rather than under a coat or a cardigan as in the previous two blog appearances.  Our first day in Copenhagen was a perfect late Spring day, gloriously bright and sunny; the kind where there's no need for a jacket but you want a light layer.

When out sightseeing all day, a cotton shirt is the ideal light layer when a cardigan would be too warm.

Plus here, it protects my arms and neck from the sun on a noon day boat trip, Tall Brown Fox and I did around the waterways, canals, islands and harbour that make up this wonderful coastal, capital city.

HELLO!   I'm on me hols!  


Dorothy Perkins Petite Jeans, Boden Petite Shirt, New Look Trilby Hat | Petite Silver Vixen

On holiday, I want to be relaxed, comfortable and casual but without being so casual that I stick out like a sore tourist thumb, who's left their sense of style forlornly at home!

- A trilby straw hat suits a Spring / Summer city break holiday more than a floppy sun hat would and is more stylish than the ubiquitous baseball cap I see many a tourist wear back in London.

- Metallic accessories of bag and shoes are easy finishing touches.  They go with so many clothes and colours (as shown here and here), which is exactly what you need when dealing with luggage allowances.

Dorothy Perkins Petite Jeans, Boden Petite Shirt, New Look Trilby Hat | Petite Silver Vixen

Dorothy Perkins Petite Jeans, Boden Petite Shirt, New Look Trilby Hat | Petite Silver Vixen

Dorothy Perkins Petite Jeans, Boden Petite Shirt, New Look Trilby Hat | Petite Silver Vixen

And yes it's fine to mix your metallics!

Dorothy Perkins Petite Jeans, Boden Petite Shirt, Accessorize Metallic Bag | Petite Silver Vixen

Dorothy Perkins Skinny Jeans (old)
Boden Petite Classic Blue Red Floral Spot Shirt  Available in regular & petite
Warehouse t-shirt SS15  This season's t-shirt
New Look Trilby Hat & Necklace (SS15)  Tassel Trim Trilby Straw Hat or Pom Pom Metallic Trilby Hat both currently in the sale.
Accessorize Metallic Blush Bag SS16 but sold out online.  Bronze Shimmer Snake Cross Body bag or Metallic Silver Saddle Bag
Bonobo (French brand) Mock Croc Slip on  Vans Silver Slip On or Vans Sneakers

Abstract Shirt Footnote

Sightseeing is hard work, I'm tellin' ya!  A pit stop was required for some refuelling, especially if you've conquered the dizzy heights of a tower taller than Tall Brown Fox and if you've opted to carry the shared lightweight, day back pack that day.

As it was our first day of the holiday, I went all out and shamelessly had 3 - gasp - THREE scoops; chocolate, pistachio and raspberry sorbet!

Who cares about calories when you're on holiday, it's your birthday week and the local ice cream tastes this delicious?  Not me, that's for sure!

Dorothy Perkins Petite Jeans, Boden Petite Shirt, | Petite Silver Vixen eating ice cream

What's your favourite ice cream?  And where has been your favourite City break holiday?

Here's some background about my year long Seasonal Skinny Style Challenge.

Linking with  High Latitude Style / Fashion Should Be Fun / Fabulous Friday /  Flashback Friday

Blog News & Links à la Mode: 16th June

Some of you must have been wondering where I've been, as it's all been rather quiet on the old blog front the last couple of months and I've barely commented on all the lovely and wonderful blogs that I normally follow.

Well, my family has been hit with some rather sad but not totally unexpected news.

About 6 weeks ago, my Dad went into hospital not feeling well.  After multiple tests including a camera being put down his throat, we learned that he has a 5" cancerous tumour in his oesophagus and stomach.

It's inoperable and chemotheraphy or radiotherapy aren't options; their side effects far outweigh any short term benefits.

His oncologist said 
'You're looking at months, rather than years.'

It's the reason why I've not really blogged much, understandably.

We hope he'll make his and Mum's 56th wedding anniversary in August.  We're not so sure about his 85th birthday in November. 

Today on Father's Day my siblings and I celebrated the day with my parents, sitting in the garden and we all toasted him with fizz and good food.  He laughed as he watched me win at Twister against Tall Brown Fox, one of my nieces and his weekend carer.  All that Pilates training was finally put to good use!

Tall Brown Fox and I were able to go away on our planned holiday last month thankfully.  My Mum was very adamant about that!  To be honest I wanted time away from blogging.  I'm still wrestling with whether to continue blogging as with everything going on, my blogging schedule will be erratic to say the least!

For now though, I've decided that even if it's erratic, I'll still blog.  Posts may well be few and far between, so I hope you'll bear with me.  If nothing else, it will be a welcomed distraction from making sure the last few months of Dad's life will be as comfortable as possible, whilst I and the rest of my family support my Mum through the next inevitable painful steps.


Anyway, let us move onto some better news, shall we?  

Thanks to Lisa at Independent Fashion Bloggers; I was one of the 20 articles chosen for their weekly round up - Links à la Mode.  It's always a boost to be picked, especially this week in the light of the sad news about my Dad and feeling somewhat demotivated to blog.

I've always loved fabrics and thought it about time I did a post on Styling Fabrics.  I included some of my favourite ones such as chambray, denim and suede.  The outfit also evolved to have a hint of the 1920's about it, with a black devoré kimono, long beaded necklace and shot silk, bamboo handle bag.

Onto the links...

If you're a crafty type person, you'll love the DIY tutorial on turning a pair of sandals into a pom pom delight from Sparklin' Serendipity.

I really enjoyed mis papelicos's article on indestructible fashion with wonderful photos from the 1940s including one of her Mum!

All links are below, so why not dive in and discover some new blogs!

Lisa Walker writes: I thought it was truly remarkable that IFB Bloggers captured Summer in all five senses this week – see, hear, touch, smell, taste. Wearing midi length skirts, paisley prints, bohemian-chic looks, bright cheery colours, and tried and true chambray. Watching movies and scanning the Tony Awards for the best looks. Reading about a Summer spent on the French Riviera. Creating a vision of pom-pom delight. Listening to music that you can dance the night away with. And cooking food to be savoured with friends.
Cheers to having an ideal Summer.
Links à la Mode, June 16
SPONSOR: Shopbop Lisa Marie Fernandez, SUNDRY Tops, Salvatore Ferragamo Bags, Chloe Oliver, PARTYSKIRTS, Shaffer, Cutoff Shorts, Hats, Flip Flops, Men's Oakley

Styling Fabrics: Denim, Devoré, Chambray, Suede, Silk, Embroidery | Fringe Kimono | Black & Blue

Is it important to you how clothes feel against your skin?

Do certain fabrics feel so good, you don't want to take them off, yet others, as soon as you start to put them on, make you either break out into a sweat or turn you into an irritable beast?

How clothes feel against my skin is very important to me.  Anything that feels synthetic, non-breathable or scratchy isn't going to make it into my wardrobe, however wonderful a garment it may be.  When buying clothes, if I spot something I like, I have to feel the material and that decides if I try it on.  It's why buying on line for someone who's so strongly kinesthetic is a minefield.

The good news is that there are many textiles I adore wearing because they feel good against my skin - cotton, linen, velvet, embroidery anglaise. And I'll stop there because otherwise this post will end up being a shopping list of materials!  Suffice to say, I wanted to do a post where the focus was pairing some of my favourite fabrics.

Instead of pattern mixing, I'm fabric mixing.

Pattern mixing is sooo passé, don't you know.  Mixing fabrics is where it's at!

It's unbelievable how much poor quality fabric is used in clothing and it's not just limited to fast fashion, although they are the biggest culprits.  As I continue my journey through the menopause, coupled with suffering from mild ezcema, it's becoming even more vital that clothes feel like a comfortable second skin.  I want to put them on, and then be almost unaware of them against my body, because either they're so soft or they don't make me feel like I'm inside a sauna on the hottest day of the year. Yes polyester, I'm talking about you!

The colour palette may be primarily two tone, but I'm generously giving you 5 - yes count 'em FIVE very specific and different textures.   We've

the softness of chambray,
the smoothness of faux suede,
the weave and sheen of shot silk,
the striking, semi-transparent pattern of devoré,
the weight and weave of denim.

We're positively luxuriating in textural heaven.

I'm almost but not quite doing double denim here with the top and the sandals.  Denim and chambray are more cousins than siblings.  I always thought they were the same material with chambray just being a lighter version of denim but no, my friends. A little research and I learned.

Denim is a twill wool fabric, woven diagonally, 
whilst chambray is a plain weave fabric with criss-cross weaving.

So if ever the question 'what is the difference between denim and chambray?' comes up in a pub quiz, you'll know the answer!

Kimonos were a huge trend last summer.  You couldn't walk out of your front door without bumping into three.  And yes, I did a post on a blue kimono I bought last summer after trying on and rejecting numerous kimonos.  This black one was so ridiculously cheap in the sale at the end of last summer, I wasn't going to pass up the chance to buy another.

For summer days they are a great cover up and a free flowing alternative to a cardigan. I could wear this kimono with jeans till the cows come home yet the gorgeous swirling pattern of the devoré deserved a more than just jeans, so I kept the denim to only the sandals.

I'm not usually one for too much fringing, especially on sleeves which so many kimonos have.  To be frank, it drives me NUTS when it's on the sleeves.

Am I the only one that catches them on everything?  I mean door handles, buttons, jewellery and don't even get me started on said fringing dripping into food at meal times!  

This kimono passed the test because it's fringe free on the sleeve!

The upside of fringing is, of course, the satisfying swishing whenever there's a light breeze or bodily movement.

The essence of a bygone era

Kimonos always have the essence of a bygone era to me so I instinctively put on this long beaded necklace I bought last year on holiday in France.  I foolishly tried a couple of other necklaces with the outfit but I was inextricably drawn back to this long beaded one.

Each time, small voice of reason said with increasing frustration;

'Oh stop with all this necklace malarkey and stick with your first choice!  You're wearing a fringe kimono, you're holding a silk embroidered bag; for heavens sake embrace the undercurrent of the 1920's here.'

And who am I to ignore such reasoning?   Japonisme was a huge trend in 1920's fashion - think flapper girls in silks and chiffons. Remember Carrie Mulligan's striking black and white kimono in The Great Gatsby?  A stunning creation, but I don't fancy her chances with the soup at dinner with those sleeves!

Japonisme was a natural progression from Orientalism.  In the Edwardian era, pre WW1 fashion, art and culture was heavily influence by Orientalism.

Afterwards, I did toy with the idea that maybe I should've worn a scarf in my hair but on reflection that would've over played things, turning the outfit into the beginnings of a costume.  If I was wearing wide linen trousers or palazzo pants then maybe.

The focus here is the fabric; the 20's feel is merely a happy accident.  The trio of kimono, necklace and shot silk bag, just subtly acknowledges an essence of that era, whilst the overall look remains contemporary.

Kew Chambray top from TKMaxx  Ben de Lisi Denim Top
Dorothy Perkins Kimono SS15  Black Devoré Kimono or a Black Crochet Trim Kimono
Wallis Faux Suede Skirt AW16
Steve Madden Cobalt Blue Faux Suede Belt
Beaded Necklace from a shop in France
Embroidered Silk Handbag (ancient)
Fat Face set of bracelets
Embellished Heel Denim Sandals still available in size 3.  I also love these Denim Wedges, sadly not available in size 3 which is probably good a thing for me!  Prefer a t-bar?  Then Clarks Denim Sandals will suit you to a tee!

Styling Fabrics Footnote

Outfit inspiration can come from many places - past decades and eras, art, literature, nature, patterns, colours, or shapes. Playing with different styles of fabrics gives you another creative and fun angle with which to build outfits.  

I deliberately chose soft and smooth textures for this outfit but why not mix heavier fabrics with lighter, delicate ones such as velvet and lace or tweed with silk?

What fabrics do you like to mix together?  I'd love to know.

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