Wide leg culotte shorts are the trendy summer staple you need in your wardrobe this season. Defined by their voluminous, wide legs and high waisted silhouette, culotte shorts are breezy, lightweight, and keep you looking polished while staying cool.
The flowing, feminine shorts are designed to billow out from the waist or hips before tapering loosely down the thighs. This creates a flattering, figure-complementing shape that provides coverage while still beating the heat. The high waist hits at your natural waistline for a retro-inspired look that pairs well with cropped and tucked-in tops.
Culottes manage to straddle the line between bohemian relaxation and tailored refinement perfectly. Their palazzo-style legs evoke a chic vintage vibe while their high waist and versatile styling keeps them looking modern and on-trend.
In this complete guide to culotte shorts, we’ll cover everything from the top recommended styles to shop this season to expert tips on how to choose the most flattering fits and rises for your frame. You’ll learn the best tops, shoes, and accessories to wear to take your culottes from day to night seamlessly. Let’s dive in!
The Top 5 Wide Leg Culotte Shorts for Summer
From polished linen blends to soft chambray and denim, here are five wide leg culotte shorts that will keep you looking and feeling fabulous all season long:
1. Lightweight Chambray Culotte Shorts
Crafted from 100% breathable cotton in a lightweight chambray fabric, these culotte shorts are as comfortable as they are cute. The denim-inspired wash is casual yet polished, pairing well with tanks, tees, and blouses. The relaxed legs billow out while the elastic waistband ensures customized fit. Hitting mid-thigh, they keep you covered while still beating the heat. Easy to dress up or down, these chambray culottes are sure to become a wardrobe staple.
2. High Waisted Linen Blend Culotte Shorts
Elevate your summer style with these refined high waisted culotte shorts blended from linen and rayon. The lightweight linen fabric will keep you cool and comfortable with its inherent breathability. Designed to hit below the knee in an elegant midi length, the shorts showcase front pleating that adds dimension. The high waist is universally flattering and looks gorgeous paired with tucked in tops. Whether you’re headed to a garden party or out to brunch, these linen shorts deliver sophistication.
3. Stretchy Knit Culotte Shorts
Made from a soft, stretchy knit fabric, these knit culotte shorts combine the comfort of your favorite leggings with an of-the-moment silhouette. The elastic waistband ensures a perfect fit and moves with you while the mini length shows off just enough leg. Side pockets add function while the stretch material maintains shape but feels like you’re wearing your comfiest lounge shorts. Effortlessly stylish, these knit shorts transition seamlessly from day to night.
4. Polka Dot Culotte Shorts
Incorporating big, bold polka dots, these culotte shorts make a playful statement. The allover dot print is eye-catching and fun while the relaxed smocked waistband creates definition through the hips for a flattering effect. Hitting in a modest midi length just below the knee, the shorts feel retro and feminine. Dress them down with sneakers or up with wedges and jewelry for date night—the options are endless with this versatile print.
5. Classic Denim Culotte Shorts
Crafted from durable denim, these shorts riff on traditional jeans with a wider leg, shorts silhouette perfect for summer. The shorts button and zip to close securely while front and back pockets add function. The frayed hem lends an effortlessly cool, laidback vibe while the dark indigo wash dresses them up just enough. Pair with graphic tees, tanks or polos for casual warm weather style ideal for everything from beach days to barbecues.
How to Choose Flattering Wide Leg Culotte Shorts
With so many styles of culotte shorts available, it can be tricky to narrow down what rises, lengths, fits and fabrics will be most flattering for your frame. Here are some top tips for choosing wide leg culotte shorts that accentuate your figure:
Culotte shorts come in varying lengths for different aesthetics. Mini lengths hitting mid-thigh are youthful and playful. Midi lengths falling below the knee exude elegance. Ankle grazing full length culottes are versatile and on-trend. Consider your height and proportions—a taller frame can pull off longer lengths while petite frames may want to avoid styles that cut too low on the thigh or overwhelm the physique.
High rise culotte shorts that hit at your natural waistline are universally flattering and elongate the torso. Mid and low rise shorts work for some body types but can be less than ideal. A high waist is best for balancing the volume of the wide legs. It cinchnes the narrowest part of your waist to optimize proportions.
The fabric of culotte shorts affects the vibe, durability and flow. Lightweight, draped fabrics like chiffon and linen billow beautifully with movement. Stretchy knits and soft denim mold to the body providing flexible comfort. Crisp poplin and canvas cottons hold their structure well. Light fabrics keep you cool in warmer weather.
Pattern & Wash
Dark denim washes and black, navy or khaki culottes are inherently slimming and flattering go-tos. Lighter washes and softer hues like cream or blush can elongate the legs. Smaller scale prints and patterns add visual interest without contributing too much bulk. Be mindful of oversized plaids, florals and boho prints that can overwhelm a petite frame when paired with voluminous legs.
The ideal culotte shorts fit is relaxed through the hips and thighs to enable the signature wide leg shape. However, shorts that are overly loose and oversized can feel frumpy. Look for styles with a comfortable flow that still nip in at the waist or hips with elastic, tailored waistbands or belting to provide balance and proportion. Take care not to drown a petite frame in excess fabric—tailored short styles often work best.
Proportion is key for balance. Avoid lengths that cut too high or too low on your thighs. The most universally flattering length hits at the fullest part of your thighs to maintain balance with the width of the legs. Cropped styles ending above the knee likewise paired well with taller, long legged frames. Play with different lengths to see what flatters your height and physique best.
Tips for Wearing Wide Leg Culotte Shorts
Once you’ve found the perfect pair of culotte shorts for your frame, it’s time for the fun part—styling them! Here are top ways to wear wide leg culotte shorts for classy, polished summer style:
With Tucked-In Tops
Tucking in blouses, tanks and slim fitting t-shirts helps define shape and balance the volume of culotte shorts. This creates a streamlined silhouette that’s endlessly chic. Crop tops and fitted bodysuits also look amazing tucked into the high waist shorts. Tailored, sleeved blouses with a front tuck elevate the look while tanks keep it casual.
With Untucked, Flowy Tops
Light and billowy button-downs, boho peasant tops and tunics complement the relaxed vibe of the shorts when worn untucked. Avoid looking sloppy or drowning your frame by tucking just the front corners into the waistband to tailor the silhouette. Linen, chiffon and crepe tops enhance the breezy effect.
With Tanks & Camis
An easy way to wear culotte shorts is with classic tanks and camisoles which exude effortless French style. Opt for slim, simple tanks to balance the volume on bottom—bonus points if you add delicate jewelry for contrast. Silky camisoles add fluid femininity, especially in black, white, gray and pastels.
With Cropped Tops
Cropped tops are a flirty, on-trend pairing that shows some skin and gives shape to the lower half. Contrast a crisp boxy crop top with the softness of culottes for a playful balance. Leave a few inches of midriff bare or just skim the waistline—anything goes! Feel free to go dressy or casual with your cropped tops.
Cinched With Belts
Cinch your culottes at the natural waist or hips with a belt for instant polish. Skinny belts, braided belts, chain belts and corset belts all work beautifully. A belt not only defines the waist, but enhances the proportions of the wide legs in contrast. Both loose blouses and fitted tops can be belted over or tucked into shorts.
With Wedges or Heels
Opt for wedges or heeled sandals to elongate legs which helps balance the fullness of culotte shorts. Espadrilles, strappy sandals and classic pumps all complement the shorts’ dressier side. Low or mid height heels work for day to night wear while stilettos make culottes red carpet ready!
With White Sneakers
White sneakers add a sporty, casual vibe that works perfectly with culottes’ inherently relaxed style. The crisp white pops against darker shorts or adds a light contrast to soft pastel shades. Lace-ups like Keds or minimalist leather sneakers work well. Great for daytime activities and keeping looks grounded.
With Flat Sandals
From classic thong sandals to leather slides, flat sandals are easy, versatile pairings for culotte shorts in warm weather. Strappy gladiator sandals or braided leather flats incorporate natural textures. Flat footwear keeps pressure off your feet during all-day wear.
With Kimonos or Cardigans
Light layers like kimonos, dusters and open cardigans provide coverage while complementing culottes’ flowy vibe. Drapey chiffon kimonos or crochet dusters enhance the boho aesthetic. A longline knit cardigan keeps things polished. Layer light scarves too!
With Sun Hats
Big brimmed floppy sun hats or wide brim fedoras lend an elegant vintage vibe to culotte shorts. Baseball caps, panama hats and bucket hats provide sun protection with a more casual attitude. Let hats do the accessorizing to keep looks uncomplicated and chic.
Top 5 FAQs About How to Wear Wide Leg Culotte Shorts
1. What tops pair best with culotte shorts?
Cropped, tucked in, and close fitting tops help balance the full volume of the shorts’ wide legs. Flowy peasant blouses or tunics can also work when strategically tucked at the waist. Focus on balancing proportions and creating shape through the torso. Avoid boxy tops that hide your figure.
2. How do you prevent wide leg shorts from looking frumpy?
Stick to designated lengths like mini, midi or ankle grazing rather than anything too long or short. Pair with more fitted tops and blouses versus oversized. Add height with heeled wedges or sandals. Cinch shorts at the waist to define shape. Most importantly, don’t drown a petite frame in excess fabric. Tailor sizing so the shorts don’t overwhelm.
3. What shoes work best with wide leg shorts?
Heels and wedges visually elongate the legs, creating balance against the shorts’ volume. Flat sandals are versatile and comfortable go-tos for warm weather wear. Clean white sneakers add casual flair. Avoid bulky block heels or oversized footwear that contributes more bulk.
4. Are culotte shorts flattering for all body types?
Generally yes! The high waisted silhouette suits many figures. Finding the right short length and rise for your height is key though. Culottes can overwhelm petite frames so tailor the proportions. The relaxed fit forgives while darker washes and patterns are inherently slimming. With the right styling, these shorts flatter a range of shapes.
5. Are wide leg shorts still in style for 2022?
Absolutely! The voluminous, breezy culotte silhouette remains on trend in women’s fashion. The shorts are beloved for move-with-you comfort while still feeling feminine and chic. Their relaxed yet polished aesthetic also transitions effortlessly from day to night style. For nearly any occasion, culotte shorts are a timelessly chic warm weather staple to reach for all season long.
Defined by their wide, flowing legs and high waisted design, culotte shorts are the flattering summer staple you’ll want to live in. Not only do they keep you cool and comfortable, but their elegant silhouette dresses up any warm weather look.
With tips on choosing lengths, rises and fabrics to suit your frame, you’re ready to shop the most stylish culotte shorts that complement your figure. From casual days paired with tanks and sneakers to nights out with crop tops and heels, culotte shorts go from day to play seamlessly. Their versatility cements their place in summer wardrobes worldwide.
Flattering most body types, these retro-inspired shorts with modern style provide coverage while still beating the heat. So embrace the breezy comfort and chic sophistication of wide leg culotte shorts this season! You’ll never look back at regular shorts again.