Fashion: Do the sharp short crop

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Don’t be afraid to try this summer’s culottes and crops. Stephanie Smith has tips on getting the look right.

It’s another fashion fad that men, apparently, just don’t get.

Culottes are back in a big way, across all the trends for this spring and summer, from worked whites through to haute hippy boho, from smartly tailored and structured looks through to fluid and billowing on the breeze examples of the culotte and wide-leg cropped trouser genres.

Many women also are not sure or comfortable about the whole idea of culottes, fearing that they can verge on the comical, if not carefully administered. It’s true, the length, fit and degree of wide leg or flare do all have to be experimented with but, if they work, the result can be very stylish indeed, so it’s worth the effort.

The catwalks for spring and summer brought with them an intriguing new take on trousers, in particular fluid tailoring with wider, looser legs and, crucially, a much shorter length, from mid calf to floating just above the ankle. Most have pegs or darts at the tummy too, which can make them bulky-looking to wear with loose tops over, unless you’re a six foot size six model, in which case, it’s really not an issue.

The same darting from the waist applies to many of the shorter culotte styles too, most of which come to just below the knee, so if you are concerned with the tummy area, it might be an idea to look out for ones that are flat fronted (especially with a same fabric tie belt to fasten with a flat knot loosely over the tummy).

Just-below-the-knee culottes are perfect for work and smart outfits if you look for loose but neat tailoring in a rich colour, such as orange-brown, or go for black ones and team with a sleek, preferably sleeveless top (a crew-neck light cashmere jumper in a bold single colour would be perfect). Smart, flat slip-ons would be good as footwear, but we can’t all do flats so try a heeled platform sandal if that’s you, although do also try the culottes or crops on with the shoe before you buy as shoe styles and heights really do affect the look of both the culottes and the legs wearing them, suddenly making them quite unflattering and awkward. You’ve been warned.