Culottes vs Gauchos

7 Jan

Culottes: There are several defintions for culottes, but they are basically all the same. They are described as: women’s trousers, usually knee length or calf length. They have a full cut to resemble a skirt. Culottes are garment that hangs like a skirt, but is actually pants. Also described as a split or divided skirt or any garment which hangs like a skirt, but is actually pants. During the Victorian Era (mid-to late-19th century), long split skirts were developed for horseback riding. Later, to provide women more freedom to do activities such as gardening, cleaning, bike riding, etc. and still look like she was wearing a skirt.


Gauchos: A wide, calf-length trousers modeled after the trousers worn by South American gauchos (cowboys). They usually have a high waist cut and loosely tapers from the thigh until a few inches below the knee. These have been in fashion since the 1950s when women wanted a little more room for their legs while maintaining some sense of style.


So, I use both terms. I remember when I was a little girl, what we wore were called gauchos. I currently own both so when I post them, I may use the names interchangeably. I actually have several pairs that I would consider to be gauchos. Most are vintage since that was the time when they were so popular .They also were big in the early 2000’s to. I do have a pair Missoni culottes that I did a post on in the Summer (Sunday Best).. Sometimes it’s easy to classify one over the other, but sometimes not. Several images that I came across sometimes use the terms for either. Sometimes it’s hard to see the big difference and at other times it’s obvious, as seen in the image of the mustard color Asos culottes and then there are times when they resemble each other more. Also if you can see in the culottes pics, sometimes they just look like oversized, wide leg pants which sometimes are known as palazzo pants. Semantics! So in conclusion, culottes look more like a skirt, it’s only when you separate your legs that you realize they are not a skirt. Whereas gauchos, are more of a cropped pant, sometimes wide leg shorts, if they are the shorter version. All in all I think they are very versatile. They can be dressed up or down depending on the top you choose to wear with them and the footwear. I prefer to wear a heel of some type, preferably a wedge or chunkier shoe or boot to balance out the fullness of them, it just depends on the fit and length mostly. You just need to try out several shoes to see which ones work at that time. You also want to be aware that the fullness of both can make you appear heavier. You will also want to watch the length because the ones meant to hit mid calf or around the knee might not work if you’re vertically challenged. You could end up looking shorter and wider. So because of the fullness, you would want to keep your  more on the fitted side to balance out the fullness. So there you have it! In case you were wondering about the difference between culottes and gauchos was, there it is! Or if you don’t really care, there it is anyway. You never know, you may need to know that if you are ever on Jeopardy or something! 🙂



8 Responses to “Culottes vs Gauchos”

  1. MLCarter October 19, 2012 at 17:57 #

    This was just what I was looking for to settle a fun fashion dispute! Thank you.

  2. christi~j photography April 25, 2014 at 10:32 #

    I saw these on a lady last weekend at an art museum and just had to find out what they were called so I can go searching for them!! Thanks so much for the awesome blog! Now following!!

    • 1ststatestyle April 27, 2014 at 19:16 #

      Thank you! They are such timeless piece that I remember my mom putting us in when we were young. I feel like they never go out of style. It’s just all in how you style them. Thanks for becoming a new follower!

  3. Arlene October 14, 2015 at 00:51 #

    They’re really back this fall season.


  1. Culotte Comeback | undeniable style - April 3, 2013

    […] check out this cute post on the history of palazzo pants. In my mind there’s a debate on whether to be a culotte you have to be mid-calf or knee […]

  2. Graphic Culottes - Right Where I Left Off - March 26, 2015

    […] general summary of the different types of culottes in hisotry. They are not to be misidentified as gauchos […]

  3. Spring Fashion Trends 2015 | BLUE DIAMOND DENTAL BLOG - April 21, 2015

    […] seasons. Culottes are basically a “pair of pants that hang like a skirt”. Check out this blog post for a better understanding of culottes. They come in different lengths and can be worn by any size […]

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