After years of languishing in the style wilderness, culottes are taking wide-legged strides towards a fashion comeback.
Culottes dominated the recent autumn/winter fashion shows, with brands including Chloe, Acne, Alexander Wang and Hermes embracing the cropped, voluminous trousers.
For many, they bring back memories of bad moments in childhood fashion or recollections of 1970s and '80s style statements they would rather forget having made.
But the good news is that this time around the airy trousers that sit somewhere between a skirt and a pair of shorts are surprisingly flattering and versatile.
"I'm crazy for culottes," said Neiman Marcus fashion director Ken Downing. "They are the trousers of the season."
Crisply pleated and cuffed for the office, teamed with a silk blouse and heels for evening or worn with an oversize jumper and brogues for the weekend, the culotte will prove a fresh, versatile addition to winter wardrobes.
"Culottes look fantastic as a modern outfit to wear into the office with a jacket, but you can also wear them with a casual T-shirt and flat shoes for the weekend," said Melanie Remai, general manager of creative at Saba.
"We are delivering culottes this month because we really believe they are the new pant shape of the season."
For Tome designer Ryan Lobo the culotte is a feminist as well as a fashion statement.
"They look like a skirt but they act like a trouser so they conform to the feminist maxim about ease and functionality," said Lobo.
"They are also an everywoman piece because they can accommodate many shapes, sizes and heights."
Lobo's label has created culottes since its first collection; this season includes versions of the airy trousers in plum, black and pale pink.
Alpha60 designer Georgie Cleary is also a big fan.
"A culotte is elegant but you can still ride a bike," said Cleary. "It's a garment for the modern, active woman."
But will the culotte truly take off down under, where women like to show a little more leg and skin than their European counterparts?
"We are also doing skorts, which are a cross between a skirt and a short," said Lobo. "They are basically a culotte cut off above the knee, so we have all bases covered."
- Sydney Morning Herald
What's the most stylish age for women?Related story: (See story)