WIW: Back in Black

I had a couple of hours to kill in Rotterdam last week when I had it in mind to go to a museum, but it was raining hard and I didn't get very far. Instead I ended up sheltering in one of those impossibly haute-fashion boutiques where all the clothes are black and all the decor is white. The staff must have seen me coming and recognised me as one of their own because they sprang into action as soon as I crossed the threshold. Fortunately there were several clearance rails so I was saved the embarassment of a hasty exit and I negotiated a two for one deal on a couple of pieces from my personal wishlist, a black faux-leather skirt and a pair of black culottes. 

I've been wearing much more black lately and trying to direct myself towards a more avant-garde modernism without sacrificing my arty eclectic signatures. These two pieces take me further in that direction and I think they're both going to work hard well into spring. Here are two looks with the new acquisitions, contrasted with another look in the same vein. I'm seeing the start of a mix-and-match capsule based on black statement skirts.

I'm challenging myself to balance out the unusual proportions with perennial staples and I'd like to bring their sharp modern styling into line with the softer classicism I'm used to. I'm thinking a retro vibe could work for the faux-leather skirt, with a high-contrast fitted/cropped sweater (something like #3) and creepers. I'm a bit stumped by the culottes though. They work very well with a long fluid jacket as well as the more boxy style I've used here, but I'd really like to wear them with something that gives more definition at the waist and so far nothing I've tried feels very contemporary. I think maybe I'm stuck for reference points because culottes are trending right now after years of absence.

1. Faux leather skirt by Ann-Sofie Back. I'm not usually a fan of conspicuous branding but this is done with the brand's trademark humour. I like the playful merging of the boxing and moto styling with the go-faster strip down the side. I have a few other pieces from this designer already and I like what she does. I wore this day-to-evening on Friday and got a lot of compliments. Layered with the Pitagora cardigan and booties from Topshop.

2. Gabardine culottes allegedly by Comme des Garcons. I got a good deal on these because for some reason they'd lost their tags so I can't say for sure if they're genuine. Whetever they are, the cut, material and finish are nice enough for me not to mind their murky provenance. These look to be the same design in cotton.

Worn here with a leather and wool sweatshirt I made myself, metallic leggings from the roller derby, boots by MMM and a Uniqlo HeatTech turtleneck.

3. Pleated skirt by Dries van Noten. I've had this about 10 years and it works hard every winter. If anything, this piece prompted the purchase of the other two, because I know the shape works for me an it made sense to update it now that it's back in style. Worn here with Topshop booties again and a Connie Groenewegen sweater. She’s a Dutch designer who’s doing some wonderfully innovative things with knitwear. You can’t see in the photos but it’s blue silk-mix fine knit bonded to black felted angora. It’s quite special.

Please tell me what you think, any feedback and further styling ideas are welcome. Thanks for looking!

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Aubergine replied 6 years ago

    I especially like the first and third outfits! The shape of the skirts is great on you and the blue sweater is really striking.

  • shevia replied 6 years ago

    I absolutely love those culottes. They are a whole different breed than the longer ones I have been looking at. I love how you styled them here, and I look forward to seeing them again.
    The first skirt is terrific too. I am impressed how you did the volume over volume in the first picture. 
    The Connie Groenewegen sweater is fabulous and works perfectly with that skirt, which I don't think will ever go out of style.
    I think belting and waist defining is coming up for spring, so maybe you will see more culottes with waist defining looks soon. 
    I'm happy to see you posting again!

  • Astrid replied 6 years ago

    Great culottes! I love how you're wearing them here. The third outfit is awesome too, fantastic sweater.

  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    Thanks aubergine. I'm so delighted to see the midi back in style, even though Sveta tells us the definition of midi is - eh - flexible. 

    Shevia, thanks for the tip about belts in the new season. It's complicated by an elastic waist and no carriers, but I might try belting a layer over the top. And I totally forgot to mention that when I was googling for images of culottes you appeared in my search results so take a bow! That's a lovely pair and you look fantastic - are you still wearing them?

    ETA - Hi Astrid, thanks! I sort of had you in mind when I was styling these looks, because you look so great in a full skirt.

  • lyn67 replied 6 years ago

    But they look way better in gabardine(cullottes:-)).Great edgy outfits, all! Pls. post more:-)

  • Karie replied 6 years ago

    I like the edgy vibe to your outfits, with my favorites being #2 and #5. The sweatshirt in #4 is also fantastic - the sleeves look green or citron on my computer - I sew, so I love that you made it yourself.

    When I saw that you were in Rotterdam, I thought, "Great! Someone who lives where I do!" and then I quickly realized you weren't talking about my town of Rotterdam, NY!

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Pantalons!!! That's what the culottes remind me of...they are amazing, and I agree with Lyn that they are much better in gabardine, which has some drape, vs. the cotton. What a wonderful find. You have styled them so well. Amazing sweater -- did you use reclaimed materials or do it from scratch? It's terrific. 

    Love the new skirt, too, and agree with Shevia on #1. Stunning. If you want to try "waisted" looks with the skirt, a belt of the very same width (or slightly wider) in an elastic style would work to keep things in place. Or, you could try a peplum style top, where the waist would be on the top itself but it would cover the waistband. 

    Your older skirt is equally wonderful and the sweater is gorgeous even on the screen. You have amazing and inspirational style. 

  • replied 6 years ago

    Thank you for dressing this way! Even though my own style is much more subdued, looking at these photos is almost watching performance art. It's a public service to be such a refreshing, revitalizing presence.

  • replied 6 years ago

    I'm another fan of your fab style. I enjoy the volume and proportions and different fits of all the unusual pieces you put together. The leather skirt is great and it looks gorgeous with the roomy drape knit jacket. Isn't the sweater and culotte look fab too!

  • rachylou replied 6 years ago

    Just fabulous. Your thread here caught my eye on the Wall right away. And you have such good hair. (I need to do something about my hair!) #1 is a lot of fabric, but you get it just right and it doesn't overwhelm you. What great, interesting pieces.

  • shevia replied 6 years ago

    For me culottes are warm weather friends, which is one reason I was so excited to see your cold weather styling. I also like that long black pair with a higher heel (attached a picture). I have more culottes in the wings for when it is a bit warmer too!

  • ATLynn replied 6 years ago

    I really like the avant-garde tilt to your outfits.  I'm seriously coveting that cardigan in outfit #1.  And 3 is just too cool for words. 

  • Deborah replied 6 years ago

    I am loving these outfits. Some great purchases too. The culottes, due to the length, look more like shorts to me, but very cool shorts with subtle avant garde styling. Like Shevia, I am wearing culottes in summer and enjoying volume over volume looks. I hoping with my healthy eating my wool winter culottes might fit better and come out of hibernation. Your styling is inspiring.

  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    Wow, thanks everyone for such positive feedback!

    , funny you should mention pantaloons. I felt a bit like a pioneering lady cyclist in my bloomers. Shevia, you look awesome as ever.

    Deborah, I love your style too, looking forward to seeing more of your takes on culottes.

    Isabel, what a lovely thing to say! I do indeed see it as my civic duty to dress up a bit when so few people make an effort where I live. 

    , all credit is due to my splendid hairdresser. I'm always amazed he manages to tame it so skilfully. 

    Karie, had no idea there was a Rotterdam in NY, but I hear NYC used to be called New Amsterdam, so not really a surprise!

    Diane G, lyn67, ATLynn thanks for the comments. There's plenty more where this came from ;)

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    Arty and Architectural. #6 and #4 are killer. Fun poses too. xo

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