Who wears the trousers? That was the perennial and political question thrown up at the 51st Wimbledon Championship in 1931 when Elsa Schiaparelli dressed tennis champion Lili Alvarez in a pair of culottes. The bold choice ignited the press, which condemned Alvarez and set the tone for the divisive reception of the pants.
Dating back to the 1500s, when they were the exclusive domain of French aristocratic men, it wasn’t until the Victorian era that the ‘divided skirt’ became available to everyone. To resolve the quandary of riding bicycles and horses, women too adopted the silhouette, thereby associating culottes with liberty, practicality and style.
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