There’s a maxim you’ll often hear fashion editors use: Dress for the body. Which is basically just code for ‘get your proportions right’. Blazers are the mainstay of many a style-inclined woman’s wardrobe, but they run the risk of being overly boxy or shapeless. Knitted dresses are chic trans seasonal mainstays, but can stray into ‘formless’ territory. Men’s shirting is the epitome of effortless androgyny, but can overwhelm delicate frames. The answer? It’s a cinch, darling—wear a belt.
Belting at the waist to create a more tapered silhouette is among the most simple and effective styling tricks you can add to your arsenal. Imagine if Carrie Bradshaw’s iconic oversized shirt-as-dress look wasn’t cinched with a brown leather Hermès belt? Or if the polka dot dress in Pretty Woman hung like a shapeless burlap sack? Princess Diana, Jackie Kennedy, and Jane Birkin are among the timeless style icons who loved belts. “Belts distract the eye from a whole manner of sins,” said British supermodel Twiggy. “They can be a superb way to update your wardrobe without breaking the bank, and there’s no reason to stop wearing them, ever!”
The time to invest has never been better. We’re currently seeing a resurgence of belting on the runway too. At Zimmermann’s autumn winter ‘21 show, the brand’s signature printed dresses were pulled in at the waist with bold statement belts. It was the same deal at Virginie Viard’s much-lauded Metiers D’Art collection for Chanel, where fuzzy shearling bomber jackets were cinched with interlocking ‘C’ logo belts, and the brand’s iconic tweed blazers were pulled in with a delicate string of pearls. And at Maria Grazia Chiuri’s pre-fall collection for Dior, where bold neon gowns were rendered thoroughly modern with the addition of thin black belts at the waist.
Tempted to try the trend for yourself? Experimentation is pleasantly simple. Reach for reliable favourites like Sandro for a simple ribbed day dress (we recommend an on-trend shade of rust), then zhush the whole look up with a delicate chain belt—switching lace-up brown leather sandals for chunky black lace-up boots once the weather turns. For work, opt for a sophisticated, high-necked option from a brand like the Kate Middleton-approved Reiss, then give the look a modern edge with pop-of-colour accessories. Belts are particularly useful companions when it comes to winter layering—throw a woollen poncho over your favourite roll-neck, then craft a silhouette by belting at the centre.
There are few fashion investments that offer the versatility of a good belt—be it a simple and refined number in black or brown leather, or an unapologetically bold creation with statement bows, oversized buckles, or studs. With options available from high street (Zara and Witchery are always safe bets) to high-end (Moncler’s ruched leather creations are particularly chic)—the time is nigh to make the plunge.
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