Autumn’s new look is the no-frills belt, so buckle up | Fashion

Autumn’s new look is the no-frills belt, so buckle up | Fashion

September is the January of fashion and therefore the best time to turn over a new leaf, wardrobe-wise. And this autumn’s new look is a belter.

Sorry, couldn’t resist. This season’s new look – and by new look I mean an actual real-world vibe shift that will catch your eye because well-dressed people are wearing it and wearing it well, and sooner or later one of those people will walk past you in the street or sit opposite you in the office – is the return of the belt.

My friends, it is time to pack away your just-off-to-churn-the-butter summer dresses. Time to start wearing trousers with belt loops, and with a belt. Not a corset belt or a ribbon belt or anything fancy, just an ordinary belt, with a buckle, the kind you’ve got already. This is one of those new looks that isn’t immediately obvious as being a major new fashion moment, because it is really quite normal-looking. Which is brilliant, because it makes it easy to wear, cheap to shop from within your own wardrobe, and satisfying to nail because it feels a little bit in-the-know.

This is how it works. Say you are doing jeans-with-a-going-out-top. Instead of wearing low-rise jeans with a silky T-shirt number that grazes the top of your jeans pockets, you wear a tank top or a ribbed cardigan tucked into jeans that come up to your waist, and then you add a belt. Or, if you are wearing a shirt and trousers, instead of French-tucking the front part of the shirt into your waistband, and faffing about in front of the mirror getting the rest of the shirt to hang in an effortless yet flattering line, you just tuck the shirt in, and then belt it.

In other words, the belt is the new scrunchie: the slightly retro, below-the-radar accessory which makes you look a little bit fashion in a pleasing sort of a way.

It is not a coincidence that the purpose of a belt, as well as holding your trousers up, is to give you a waist, visually speaking. Come to think of it, scratch the new-scrunchie analogy. The belt is more like the new Wonderbra, now that abs are the new boobs and a snatched waist is sexier than fulsome cleavage. Contouring is king, from top to toe. The same makeup counters that used to sell blusher to give your cheeks a rosy glow and concealer to cover the dark circles under your eyes now sell contouring palettes with deep bronzer to slim your cheeks and highlighter to narrow your nose. Lingerie, which used to be a world of lace and frills, is now all about high-end chic shapewear to knead flesh into the desired hourglass.

I have a theory about this. It seems to me that the rise of contouring, in makeup and in underwear, is how beauty and style have metabolised the rise of plastic surgery. Turn on the television, flip through a magazine or scroll your social media feeds and you will see slimmed-down noses, bee-stung upper lips, cushiony plumped cheekbones and surgically boosted bottoms. Much of the time, we don’t realise that we are looking at surgically enhanced beauty, but that doesn’t matter: our eyes adjust nonetheless, and exaggerated contours become the benchmark we are aiming for.

This is pretty weird, when you come to think about it, and possibly a bit depressing, but hey, don’t shoot the messenger. And anyway, it’s not like TikTok invented trying to make your waist look smaller, since I’m pretty sure whalebone corsets were around before the internet. By bringing back the common-or-garden belt as an outfit cincher, this season has landed on an easy, cheap, painless way to sate that craving. Sometimes the old ways are the best ways. Is the belt the new scrunchie? Or is it the new Wonderbra? Either way, it’s the new look.