Fashion: Get waisted
Fashion Editor Bairbre Power buckles up and explores the defining powers of a great belt
Belts are so often the poor relation of the accessories chest. Each season we are seduced by the spectacle and drama of the latest cool shoe, the must-have bag and wow factor statement necklaces. We crave designer sunglasses to add intrigue and are smitten by contemporary jewellery that makes us look wealthier than we are.
But never forget the humble belt with its incredible cinch factor.
Chunky or thin, obi or cummerbund, buckle or bow, a well-chosen, well-placed belt possesses the power to flatter and conceal. Even if you already have a narrow waist, adding a belt and defining your waist can make you look even slimmer.
You don't keep hour-glass figures for life. Curves become less defined with age and waists get wider so cinch-in belts take on a whole new importance.
Belts are VBFs for the curvy girl who wants to enhance her hourglass credentials, but her pencil- thin pal can also befriend them in order to create the illusion of curves and an enhanced bustline.
This weekend we explore how a simple scarf and obi belt combo can transform your basic weekend wardrobe of white tank top and jeans tucked into boots.
We went the glamorous route with a fabulous velvet scarf and the trick here was to work a tone-on- tone story with an obi belt a shape deeper. The two together create a very luxe look and it's hard to believe they cost only €39 each at Fran & Jane on Main Street, Blackrock, Co Dublin. Skip forward six months and create this look in the summer with a lightweight linen slub scarf cinched with a tan suede obi or mahogany leather belt.
Park concerns about having no shape in winter woollies. You can hibernate under layers but still define your silhouette. I chose a stranded leather obi with long, narrow ties which tie nicely into a bow over a lightweight knit poncho.
The tone on tone approach is good for petite frames because the last thing they want is a belt in a strong contrasting colour that effectively cuts them in half. However, if you want to work a contrasting colour, keep it narrow and belts with an unobtrusive small metal buckle are very in at the moment.
Personally, I love doubling up narrow leather belts and their ‘big sister' belts to cinch in a winter coat. Think leather on navy, black or brown wool, or warm mahogany leather on a khaki coat, such as this slimline, three-pocket coat by the genius British designer, Margaret Howell, whose pared back aesthetic is deliciously minimalist and classical.
Funny how we adore the experience of cinching in a belted trenchcoat, but the rest of the time, we let our coats go unbelted.
The obi has found favour in the West after centuries of being a core part of the style armour of Japanese men and women. Suede obi belts continue to be a best-seller for Irish designer Mary Grant, but if you want to take the corset truly out of their boudoir, Mary has a butter soft leather version which is ideal for a female with a long torso who wants to showcase it over the coming months.
Meanwhile, couture queen Miuccia Prada knows only too well how important cinched-in waists are to feminine fashion, which is probably why she has just launched a new belt service where customers can create the perfect piece to suit their shape.
Left to right above:
1. Pink poncho-style knit, €99, grey seamed cummerbund, €39, both from Fran & Jane at Main Street, Blackrock; boots, €169, O’Dwyers Footwear at Goods, High Street, Kilkenny.
2. Mary Grant black lace top, reduced to €152, navy tulle dress with tuck details, reduced to €260, black suede obi belt, €65, available from Brown Thomas and Mary Grant, Cutlery Road, Newbridge, Co Kildare; black suede boots with gold zip up the back, €249, Fitzpatrick’s, Grafton Street, Dublin
3. Velvet scarf, reduced to €39, leather cummerbund, €39, both from Fran & Jane at Main Street, Blackrock, Co Dublin; jeans, model’s own; tan boots, €205, Pauls, High Street, Kilkenny
4. Cream dress, €300, Lennon Courtney; black narrow belt, €92.95, long gloves, €499, bag, €475, both from Paula Rowan, Westbury Mall, paularowan.com; black suede ankle boots with Swarovski crystals, €349, Fitzpatrick’s, Grafton Street, Dublin
5. Lichen city coat, reduced to €680, narrow leather belt, €205, wide leather belt, €245, dark brown waxed leather military boot, reduced to €580, all by Margaret Howell, available from 99b Rathgar Road, Dublin 6
Photography: Emily Quinn, emilyquinn.com
Stylist: Bairbre Power, @bairbrepower, assisted by Julianne Galvin
Make-up and hair: Karen Fitzpatrick
Model: Karen, Assets Model Agency