If the crop top was the toast of last summer, looks like the focus on the waist will continue this year too. And tummy tuck and belt up seem to be the mantra. Internationally, designers such as Dolce & Gabbana, Vivienne Westwood and labels such as Armani and Burberry brought the attention back on the feminine figure with the use of a belt — be it in its slim or broader avatar for Spring-Summer 2014. Closer home, cinched waists have been making their presence felt. “I feel that accentuating the waist works really well for Indian body types. So, I am not surprised the trend has taken over. From classic brown belts to those made of unconventional materials, I believe there is one for each type of personality,” says designer Archana Rao.
At Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week Autumn-Winter 2014 held in March this year, metallic belts were the standout accessory in the collection titled “A Clothes Line” by Frou Frou, Rao’s label. Instead of just being worn the usual way — looped in trousers and skirts — the metal belts, some even boasting studs, were nattily worn over shirts and dresses making for a new look. “I contrasted the metal with the use of leather. In the past we have also made belts with woven cane and leather trimmings,” says Rao.
Designer Payal Pratap says she likes to use them as a styling tool. “I personally love belts. I think a person looks a lot more chic when they use a belt. There are so many variations of knotting and experimenting that can be done to alter the look,” says Pratap.
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The designer has worked with different materials varying from leather, textured leather to jacquard, felt and satin. The Japanese Obi-style broad belt was omnipresent in her summer line and she has retained it in her winter collection as well. “I think the Obi belt, which is a rather wide belt, accentuates the waist beautifully, making one look feminine,” she explains. “It adds another dimension to the outfit with the play of colour,” adds Pratap, who suggests wearing a broad leather belt over a tunic or any flared silhouette.
An increasing number of designers are also teaming belts with Indian wear, especially with saris. Traditionally, kamarbands or gold waist bands have been a part of many bridal trousseaux, especially in south India and the belt offers a contemporary take. But designer Nachiket Barve who has paired corded belts with saris in his summer collection lists a few things to keep in mind before getting carried away with the trend. “The waist is accentuated when wearing a belt over a sari or a dress. Those with broader waists should skip it,” says Barve.
Also, the right way to wear a belt over a sari, explains the designer, is to opt for a slim belt and keep it a tad loose. “It would be a fashion faux pas to wear it really tight,” he adds.
More than being just decorative, belts can be functional too, when worn over a sari. Showcasing that well was the designer label Abraham and Thakore. Looking to interpret “sleek uniform dressing”, the designers chose an urban safari as their mood-board for Autumn-Winter 2014 as showcased at WIFW earlier this year. The models wore silk saris with slim golden leather belts with mobile pouches worn over the waist. “It went well with the theme of the collection, which was essentially focussed on urban dressing. Leather belts are a permanent accessory and we like to use them to give definition to a fuller drape,” says designer David Abraham. Belts can also be over jackets and shirts, he feels, provided you pick the right belt.