HIGH COUNTRY | Street-style star Miroslava Duma shows off her waist in Paris.
Vincenzo Grillo / IMAXtree

YOU’D BE FORGIVEN for thinking that I’ve got it all wrong when I say that the waist is where it’s at. Most shops aren’t yet awash with the high-waisted skirts, pants and dresses that were all over the runway. But trust me, there’s a fashion-quake on the horizon. So the sooner you adjust your wardrobe and buying habits, the better.

Almost every designer out there is sneakily raising the waists of everything from jeans to jumpsuits (yes, even those new bastions of forgiveness now nip tightly at the waist). While not all of it looks radically “Power ’80s,” I guarantee that what you try on in stores this fall will feel different, and possibly more snug, than the clothing of the past decade.

Yes, it’s been almost 10 years since we buttoned or fastened anything around our middles, which is likely to give many of us pause for thought. Undeniably, lower-rise trousers and skirts are more forgiving (muffin tops excluded), but whether they’re actually more flattering has long been open to debate. This season, many of fashion’s power players have illustrated just how good waisted clothing can look. Dries Van Noten’s sumptuous coats, worn belted or tied high, are a highlight (from £790, mytheresa.com ), as are Céline’s high-waisted, wide-leg pants (from £1,000; doverstreetmarket.com ). Even a cropped sheepskin jacket got the cinching treatment at Burberry Prorsum (£2,995, burberry.com ).

From left, fall 2014 looks from Balenciaga, Burberry Prorsum and Dries Van Noten.
Rex Features (middle)

Arguably, what kicked off all of this waist business was the advent of sportswear, notably track pants, as daywear. As the slobbing staple went upmarket, so rose the waist to facilitate a chicer, smarter silhouette. Now, designer sweatpants are practically black-tie fodder. I might just try it, especially if it’s

Christopher Kane

’s snakeprint sweatpants (£295, brownsfashion.com ). Another addition this season is the culotte—one of my all-time-favorite easy, comfy, practical but smart office looks. Check out Paul & Joe’s leather version (£565, net-a-porter.com ).

IT’S A CINCH | From left, Dai swing top, £155, whistles.com, and Givenchy striped tweed pencil skirt, £727, matchesfashion.com; raw-edge wool top, £79, cosstores.com; high-waisted trousers with belt, £40, zara.com.
From left, Whistles; Matches Fashion; Cos; Zara

As waists rise, tops are shortening. Though crop tops could easily be seen as the preserve of the young and those confident (or foolish) enough to flaunt that absurdly sexy stretch of skin between the belly button and ribs, the ramifications will be huge. Not everything will be cropped, but you will begin to notice a shorter, boxier shape emerging in everything from sequined sweatshirts to basic cashmere sweaters. And it’s just a fact of fashion that one cannot sensibly wear a short sweater or shirt with anything that hangs off the hips. Not only does it ruin the silhouette, it’s impractical and likely to make us all feel a little chilly.

Instead, soften the silhouette by wearing a new boxier top, like Cos’s textured, cornflower-blue wool top (£79, cosstores.com ) or Whistles’ gray Dai swing top (£155, whistles.com ), with a longer shirt underneath. Pair with fitted or baggy pants—try Zara’s beige belted trousers (£40, zara.com ) or the gray wide suit ones from


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(£35, hm.com )—or a high-waisted pencil or pleated skirt. Givenchy’s black tweed pencil skirt with its primary-color stripes would be a good investment (£727, matchesfashion.com ).

There’s one other option that would make this whole aesthetic work seamlessly: You could just tuck your shirt in.