When I think of braces, I can’t help but picture an old man who needs them to hold up his trousers over his pot-belly. In fact, many of us may still have an old relative or neighbour who refuses to give them up for the benefits of belts and elasticated waists. Well, now we can join them! Topshop are featuring braces in their latest stock and I must say… I don’t hate ‘em! With the right top underneath, they give the typical shirt and skirt combo a new lease on life.

The Topshop pencil skirt with braces ( left, £28) has a centre front slit, back ruching and braces attached with buttons to the waistband. Match it with a cute blouse like this one from Dorothy Perkins (£15) and you have a sophisticated take on a traditional look. For something slightly different, team these striped thigh-length shorts with braces (below right, £32) with a v-neck tee or singlet.

A cheaper alternative is clip-on braces (example above left) which can be attached to a skirt, shorts or trousers (as seen on the Marc by Marc Jacobs catwalk, right). And you don’t have to rummage through grandpa’s closet, Shoppers World sell them for £10.95 a pair and they come in a range of colours. Now, let’s just hope they don’t try and bring back long socks and sandals! [Kimberley Foster]