When I see a man wearing slacks without a belt, I have to wonder: Are his pants falling down? It’s like seeing a grown-up with his shoelaces untied, at once triggering concern and the sense of empathy—I too, have forgotten to wear a belt—that makes it possible.
One such man is Jared Kushner, the senior adviser to Donald Trump, and his belt loops are emptier than the White House science and technology office.
At first I thought that Kushner—who, at 36, in charge of peace in the Middle East and innovating the American government, among other intractable challenges—might have left his belt at airport security on his jaunt to Iraq this week.
But some light investigation reveals that Kushner has been eschewing that staple of the male wardrobe for some time now. Here he is walking off Air Force One at Palm Beach International airport before spending some time with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago this past February:
Does he hold his pants up with scotch tape? The last time Slate could find a photo of Kushner wearing a belt was at a Trump golf tournament in Westchester in 2014. It was such a simpler time:
And in the preceding years, he wore plenty of belts:
Now, it’s true that Cary Grant looked great without a belt in North by Northwest. But then he wore pants without belt loops. When the Wall Street Journal asked, in November, “Do Guys Still Need to Wear a Belt With a Suit?” the alternative the paper imagined was a pair of pants with built-in buckled straps. Or perhaps a pair of suspenders. Not mass-market khakis with belt loops hanging open like basketball hoops.
One Slate colleague suggests a corollary: Apparently beltlessness is, in certain very rarified circles, an indication of how expensive your pants are. Naturally, custom-made European slacks fit so well that the very idea of a belt is uncouth. (Those pants do not come with belt loops, to be clear.)
This seems to be where Kushner gets it—from his fashionable Euro-slacks:
But the practice spread from there to more normal pants, because once you’re out of the habit of wearing a belt, you forget to wear a belt:
Interestingly, 2014—the end of Kushner’s belt period—was the year that the price index for leather products hit its all time high. It has since declined by 40 percent. So too, perhaps, has the cachet of a very rich man wearing a belt.