It was clear from the response to my post on belt phobia that belts are not everyone’s friend. Wearing any kind of belt can be challenging, especially when you’re shy about drawing attention to your waistline. On the other hand, belts are fun and useful accessories that have the potential to add a whole new dimension to your wardrobe. They can add extra polish to an outfit, define the waistline as needed, provide textural interest and even add a bit of edge.
Wearing belts effectively over tops and dresses is a marriage between the style, colour and position of the belt, and the style of top. That’s a lot of variables! So it’s really hard to cover all belt solutions for all body types. Even if I took you shopping, I’d end up experimenting right there with you in the store because there are few tried and tested rules in this area.
But there are a few loose guidelines that might help you to get started on your own. In some instances you’ll apply many of these guidelines to one outfit, whereas in others you’ll only apply one or two:
- Find your sweet spot: Position is important. Sometimes your sweet spot will be a little higher than your natural waistline and sometimes a little lower. When you’re regular bust size and carrying a little extra around the midriff, positioning a belt just above the waistline is usually the sweet spot. When you’re short-waisted and well endowed, positioning a belt lower than the waistline in front and at waist level in the back is often the solution. If you’re long wasited, wearing a belt high on the natural waist is usually most effective.
- Pick a width: Once you’ve found your sweet spot (or spots — you might have more than one) think about the width of the belt. Sometimes a wider elasticized belt worn a little above your midriff extra bits does the trick. Sometimes positioning it right onto the extra bits does the girdling trick. With a straight, undefined waistline, a narrower belt positioned a little lower in front can work really well. Long waisted gals can usually wear extra wide belts, whereas short-waisted gals tend to look better in narrower or skinny belts.
- Think about contrast: Once you’ve found your sweet spot and the best widths for your frame, you have a choice between making the belt contrast or blend in with your outfit. A low contrast belt is usually best for waistlines which aren’t that defined, giving you a flattering long lean line. Whereas a high contrast belt automatically draws more attention to the waistline.
- Add another layer: Layering a jacket or cardigan over a top with either a low or high contrast belt is an effective way of wearing a belt without worrying about its effects around the midriff. When worn this way, the belt adds an interesting textural dimension to your outfit.
- Elastic is your friend: Where possible, choose belts that are part elastic because you can’t beat the comfort. They’ll stretch with your body during the day.
- Wovens work wonders: So you’re happy with how you look in a belt and it’s all sorted. But your confidence falls to pieces when you sit down because those extra midriff bits start spilling both over and underneath the belt. Enter the magical effects of woven tops and dresses that don’t cling like knits, but glide over curves adding structure in the right places. Wovens can either be rigid like shirt fabric, or soft and drapy like silk and rayon blends. Both work equally well.
- Give it time: Belts can feel odd when you’re not used to wearing them. Sometimes it’s just a question of getting used to the extra pressure around your waistline, so allow some time to get used to the feeling of wearing a belt.
I’m not saying that belts are essential. You can absolutely look fab sporting a beltless style, but they do add many more options to your existing wardrobe. If you would like to add belts to your outfits, start by following some of the suggestions above and don’t give up too soon.
If anyone has more belt wearing tips to share, let’s hear them. If there are further belt wearing concerns let’s hear those too.