When To Belt and When Not To Belt

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How to wear belts

Belts are often the forgotten, left behind accessory. Sometimes we don’t even think about them as accessories but they can be!

To simplify it, I think about belts as either decorative or functional (form vs. function). The reason is because of our bodies – the same belt can’t help cinch a pair of loose pants and provide a fun pop of color around your waist while wearing a dress.

What to do? Consider wearing a belt when …

  • You have a pair of loose pants that are about a half size (and no more than one size) too big for you. This is when your pants, jeans, skirts are just loose enough to sag a bit or gap in the waist, but not enough to go to a tailor of seamstress. If you start to see gathering beneath the waist band – meaning the clothing has bunched up in front of your hips or on your butt (use a full-length mirror!) then they are too big and need to be altered.
  • You want to define your waist in your outfit. This is typically done when wearing a dress but not always. You can also do this when wearing a skirt and a top – to create the appearance of a dress and you can do this when wearing pants. Why define your waist? Defining your waist helps accentuate your figure and emphasize the hourglass silhouette. You can use it as a visual “trick” to elongate your legs. Anytime you emphasize your natural waist or slightly above, you’re visually ending your torso and starting your legs. It’s a great lengthening technique. Watch this video to see how I styled my clients when wearing belts (plus looks created with scarves and jewelry, too.)
  • You want to add color. This is an example of form (vs. function). If you have a neutral dress or mix of neutrals in an outfit, a belt is a great way to add color and make the outfit unique. I also like to use belts when wearing separates – in particular skirts and shirts to create the illusion of a dress. A belt can literally tie the outfit together – making separates appear as one garment.

When to Belt and When Not to Belt

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