Women’s Belts

Women’s belts are made for more than just holding up your pants. Belts can be cinched around the waist to create an hourglass shape or hung at the hips for fashion effect without being looped through your pants. Two years ago, fashion belts were all the rage, and now they’ve been adapted to create shapes for sweater dresses, shirt dresses, tunics and sack dresses. They draw attention to your curves and give the illusion of a thin waist. Let’s look at the different types of belts…

Tailored Belts

A classic style made of patent leather, usually, that should be paired with ultra-feminine fabrics with ruffles, lace or crochet rather than the usual formal wear. The contrast between the rugged belt and the soft and delicate lace will create visual interest by balancing a look that can be considered too girly.

Woven Belts

Woven belts are the product of the bygone Bohemian trend and the Western/cowboy look. Never pair this style of belt with a complicated or elaborate buckle or with Western/cowboy boots unless you are trying to dress like a cowgirl for Halloween. It becomes too much like a costume. Pair it with a crisp, white Boho blouse for a hippie-chic look.

Wide Belts

This look became popular again after British model Kate Moss was spotted wearing wide belts with her outfits. The belts are usually made of leather and worn low on the waist. Some wide belts are adorned with metal studs, embroidery and elaborate buckles. These belts are the most durable of the different types and therefore are worth spending extra money for a unique or handmade piece that will last and that can be worn despite current trends.

Preppy Belts

Designed for the nautical trend, which lasted about as long as the military trend; that is to say, not very long. You don’t have to wear preppy belts with nautical-themed clothing; they can be worn with any preppy item. Wear them with your clothes from the Gap: Capris, Bermuda shorts, basic shorts, polo shirts and blazers. They come in bright colors and add interest to khaki-colored basic wardrobe staples.

Ribbon and Sash Belts

Ribbon belts are thinner than sash belts, but both are worn in the same way. They are basically like scarves that are tied low around the hips – in other words, don’t expect them to hold up your pants. Do not tie the sash or ribbon around your waist either tightly or loosely because it will look sloppy and careless. It also creates an unflattering shape. Try using the wide belt instead to define your waist. You want your waist to appear longer and leaner and a ribbon won’t do that. You can, however, loop the ribbon through your jeans for a clean and cute look.

Embellished Belts

A difficult look for a grown woman to pull off. Embellished belts have giant flowers or butterflies or are encrusted with beads and stones and are something that a child would be more likely to wear. A quirky woman with a certain flair could pull this off, but with some difficulty. The trick is to pair it with basics: basic jeans or khaki pants and a tank top in a plain bright color, no patterns. The idea is to use the belt to attract attention to the waist.

Sizing Women’s Belts

Belts come in XXXS, XS, S, M, and L and each size varies depending on the brand. Generally speaking, XXXS size belts are for women with waist sizes between 20-24” or 60cm. XS covers 22-25.6” or 24-28” or 65-70cm – a broader range to consider when shopping for yourself. You may usually fit into an XS belt, but watch out for the brand because the belt can be even smaller than you think. S covers from 26-29” or 75cm and M covers 28-31” or 80cm. L is the largest size sold in most retail outfits, unfortunately for the plus-size women out there, and it covers 30-33.5” or 85cm. Some retailers will carry belts that fit up to a 34” waist, but for a larger belt you will have to visit the plus-size store. The small, medium and large sizes are meant to correspond with women’s clothes sizes. To be certain of your size, a belt is easy enough to try on in the store.

Quality Materials

When you are shopping for women’s belts you want to pay close attention to the belt’s composition. Belts can be made from so many thing. They can be made from fabric, beads, chains, vinyl, leather, braided cords and even elastic. Good quality choices are heavier weight fabrics, preferably lined or quilted for durability, leathers as long as the price range isn’t too low, vinyls with tight stitching around the edges (a sign of quality) and heavier weight chains that don’t break with a slight tug. You want to be able to yank on the chain without it coming apart or breaking or it’s not worth the purchase. All other choices, the braided belts, elastic belts, belts made from beads or belts made from cords need to be made from substantial materials, with tight stitches or weaving going into the workmanship. Belts with elastic, either entirely or just partially should stretch out and back into shape rather quickly when you do a test stretch. If it sags or doesn’t spring back to it’s original shape, you will be wasting your money. Anything is better than a cheap elastic belt, made from poor quality materials, that puckers and loses it’s shape, in this case even before you buy it.

Pricing your belt purchase

Belts can be found everywhere, even in a Dollar Store or any giant retail store. That doesn’t mean that the belt will last or that it will look good and draw the right attention. Belts are sold in any clothing retail store and even in kiosks in the mall. Be wary of fashion trends that require certain items in your wardrobe in order for them to work. For example, don’t get a woven belt if you don’t like Bohemian or if you don’t have any Boho blouses already in your wardrobe. Your belt should be able to work with the wardrobe that you already have; if you have to buy new pieces in order to compliment a new belt, you’ve got the wrong idea. Guess and Aldo offer more high-end designer belts without the designer price tag, but they can still run about $50. If you’re after a solid belt that will hold up your jeans, find one that is pure leather. The material makes the belt more costly but you can probably find a good one at Guess and Aldo for $60 and up.

Smart shopping

Remember, a good belt can complete your look, define your curves and add interest to your wardrobe. A cheap belt will draw all the wrong attention and a trend-based belt will sit in the back of your closet. Keep in mind the range of measurements that are possible for a small, medium or large belt. Try it on in the store or have an accurate measurement of your waist available for shopping online. Add some pizzazz to your favourite outfit with the perfect belt!

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