Breaking Into Belting

How to wear belts

Fabulous reader Elly recently asked for some general advice about exploring belts. She wasn’t necessarily looking for information about styles of belts or how to wear them best – topics that Audi covered thoroughly in her amazing guest post on belting – but instead, she wondered how to even begin experimenting with belts.

And since I’ve heard many of you say that belting intimidates you, I thought I’d share more broadly what I told Elly.

belts figure flattery

As with anything new, the best way to delve into belting is simply to experiment. For starters, you’ll need to figure out which styles work for your body type and where on your body to belt. And although Audi’s post is a great jumping-off point, you’ll need to do some in-person trial runs to find out for sure what works on your figure.

redlace2

So start with scarves: Put on a fairly loose dress or tunic, and try belting it with a scarf at various spots on your bod. Hips, wearing waist, natural waist, and up under your bust. See what looks best. Then try making the scarf wide like an obi belt and see how that looks. Fold it so it’s the width of a pants belt. Roll it tight as you can so it’s skinny. See which width is most flattering. You may find that multiple combinations look good – skinny at your natural waist, wide up by your bust, medium at your wearing waist. Most women who like and can wear belts do so multiple ways, so don’t decide you’ve found your single belt-wearing style and stick to it! Keep exploring!

burgorchid_outfit2

Now that you know what works for you, you’re going to need to actually procure some belts. So my next bit of advice? THRIFT. Belts are available at thrift stores in great abundance, and for dirt cheap. Why pay $30 a pop, when you can get 20 belts to experiment with for that price at the Salvation Army?

This is especially important since a belt that fits your natural waist is going to be WAY SMALLER than one that hugs your hips. So in addition to buying up multiple widths, you might need to stock up on multiple lengths. Yet another reason to buy used! I have never paid more than $3 for a thrifted belt, and often snap them up for $0.25.

grdresssuzu_outfit1

About three years ago, I owned two belts and they were both for trouser wearing. They languished unworn in my closet because, well, I do not have a trouser-friendly body. But once belting dresses at the natural waist became a popular style, I dove in headfirst and started collecting belts like a madwoman. I now have a fabulous and enviable collection of belts, and love nothing more than to throw one into the outfit mix. But I did tons and tons of experimenting before I became truly comfortable with belting, and I encourage you to do the same. All you need to get started is a scarf and a mirror!

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  • La Historiadora de Moda

    These are great tips! Two of my favorite belts actually came with items of clothing, but I wear them with anything and everything.

  • Middle Aged Woman

    That second outfit with the ling black skirt and the leather belt? That may be the sexiest thing I have ever seen on you. Makes me want to switch teams!

  • Faith J.

    I love the outfit with the long black skirt. I have a similar skirt so I'm gonna try to recreate it!

    One rule I try to stick to, being a petite girl (5'3"), bright belts that contrast with the rest of my outfit cut me in half visually. I have a bright red belt but I wear it with a red shirt.

    Great post! I would love to hear everyone's favorite places to buy quality belts.

  • futurelint

    I know I need to experiment with belting more… I own like 100 thrifted belts and a lot of them are really neat, I just tend to gain weight in my middle and have very narrow hips, so I always assumed belting was not my friend. However, they do look good pretty low or very high on me. I just need to try to incorporate them more so I get used to the idea of them. I'm gonna go play around with some this weekend!

  • Angela Pea

    Thank You! I love belts, but have never been brave enough to wear them. I like the scarf-trial idea!

    Angela

  • Kathryn

    Great tutorial. I myself am a complete belt-aholic and I have a few other tips. Whenever I get an item that comes with a belt I always immediately remove it and put it in my giant belt basket. I always cut off the little string belt holders too. That way I can belt things where they work for me and I can mix and match belts to my clothing.

  • Julia

    Perfect timing on this post! I'm belt-challenged and am currently struggling to find what kind of belts work with my body (and to be confident enough to try a new style!) I recently just thrifted two belts and am trying to see what looks good on me. Thanks for the post!

  • K.Line

    Thrifting is an excellent idea. You can find some awesome vintage belts in great condition – some of them even by well known designers.

  • Anonymous

    Sal, you look fabulous in that plaid skirt with tights, boots, and tie belt. I absolutely love those proportions on you. Perfection.

    I have some leather good leather belts I rely on. One is my brother's from grade school. I think if one is going to buy a new belt then invest some money. It is worth the same as a good bag. I recently bought a belt in two sizes: the smaller for my waist and the larger for my low risers.

  • Christina

    I have been itching to belt my outfits these days, but I only have one belt that fits my waist and it has a very distinctive design. I never even thought to thrift them! I stopped by the thrift store right after work today and scored three. Thanks for the tip!

  • daisy

    I have tried belts, but I just don't think they work on big-busted, short-waisted gals like myself. Or maybe it's apples in general.

    Any apples here who wear belts a lot? I'd love to see some photos (and I don't mean on skinny apples!).

  • Law Girl

    I have a very boyish shape so I'd shied away from belts because I thought I needed more waist definition. I'm just starting to belt now and this post has some awesome tips!

  • jrwitt

    Great post today. Some really fantastic wardrobe combinations! Thanks for the belting tips too. Keep up the inspiration 🙂 Thank you!!

  • The Novelist

    I love the sexy leather skirt! I also love the plaid grown up schoolgirl skirt! My husband would really appreciate that one!

  • – tessa

    What a brilliant idea – using a scarf to start! I too have bought a bajillion belts at thrift stores. That way I never feel bad if it takes a long time to wear one of them (and it often does).

  • Style Odyssey

    ooooh, love the all-black ensemble! and black leather skirt in a other pic.
    belts- great tips. i'm kicking myself, should have bought more belts last time i was shopping in the US.

  • Queen of Sheba

    what is that black asymmetric leather belt in the third pic? WANT, and it's Christmas-list time (-;

  • Sal

    Queen of Sheba: That's from Audi's Etsy store! It's called the Saddle Belt, and there isn't one currently for sale, but here's a sold listing. http://www.etsy.com/transaction/20854886

    They'll do a custom one for you, I'm sure.