+ Tips and Tricks

All About Belts, Part I: Belt Essentials

When I started writing this blog in 2008, one of my mantras was “belt it.”  You don’t like the way that dress fits? Belt it.  Want to jazz up that cardigan?  Belt it.  Want to add definition to your waist, break up a long torso, balance a pear shape or just pull together your look? Belt it.  But I get a lot of mail from readers asking fairly rudimentary questions about what belts to buy, how to wear them and where to find belts that fit, so let’s begin at the beginning.

The Seven Belts That Every Woman Needs

The Basic Brown Belt (J.CREW, $50).  This plaque belt is one of my all time favorites.  Yes, it is technically a men’s belt, but that slightly rugged styling is exactly why I love it.  As it ages, the leather gets a little marled, and it just looks better and better.  It’s perfect with jeans, brown pants, over cardigans and shirt dresses.  

Can be worn at the high hip or at the natural waist.

The Basic Black Belt (Isabel Marant, $105). This belt is making it’s third appearance on CHS, so I must like it.  I think the ring closure is better than a traditional buckle because it eliminates bulk, and it makes it easier to size.  Tension belts like this one and the one above are very versatile because you’re not limited by where the hole for the buckle is.  Every woman needs a basic black and a basic brown belt.

Can be worn at the high hip or at the natural waist.

The Colored Belt (Dorothy Perkins, $11).  A colored belt is a great way to break up a solid-colored dress, add flare to a cardigan or liven up a white button down and jeans.  This skinny belt with a metal clasp is elegant and chic, and can you believe it’s only $11?  Wear it over a navy or white sundress or with a gray or yellow cardigan.

Can be worn at the high hip, at the natural waist or just below the natural waist.

The Wide Belt (BCBG, $38).  If you like to wear sweater dresses, t-shirt dresses or shirt dresses, you need a wide belt with stretch.  It slims bulk, adds definition at the waist and pulls the whole look together.  It’s also great at the top of a pencil skirt.

Can be worn at the natural waist or just below the natural waist.  Not suitable for being worn at the high hip as with pants.

The Animal-Print Belt (Old Navy, $13).  Whether you choose leopard, snow leopard, zebra, ostrich or snake skin, an animal print or animal skin belt is a great addition to any wardrobe.  It’s one of those “It goes with nothing, so it goes with everything” situations.  Leopard print like this looks fantastic with black, shades of brown, red, yellow and jewel tones.  No pastels, please.

Can be worn at the high hip, at the natural waist or just below the natural waist.  Though I would be careful wearing a double belt like this at the high hip or with pants as it can get bulky.

The Gold Belt (DvF, $126).  This should really be called the metallic belt, but since I like gold, it’s the gold belt.  When buying a metallic belt, I like to choose one without a buckle or with a “fashion” buckle like this one.  This allows me to mix the belt with every day pieces and evening attire.  

Can be worn at the natural waist or just below the natural waist.  If you wear it on the high hip, it will draw the eye down.  You don’t want the eye to go down.  

The Bright Belt (J.CREW, $40).  A few months ago, this belt wouldn’t have even made the list falling under the “colored belt” category.  But, it looks like brights will be around for awhile, and belts are a good, inexpensive way to indulge in a trend.  This belt would look lovely over a colored dress (cobalt, yellow, orange, red), with a grey cardigan or belting a white shirtdress.  Don’t be afraid of color. Play around with it, and I’m sure you will find a million ways to wear this belt.

Check back later today for two more posts on how to find belts in your size and how to wear them.  See you then!

Leave a Reply to A · cancel comment


  1. KC says:

    Great post, Belle! I honestly own ONE belt – and i only bought it because my pants were falling down…belts are like a foriegn language to me. Thanks again for another great post!

    February 8, 2012/Reply
  2. Meg says:

    Best post ever! I probably own 20 belts, but picked up some new ways to wear them that I have not thought of before.

    February 8, 2012/Reply
  3. Maharani says:

    Might be worth adding a really great chain belt to the essential collection……

    February 9, 2012/Reply
  4. A says:

    I thought you would appreciate that I was frantically rereading these belt posts for help this morning at 7am when I was getting dressed for work and trying to find an acceptable belt to put over my dress and cardigan combination.


    February 14, 2012/Reply