Welcome to Werk It, where we discuss the accessories and extras that will make your basic work staples more stylish. Today, let’s talk about belts.
No matter how many times I’ve discussed belts over the years, I still get questions. “Which belts should I own?” “How do you wear them?” “What if the belt is too big/small?” Here are the five belt styles that offer the most bang for your buck, and some tips on how to style and wear them.
Stretch Belts. The easiest belts to wear are belts with leather or faux-leather fronts and elastic backing. The elastic gives the belts stretch. This way, you can wear them over dresses or sweaters or jackets will no loss of snugness. The other great thing about stretch belts is that they usually don’t have a buckle, so there’s no annoying “belt tail” sticking out.
The best stretch belt that I’ve spotted recently is this $21 cross-front stretch belt from Last Call. It has a unique shape and fit that will define the waist beautifully. If you like thinner belts, I like this Apt. 9 belt in ivory with a decorative buckle.
Plate Belts. Similar to a stretch belt, a plate belt is one smooth piece that fits around the waist. Instead of a buckle, the belt has a piece of metal across the front. These are the best belts to wear over dresses because they jazz up even the most basic sheath. They also bring a lot of style and impact to an outfit.
Decorative Belts. Belts can be basic and sophisticated, or they can be a lot of fun. Some of my favorite belts are covered in studs, sparkle, or bows. If you choose wisely, these adornments bring life and interest to your outfit without looking childish. Kate Spade’s simple bow belts breathe new life into old pieces. And a bit of embellishment, like on this Florentine Beaded Belt, can update a pre-worn cocktail dress in a flash.
Skinny Belts had a real moment about five years ago. Every woman was rocking a pencil-thin, pastel belt over their J.Crew summer cardigans. And if the belt was too long, you could tie them into all kinds of cool knots for a chic look. (Pro Tip: If you can’t find belts that fit, pick up an inexpensive belt hole punch to adjust them at home.)
Masculine Belts. If I’m belting a loose-fitting coat or a shirtdress, I don’t want a belt that’s too pretty. I want something with a bit of masculinity and some weight to it. Even with a feminine chiffon dress, the contrast of a chunkier, distressed belt can give it a bit of edge. This J.Crew men’s plaque belt is one of my favorites; over time, the belt has worn down to a nice, distressed patina that looks perfectly lived in.
Bonus Belt: The Obi. Once you get a good stable of belts in your wardrobe, the style to break into is the Obi. This tied, shield-like belt brings a Fifth Avenue fashion editor chic to any outfit. I mean, just check out this obi-belted blazer. This belt is also a good option for those who want the versatility of something adjustable without a buckle.