How to Style a Belt for a Super Sleek and Polished Look

2 Materials
10 Minutes

To belt or not to belt? I am going to do a deep dive, comprehensive guide on how to style belts. Belts can change a silhouette, affect proportions, texture, and color. They can change the style of a look.

Here are some ideas to use as a jumping off point to get creative with what you already have in your closet.

Tools and materials: 

  • Belts from your closet
  • Outfits from your closet
Jeans, shirt and belt outfit

1. How a belt affects the overall vibe of a look

Let's start with how a belt affects the overall vibe of a look.

When you add a belt to any outfit, you are adding more visual weight. A white shirt and jeans is a very basic outfit. When you add a belt, tuck in the shirt and wear an elevated shoe, the look feels polished and pulled together. 

How to style belts

Consider how polished and pulled together you want your look to feel. You will also want to keep in mind how much visual weight you already have in your look. These insights will help determine whether or not you wear a belt. 

Belt with gold buckle

A black leather belt with a simple gold or silver buckle is a great staple. Because it's black, it can work with neutrals and colors.

Even the simplest of belts can add a bit of shine to your outfits. A nice black belt makes basic items feel a bit fresher.

How to style belts

While one belt can add a little bit of polish, a different belt can add some edge to a look. 

How to style belts

When I wear this dark brown leather belt, the roundness of the buckle and the worn thickness of the leather, give the look a tougher feel. It adds some edge. 

How to style belts

A lighter brown belt with the same outfit creates a more folksy feel. 

2. How a belt can help silhouettes and proportions

Let's talk about silhouettes and proportions. You can use a belt in two places to create or add to your already existing curves: the waist and the hips. 


Belt with blazer

The most commonly used place people belt to change up the silhouette is at the waist. You can use it to cinch a dress, or a blazer. You can pair it with high waisted pants.

If you want to bring even more focus to the waist, choose a belt in a contrasting color to the outfit you're wearing. 

How to style belts

If you like the idea of waist definition, but you don't like drawing the eye to your midsection, consider adding a blazer over the look.

Alternatively, you can use a long cardigan or an open shirt in a contrasting color. This will make your waist look smaller than it is because the eye is seeing the smaller portion of the belt within the two lengthwise columns created by the open blazer.

This is a good way to get waist definition, without accentuating the hourglass silhouette. 


How to style belts

If you have a long torso, a thicker belt is usually better. Wearing it at your natural waistline will not shorten you because you've got so much real estate to cover.

If you're short waisted, a thinner belt will work better for you. 


Belt for proportions

Pay attention to the proportions of your clothes as well. If you have a long torso, it's best to keep the line of your look going on the bottom half of your body.

When going for a low waist belt look, you don't want to break up the lower third part of your body any more than you already have. 

How to style belts

You can see in this example on the left, wearing a lower waist belt with a cropped bottom skirt makes the legs look shorter in proportion to the rest of the body.

In the example on the right, I kept that line going with a maxi dress and it creates a proportioned lengthening effect. 


Using a belt to break up a monochrome outfit

3. How a belt can add a pop of color to a look

When it comes to overall styling, color and texture are key.

Even if you are working with a very neutral closet, a belt can add a lot to a look. If you are wearing a monochromatic outfit, a belt is a great way to add a hint of color. 

How to style belts

If you are petite, you might want a belt that is standard or thinner width, so it doesn't take up too much real estate on your body.

You could also wear a belt that is more in line with the color palette of the base outfit. 

How to style belts

Styling a belt to match your shoes or your bag has become more popular again. It adds a classiness to the look. 

How to style belts

Keeping your personal silhouette in mind will help you determine which size belt to wear as well as where on your waist you want it to sit.

Consider the boldness of the belt as well as the color when deciding how to balance and style the rest of your accessories. Let me know in the comments which of these tips were most helpful to you!

Suggested materials:
  • Belts from your closet
  • Outfits from your closet

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