This is a complete guide on how to wear belts with jeans, dresses, skirts, sweaters and shirts, plus all the style insider tips you need.
A little back story on how I fell in love with belts.
There was a time in my middle twenties when I shopped for a bridesmaid dress for a friend´s wedding. When I found a lavender chiffon dress at a boutique´s display window, I knew without a doubt that it was the dress for me.
Yet there was no fitting room at the tiny boutique in that huge shopping mall where we shopped, so I had to take the dress with me and try it on only at home. No problem, I could bring it back if it didn´t fit well. But when I tried it on at home, it looked like a potato sack on me. Hanging loose and shapeless from the bottom of my chest.
However, the dress was so beautiful that I couldn´t let go of it. My then boyfriend, now husband, suggested to cinch my waist with a wide black belt. Fortunately, I had a couple of wide black belts in my wardrobe. So that´s what I did.
And you know what? The result was a dream.
Since then I developed a huge appreciation for belts. From slim to wide belts and corsets, any belt that can quickly create a waist (or an illusion of a waist) or add glamor to a simple look, is always welcome in my wardrobe.
One of the most important arsenals I have in my wardrobe are belts. I love belts. I invest on my belts.
Ever since I got my first job at twenty, I started collecting this wardrobe staple. In the beginning I went for cute but cheap ones (I had a smaller paycheck + I was the breadwinner for my family). But since moving and working abroad, thanks to a bigger paycheck, I started spending more on expensive and durable belts. I am also slowly but surely collecting show-stopping, one-of-a-kind belts.
I can have a very simple dress, or a very affordable, kindá dull tunic top, but the moment I dress it up with a nice belt, the result looks like a million bucks. (Okay, I`m obviously exaggerating here, but you know what I mean).
I take care of my belts like they´re the most precious; probably more than I take care of my shoes and clothes. Now, I´ve put belts at the same pedestal with my arm-candy bags.
Lately though, I realized that I have a big box full of belts that I haven´t worn for a long time. I want to get creative ones again, and to get inspired to actually wear them and give them a chance to shine. Since I`m notorious for finding inspirations from the catwalk, here are the five creative ideas in accessorizing with belts that I am set to try.
So here are all the tips on how to wear belts for ladies that will surely help you and me put our belts to good use when it comes to styling.
Table of Contents
1. Accent or Pull Together an Outfit with a Black Belt.
Cinching a solid dress with a black belt at the waist — whether the belt is bowed or buckled with gold – is something I am used to doing. What I haven´t tried yet, however, is pulling together a mixed and matched, patterned and layered separates with a wide leather waist belt. Surprisingly, I have two wide waist cinchers that I haven´t worn yet, ever! It´s time to put them out to the world.
The photo on the right is one of my current goals.
2. Polish with the Matching Belt
The belts in these outfits are stunners on their own but they are not stand-alones. As we can see, they are precisely part of the outfit. They are exactly an important element of the whole look and yet they don´t steal the show.
They help create the show while blending harmoniously together with the other pieces in the look. Obviously, the key to achieving this is having a belt with exactly the same color with one or two pieces in the look.
3. Belting to Create Waist
Do you have some boxy tops or dresses that don´t flatter your shape? Chances are, cinching it with a slim belt at the waist will create that illusion of an hourglass shape. If you are layers of scarves on your dress, a wide waist belt will pull it all together.
4. To Showcase as an Accent
This belt is used to break the monochrome or tonal look of an outfit. If you remove the belt, you´ll be left with a boring look. Strategically adding a bright belt on a muted monochromatic dress, for example, of a head to toe tonal combination, or a black belt on a bright solid jumpsuit, is a clever way to make your outfit so much more interesting.
5. The More is More with Belts
For some people, mixing together different patterns and colors in a look is a total challenge. They may benefit from having loads of practice, or getting tips from a professional stylist, however, there are some people who are born with a knack for playing with patterns and colors. They can easily and effortlessly create looks similar to the runway looks above.
And then there are those people who, no matter how messy they look in their clashing prints, they strut it with loads of confidence and joy. (Who are we to judge?)
My tips in getting creative this way are:
- stick with at most three patterns/colors/textures at a time,
- use a color wheel to identify the complementary or analogous colors that you can put together,
- and pull together the entire look with one piece in solid color be it your top, your inner layer, your shoes or bag, or your coat.
6. To Belt the Cover-Up
The belted cover-up is something not new, but it´s something I personally rarely do because I worry about ruining the crispness of my coat or jacket. But this month I´ve purchased a long, gorgeous cardigan with beautiful print and sleeves that I just love. The caveat, however, is it has an open front. I can´t wear it outdoor in a cold weather like ours. So my solution will be to belt it up.
7. To Wrap Around the Waist with The Belt Purse
Fanny packs have been trending for a while now. My reaction to this trend when I first noticed it was both admiration and hesitation. They reminded me of those busy, poorly dressed but business-savvy women selling fish or farm goods at flea markets back home. Yes, they reminded me of my past.
But how they are being worn now are more than just functional, that´s why they´re trendy, right? I may not be a huge fan of it but I may get one for myself one day. It will be a practical solution to me not being able to carry my handbags around while chasing a super active toddler. If given threee options like the ones above, I will pick the green.
1. How to wear belts with jeans
Belts are commonly worn with jeans, especially if the jeans are bit wide on the waist. However, other than keeping the jeans` waist in place, there are some subtle ways you can do to make your belt an accent to your jeans.
A. Slim leather belt with high waist jeans
Suggested Belt: Maikun Skinny Leather Belt
If the jeans are wide and roomy, take the contrast approach. Go for a slim leather belt. As we can see in the picture above, the jeans are comfy and light washed. Adding a brown slim leather belt to it make the jeans look tidy and put-together.
B. Pull together your layering with a beige and brown belt
Suggested Belt: Michael Kors Signature Logo Reversible Belt
Add a stylish belt for a good peek on your winter layering. It doesn´t have to be a designer, but choose a belt with some striking buckles. It´s also interesting to note in this look, that this is a subtle print-on-print approach. The shirt is printed, and the belt has print in it. Notice that both prints are similar.
C. Wear a white belt with black jeans
Suggested Belt: O-Ring Buckle Leather Belt
White on black. If you want to make your pair of black jeans standout, there´s a quick and esay fix – simply add an attention-grabbing white belt. Also, in order to not make your white belt come off too strong, wear your black jeans with a black button-down shirt that has white prints on it.
D. A white slim belt with white t-shirt and light washed jeans
Suggested Belt: Skinny Leather Belt
White t-shirt and light-washed are the definition of casual outfit is for many of us. However, that casual outfit can be easily look like a statement look. Just add a white slim leather belt and a nice suit jacket.
E. Beige belt with a beige top and gray jeans
Suggested Belt: Earnda Leather Belt Women’s Western
Some women like myself love the allure of gray jeans. I didn´t know how versatile gray jeans are until I owned a pair. And when it comes to how to wear belts with jeans, light gray jeans definitely wins the most-versatile award. You can wear almost any belt colors with it.
But for this look, this is about matching the color of your top with the color of your belt. So if you have a beige turtleneck worn tucked in gray jeans, then add a beige belt to the jeans. Then pull everything together with a cropped, black leather jacket.
F. Give the classic jacket and jeans look a spin
Suggested Belt: Wrap Around Boho Style Cinch Waistband Belt
Want to give your classic jackets and blazers a spin? This white studded corset will do the job.
We normally see black skinny jeans being worn with a plaid long jacket, and the jacket is unbuttoned, right? Well, this time, wrap your unbuttones jacket on your body, and cinch the waist with a corset belt for a reallyl glamorous result.
2. How to wear belts with dresses
There are many reasons why you may want to wear belts with dresses. It might be to add an illusion of a slimmer waist, if not to create waist, to break the monotonity of the solid colored or overall print of the dress, or to simply add interest to the look. Here are some simple things to remember when wearing belts with dresses.
A. A white slim belt with a floral print midi dress
If you have a printed midi dress and you want to break the print at the waist with a belt, consider my go-to tricks:
- The print is tiny, such as fine floral print, add a wide belt on the waist.
- There are big florals on the print, or big patterns, add a slim belt.
- Two or more colors are in the print, match your belt to one of the colors in the print.
B. A canvass belt with a cream mini dress
Suggested Belt: Retro Leather Waistband for Dresses
Cinching your your dress to create a waist doesn´t have to be obvious. You can hide that style goal by opting for a fabulous belt. This works especially well if the dress is simple. Make the belt the focal point of your outfit.
C. A white leather dress with a monochrome Gingham dress
If there are buttons, beads or blings in the look, make sure that the buckle of your belt match them. For example, the gold B buckle of the belt in this look matches the gold buttons of the beige jacket. Always remember this if elegance is a priority in your style.
Matching buttons, buckles, metals and blings in a look keep things elegant.
D. A black corset dress with a solid colored dress
Suggested Belt: Cute Bow Wide Elastic Waist Belt
Dark colors can just be as interesting as bright colors and prints. All you have to do is get yourself a wide corset belt and buckle it on top of your dress. If you choose a fit and flare dress to wear with your corset, even if you have a rectangle or box shape, you will look like an hourglass.
E. A slim leather belt with a flowy bright print dress
Suggested Belt: Thin Waist Belt with Vintage Gold Buckle
Go for neutral slim belts – brown, black or leopard print – if yours is a bright single-colored dress, a printed monochrome, or a white combo. In reverse, if you’re wearing a neutral, opt for bright-colored or printed with rich details slim belt to contrast your dress.
Are you a fan of slim waist belts? Do you wear contrast belts with a monochrome outfit?
F. A gold accent slim belt on a black dress
Suggested Belt: Elastic Metal Stretch Skinny Chain Belt Gold and Silver
Wearing a monochrome dress is best to lengthen your vertical line, meaning, it makes you look taller. However, if worn as is, a monochromatic look tends to look dull and plain. Quickly amp up your mono by adding a slim contrasting belt. It emphasizes your waist and smoothly adds details to your dress.
And remember, you will never go wrong with a slim gold belt on a black dress.
G. A white belt on a light pink dress
Wanna keep things feminine and whimsy? Add a white belt on a pink dress. Other colors that will look really lovely with a white belt are baby blue, cream, light beige, or any pastel colors.
3. How to wear a belt with a summer dress
Unlike in winter when belts are often hidden beneath your thick layering, in summer the belts take center stage. So here are some of the not-so-secret style tips on how to wear belts with dresses but are important to remember nonetheless.
A. A black waist belt on a white sleeveless summer dress
Suggested Belt: Classy C-Shape Buckle Design Waistband
If you´re thinking of going monochromatic in summer, then get your white dress and wear it with a black, wide belt, a pair of black heels, and a black clutch.
B. A pink embellished belt on a pink fit and flare sleeveless dress
There are times when you don´t want to contrast, but to match. So instead of wearing a striking contrasting belt to your summer dress, you may choose instead to add a belt that matches the color of your dress.
Just because they match doesn´t mean that your belt will disappear. If it is embellished with cutouts, it will demand attention just as much as any loud belts.
C. A slim leather belt on a black sleeveless dress
There are many ways to make a black dress look divine. Aside from choosing the right black dress, adding a slim leather belt on the waist will add that much-needed accent to the look. It´s subtle yet powerful.
D. A shiny corset belt on a white sleeveless midi dress
Similar to the style principle in 3.B, instead of adding a black belt to your white dress, why not add a white corset belt with cutouts or sequined accents?
E. A brown belt on a green and pink floral print summer dress
Suggested Belt: Frye Women’s 40mm Leather Belt
Now this is one of my favorite ways to wear a belt with a summer dress. To literally wear a bold green dress with huge floral prints and then adding a brown leather belt at the waist. This works well weather your dress already has a waist or if you´re to use the belt to cinch the waist of a shapeless dress.
4. How to wear belts with skirts
I personally don´t wear belts with skirts that often. However, when I do, I really enjoy it. Here are key things to remember if you´re looking for tips on how to wear belts with skirts.
A. A huge red belt to accent a black pleated skirt
Suggested Belt: Ladies High Waist Wide Leather Belt in Red
If you´re wearing a printed top with a black skirt, add a colored belt that matches your top. The bigger the better, but only if you´re skirt is a midi.
B. A black leather belt to pull together a blazer and skirt layering
Cinching a blazer with a belt is a common style trick that we often see in fall and winter. But this time, you´re wearing the cinched-blazer with a midi skirt. You can complete the look with some ankle boots, are some really fitted knee-high boots.
C. A beige belt on a shimmery pink midi skirt
Suggested Belt: Vintage Stretchy Retro Wide Waist Cinch Belt
Extending the femininity on winter, you can wear a white long sleeve top tucked in a pink metallic pleated midi skirt with a beige belt. Of course the color of your belt will depend on the color of your skirt.
So if your metallic skirt is gold, you can add a light brown belt. If it´s red, a light red belt. Etc.
D. A black belt on a printed skirt with black
If your skirt has a bold print such as huge black and gold print in a pleated skirt, then the best color for your belt is black. The black belt will tone down the wildness of your print. However, if you choose to embrace the wildness of your look, why not add a wide gold belt?
E. A canvass patterned belt on a canvass patterned skirt
Suggested Belt: Fashion Skinny Minimalism Waist Belt
Similar to style trick 1.B, this look is actually another print on print approach. You add a printed belt on a printed skirt, provided that the prints are similar.
F. A blue denim belt on a bold printed mini skirt
This is a fantastic way to contrast a striking and totally bold printed skirt—add a denim belt. It´s important to remember that since the belt and skirt are already busy, keep your top simple.
5. How to wear a cloth belt
This menswear-inspired belt is inspired by martial arts belt worn with kimono. It´s reversible, which means you´re getting two different looks in one. It features a printed quilted fabric on one side and a luxe velvet on the other. The printed side is best worn with solid or basic colors while the luxe velvet will accent a busy printed look.
So basically, when it comes to how to wear a cloth belt, you just have to choose the cloth belt that you love.
6. How to wear belts with sweaters
Adding belts with sweaters can be a tricky task because you will always have to deal with bulkiness. But once you figured out how to flatten the bumpy, adding a beautiful belt to an otherwise dull sweater can make a huge difference to your outfit.
A. A casual sweater with brocade corset belt
There´s no doubt that this brocade corset belt featuring a cherry blossom print and a romantic front lace-up design is very feminine. You don´t want to wear it though over an ultra feminine dress unless you want to look like a damsel in distress. But think of how nicely it can inject femininity to a menswear-inspired combo.
B. Buckle up and long cardigan sweater
Loose cardigan sweaters ofte ´n make me feel cold around the torso. If you´re like me, you can easily wrap the sweater around your torso and cinch together with a bucke up belt for a comfortable snuggle up!
C. An embellished wrap belt with sweater dress
Adding a belt to your sweater dress is easy yet it quickly levels up your look. This is especially true if you find the perfect belt to accent your sweater dress. Some if the most interesting belts out there are boho-inspired.
7. How to wear belts with shirts
You may be wondering how to wear belts with shirts but I personally have found that this styling only really works if the shirt is long. The common way women wear their long shirt with a belt is to leave the buttons in the lower half of the shirt unbuttoned.
For these examples, both shirts are white.
A. Embellished corset with white shirt
If any of your white pieces start to feel boring, try updating it using a statement corset such as this cotton corset from Free People with metal stud and grommet embellishment. This is especially meant for you if you wonder how to make your basic button-downs look trendy.
B. Black tied-up corset with white shirt
Another alternative is this faux leather corset with adjustable tie. Black is always functional and can go with anything! Now although both belts with shirts were worn with jeans, you can always swap the jeans for a midi skirt or even a slip dress.