How to Wear a Belt – tips and tricks to get the most out of this accessory!

by Sylvia

How to Wear a Belt |

A belt is one of the hardest working items in your closet. It’s fashionable and most importantly, accents your curves when worn properly. With so many options available, the most important advice on what belt to choose comes down to what’s most flattering on you.

When should you wear a belt?

As often as you’d like! A good rule of thumb is to help break up the transition between a loose top and tight bottom (or the opposite), when you want to hide waistline imperfections or when you want to accentuate your waist. Add a belt to define your curves under layers including a top and jacket or cardigan.

Gone are the days of matching the belt to the shoes and handbag. In fact, a belt works best when it stands on its own, drawing attention to the waist it cinches so well. Because we’re all different, the most important advice is to try different ways of wearing a belt until you like what you see.

If you don’t normally wear belts, they make take some getting used to at first. If you’re comfort minded, start off with a stretchy or elastic belt. And always buy a belt that fits you properly — not too tight or so long that you have to use the last notch in the belt to wear it well.

Where to Wear a Belt on Your Body

On the Waist

Find the narrowest part of your torso. That’s your waistline and the spot you want to accentuate.

Some ideas on how to wear a belt on the waist include:


  • With a flowy long skirt
  • A belt over a cardigan (dressier skinny belt version vs. chunkier wide belt for a more casual look)
  • With a form fitting skirt or cocktail dress
  • To cinch a bulky fall or winter jacket
  • Naomi Watts wore a black skinny belt to add contrast to a tailored suit (below)

How to wear a belt |

Belt Worn at the Hips:


When trying a low-slung belt at the hips, medium or wider belts work best. Try wearing a hip belt with:

  • A maxi dress
  • Layered over a casual boyfriend sweater look
  • To dress up jeans and a t-shirt
  • With a short, summery dress


Sitting Closer to the Ribs:

Wearing a belt just above the waist line elongates your legs and accents your bust. With a loose or flowy bottomed dress, wearing a belt closer to the ribs also hides small belly flaws.


This is one of the trickier looks to pull off since the ribcage expands and contracts, causing a high belt worn too tight to constrict breathing or slip down your torso. A stretchy or fabric belt is more comfortable worn high. Belt loops are helpful to keep the belt in place, or add a bit of double stick tape to the inside of the belt to keep the high belt in place. Just be sure the fabric you’re adhering the tape to isn’t fragile, like some silks can be.

How and why to wear a high waist belt:

  • To accent the bust
  • To lengthen legs paired with a flirty, loose or A-line dress
  • The latest Japanese style Obi belts are great touches to try for this look. They’re also the most comfortable, thanks to a little stretch
  • Michelle Obama is a big fan of wearing a high waisted belt


What Belt Looks Best by Body Type

Are you ready to rock a belt yet? Here’s more advice on what type of belt to select, according to body type:

If You’re Tall and Straight

  • Wide belts create the illusion of hips and curves
  • Lower skinny belts add to hip volume
  • Try high contrast by using a belt in a different color or a patterned belt


How to wear a belt if you’re Petite

  • Match the belt color to the pants or skirt to lengthen the legs
  • Select a thin or medium belt so it doesn’t overpower your frame
  • Hip belts hide if you’re short-waisted or to create the illusion of being curvier than you are



How to Wear a Belt if You’re Curvy

If you’re curvy, you’re lucky! Of all the body shapes, you can create the most impact with a belt. Show off your sexy, feminine figure by selecting:

  • Belts with stretch that cinch the waist and define your silhouette
  • Belts in dark colors to visually slim your figure
  • Wear belts at the narrowest part of your waist to create an hourglass figure
  • When sporting a wide, high belt, keep the belt 2 inches lower than your bustline if you’re busty

How to wear a bet |

Belt Types

With the variety of belts including leather, elastic, woven or a combo of all, as long as you’re conscious of what belt is most flattering on you, wear any style or color. Belts with some elastic are comfortable because they cinch your waist while still managing to move with you.

How to wear a belt –  Takeaways

Try different belts with a variety of outfits to find your signature look. The latest trends involve knotting a belt in a unique way, choosing metallics, or wearing a high contrast belt in a complementary color.

max-metallic belt |

See a belt as a great accessory to accentuate your shape in ways that other accessories can’t. It’s okay to take risks with bold belts, in the end, whether you wear a belt for fashion or function, you can’t go wrong.

Have fun accessorizing — belts create a look that’s one of a kind, just like you.

Do you know how to wear a belt correctly? Tell us, what’s your favorite way to wear a belt?


{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Patti

Love those Obi belts!


2 Cynthia Bowman

Hi Patti,
Obi belts are comfortable and chic. Anything that can mix those two elements is a winner in my book!


3 Sheela Goh

Is it odd if I say I don’t own a single belt? And that all the belts which have made appearances on my blog were borrowed? I’ve never felt very comfortable with defining my waist (sorry, Stacy and Clinton) but I must say those worn by Mrs Obama, as well as those high-waisted and obi numbers are quite delicious-looking. I just purchased one so fingers crossed I shan’t commit (too many) fashion sins.


4 Cynthia Bowman

Hi Sheela,
It took me a while to add belts to my look, too. I’m sure you’ll look great, it’s all about self-expression, after all– who would have thought that wearing a belt at the ribcage would be fashionable? And yet, Michelle Obama does precisely that and looks fabulous!


5 Greetje

Hi Cynthia, this is a very helpful post. I think you explained everything very well. Like Sheela Goh I keep forgetting belts. but unlike her, I do own quite a few belts and good ones too. Still, when creating an outfit I keep forgetting them. Or I feel wearing a necklace (which I do almost all the time) and a belt is too much. But most of the time, I just forget. So thanks for reminding me of this great styling item.


6 Lisa M

I haven’t found a belt that looks good on me. I am hourglass (and more full-figured than I used to be) so you would think that it’s easy, but I also have a very short upper body (Seriously, I don’t think I could wear an obi-style belt that is both two inches below my bust AND above my waist — there just isn’t room) and long lower body, and belts emphasize my vertical form. It’s Sylvia’s fault. I used to just look at myself in the mirror and the belt looked good around my waist. But then our New Years’ challenge last year made me decide to take some pictures — and I realized how out of proportion they made me look. Hip level belts would be the vertical solution, but they don’t hit me at my best spot. Yep, I’m a mess.


7 Carol

I’m 5’4″ and reasonably well proportioned:) I love (and wear well) the look of a long thin twisted rope belt (with small tassels) wound loosely and knotted around the waist of a knit dress or tunic. Can anyone tell me where to find such a belt? I own a silky black one that came from a Spiegel catalog, but it’s long past its prime. I’ve actually considered converting a set of drapery tie backs, but they tend to be too short.


8 Greetje

I wanted to say: “Carol, if you find one, give me a shout too”. But then I went through the post again and saw that your type of belts is not for tall, straight people like me haha. You can love something but that doesn’t mean it suits you (in my case).


9 Kathia

Hello Carol! I think I can help you with that. Have you looked at ADA Collection? I love her belts! and I’m almost sure she has those twisted rope belts with tassels you’re looking for and they’re also one size so prob will fit you well. Her website is
Hope I could help!


10 esther

I love belts! My hourglass shape allows me to wear them often they always give my outfit a finishing touch. I love to find vintage leather belts and special embellishments for nighttime. Thanks for your post very informative.



11 Cynthia Bowman

Hi Esther, glad to hear you’re on board with belts. They really are a useful and beautiful accessory.


12 elle

Belts are back on my radar. During a closet cleaning frenzy I threw out perfect belt I had stopped wearing. Grrr!


13 Ans

How to wear a belt if you have a muffin top waistline?


14 Sylvia

You can belt higher (above your tummy) or you may want to forfeit the belt and use one of my belly hiding strategies


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