Don't be afraid to put a belt on it: Your Personal Stylist, Special to The Oregonian

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The belt, it’s an accessory that women are terrified to try and for good reason. If you wear the wrong belt in the wrong way, it’s going to look and feel, wrong. But the belt can be magic if you wear the right belt, the right way, skimming visual pounds off your frame and sculpting shape and contour where you may have none. Here are some tips on which belt will work for you and how you can wear it.




The skinny belt is the primadonna of the belt family. It doesn’t have the strength to hold anything up so it’s main purpose is to just sit and look pretty. But where it sits is important.

There are two places to wear a skinny belt. First is as an accent, worn through any belt loops located on your garment. Cinch the belt so it sits in the center of the loop. You don’t want it too tight or drooping too loose within the belt loops.

Because the skinny belt’s sole purpose is to draw attention, make sure the attention is going where you want it like the tiny of your waist. This is the second best place to wear your skinny belt.

Whether you wear it over a lightweight cardigan, blazer or just at the waist of your dress or skirt line, make sure you aren’t strangling yourself. The belt should be cinched so it sits nicely at the tiny of your waist without bunching any of the fabric. Careful too that it’s not too loose and dropping forward or floppy around either.

Not everyone should rock a skinny belt. If you have no waist and consider yourself boxy, wearing a skinny belt can actually exploit and draw attention to this lack of shape. The exception to this rule is if you wear a skinny belt with a piece of clothing that HAS shape and creates shape on your frame like an A-line skirt or peplum blazer. In this case you’ll want to wear your belt at the tiny of your garment.

Avoid accent belts worn at the waist all together if you have a short waist. Aren’t sure if you have a short waist? Check the space from under your rib cage to the top of your hipbone. If you can fit less than three fingers between, you most likely have a short waist and should avoid visually cutting up your torso with a belt worn at your waist. Never fear, there is a style of belt that’s perfect for you.



The drop or slouchy belt is perfect for someone who has a short waist because the visual line of the belt drops down allowing the torso to look longer. The angle of this style also helps compliment women with natural contour to their waist but also creates visual shape for someone who lacks it.

A slouchy belt has a very distinct shape. If you open up a slouchy belt you’ll notice that it’s curved. This is the correct cut because the curve allows the belt to sit perfectly on your body.

You want your slouchy belt to sit high on your hips and the sway of your back (the curve at your lower back) and then drop forward on your abdomen falling below your belly button.

This style of belt looks best with longer tops, tunics and dresses. The slouchy belt can compliment very fitted dresses as well as give shape to silhouettes that have little to no shape.

You’ll want to avoid the slouchy belt if you have a long body and shorter legs. In this case you’ll want to choose a belt that draws the eye up and visually breaks up your long torso like a wrap or wide belt.


The wide belt is a statement maker. If you’re looking for a little drama for your outfit, the wide belt can do just that. This style of belt looks and feels best if it has a little elastic stretch to it. That way it can really hug your shape while allowing you to sit and bend with ease. Comfort is very stylish.

It’s important when you’re shopping for this style of belt that your find the right fit. It should fit snug but you don’t want it to creep and crawl up when you move around. Try sitting down and bending over to make sure your wide belt is staying put. It should also sit not higher than three fingers below your bra line to ensure you aren’t making yourself look short waisted, when you’re not.

The wide belt looks great over drapey cardigans and at the small of your waist in any dress or blouse and skirt combo where you want attention drawn to the waistline.

This style of belt is perfect if you have an average to long torso with definite contour and shape otherwise known as an hourglass.


The wrap belt is an anomaly. It’s considered a wide belt, which you now know isn’t great for straight or boxy body types. However the way a wrap belt wraps from wide to narrow, it actually creates shape and contour in a waist that has none. Making it perfect for any body type except those short waisted individuals, sorry!

This style can be a little high maintenance with it’s wrapping but it’s so modern and contemporary and can look stylish over a drapey sweater for the weekend or at the waist of a beautiful blouse and pencil skirt for work.

You want this style of belt to mold to your body so make sure you’re choosing soft fabrics and leathers and avoid the stiff and too structured styles that be unflattering. You want to wear your belt, not have your belt wear you.

Okay, one for the boys next. Layering done right so you don’t resemble Santa Claus this winter.