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How to wear belts: 5 guidelines for the belt-challenged

By Aramide Esubi, Tribune Content Agency on

Wearing any kind of belt can be difficult, especially when you're shy about drawing attention to your waistline. On the other hand, belts are fun and useful accessories that have the potential to add a whole new dimension to your wardrobe. They can add extra polish to an outfit, define the waistline as needed, provide textural interest and even add a bit of edge.

Styling belts effectively over tops, blazers and dresses is a marriage between the style/ color/position of the belt and the style of the top/blazer/dress. That's a lot of variables! So, it's hard to cover all belt solutions for all body types. Even if I took you shopping, I'd end up experimenting right there with you in the store because there are few tried and true rules in this area.

But there are a few loose guidelines that might help you to get started on your own. In some instances you'll apply many of these guidelines to one outfit, and in others you'll only apply one or two.

1. Find your sweet spot.

Position is important. Sometimes your sweet spot will be a little higher than your natural waistline and sometimes a little lower. When you have a regular bust size and are carrying a little extra around the midriff, positioning a belt just above the waistline is usually the sweet spot. When you're short-waisted and well endowed, positioning a belt lower than the waistline in front and at waist level in the back is often the solution. If you have a long waist, wearing a belt high on the natural waist is usually most effective.

2. Think about contrast.

Once you've found your sweet spot, you have a choice between making the belt contrast or blend in with your outfit. A low contrast belt is usually best for waistlines that aren't that defined, giving you a flattering long, lean line, whereas a high contrast belt automatically draws more attention to the waistline.

3. Pick a width.

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Sometimes a wider elasticized belt worn a little above your midriff looks best. Sometimes positioning it right onto the midriff does the girdling trick. With a straight, undefined waistline, a narrower belt positioned a little lower in front can work really well. Long-waisted ladies can usually wear extra wide belts, and short-waisted ladies tend to look better in narrower or skinny belts.

4. Know that wovens work wonders.

So, you're happy with how you look in a belt and it's all sorted. But your confidence falls to pieces when you sit down because those extra midriff bits start spilling both over and underneath the belt. Enter the magical effects of woven tops and dresses that don't cling like knits, but glide over curves adding structure in the right places. Wovens can either be rigid like shirt fabric, or soft and draping like silk and rayon blends. Both work equally well.

5. Remember that elastic is your friend.

Where possible, choose belts that are part elastic because you can't beat the comfort. They'll stretch with your body during the day.

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(Whether she's dishing out advice on how to wear the latest trends or putting fun looks together, fashion writer and stylist Aramide Esubi is always on the move keeping up with the latest in fashion. Email her at thesassypeach@gmail.com, or follow her on Instagram at instagram.com/thesassypeach.)

Copyright Tribune Content Agency LLC

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