How to Choose a Belt


Which belt to choose

Hi Imogen, I need some guidelines on belts as I’d like to add some to my wardrobe but not sure if belt width should somehow relate to waist size, body shape/proportion or is it dependent on the outfit??  Thanks!


There are a few factors that influence your choice of belts and I’m going to be showing you here just a few of them.

Yes body shape and proportions matter.  The longer your torso, the easier it is to wear a belt, a short torso means there is less space for a belt.

A defined waist (such as an A, X or 8 Shape) find it easier to wear a belt than those with a straighter or undefined waist (H, V and O shapes).

How loose your clothing is, does it blouse or is it fitted?  This is another factor to consider.  In the following photos I’ll be sharing some tips on choosing belts for your outfits.

Belting skirts

belting skirts

As you can see here, a straight skirt can be belted with either a thin or wide belt.    If you have a large bust I would avoid the wide belt as it will make your bust further pronounced.  A thin belt that is worn with a more fitted or pencil skirt with a top that blouses (if you don’t have a defined waist) is a great way to add detail but not too obvious a horizontal line.

If you have a defined waist and average or smaller bust, a wide belt can really highlight this lovely feature.

Belting dresses

Choosing Belts

This straighter shift style dress looks better with a wider, curved belt on me as the thin straight belt just highlights my lack of defined waist.  The wider belt allows a portion of the dress to blouse over the top and the curved shape creates more of an illusion of a waist.

Belting jeans

belting jeans

Jeans can be easily belted, either through the belt loops with a shirt that blouses if you don’t have a defined waist (or even with a fitted top if you do have a defined waist).

Alternatively you can wear a wide curved hip belt over the top of the jeans, ideally in a colour that blends with either your top or bottom.  This can help hide a muffin top (if you have one) as it disguises the point where the jeans waistband may be a little tight (to hold the jeans up of course!).

Waist Belting

waist belting

As an H shape with an undefined waist, I find waist belting works best with a wider belt but only with garments that are more fluid and voluminous (but never chunky).  Ideally you need to have fairly even proportions (rather than being short waisted) as a wide belt will shorten down the visual length of your waist proportion.  It’s ideal if you have a long waist as it can create some balance.

Match or Mismatch the Colour

self coloured belt

Self coloured or Alternate colour?  A self-coloured belt will not draw attention to itself in the way an alternate colour of belt will.   Self-coloured to your top will make your upper body appear longer.  Self-coloured to your bottom will elongate your rise and leg proportion.  Decide which you prefer based on:

  1. Body proportions – short legs, belt colour matches your skirt or trousers, long-legs belt colour matches your top colour.
  2. Bust size (if you have a large bust ideally self-colour to top as your large bust will most likely visually shorten your bust to waist proportion anyway).

Waist or Hip Belting

waist or hip belt

A hip belt will make your torso appear longer, but will also draw more attention to your hips.  If your hips are slimmer (H, V, I) then hip belting can be flattering. If your hips are broader (A, X) you may want to avoid hip belting so you don’t draw attention.

Under or Over Your Jacket?

If you don’t have a defined waist (O, H) then wearing a belt underneath your jacket will make your waist look slimmer as all you will see is a short horizontal line created by the belt.  Belting over a jacket will tend to broaden the appearance of your waist as we see the full extent of the horizontal line.

If you have a defined waist try belting over the top of your jacket. It may draw in any excess fabric and highlight your great feature.

Which Belt to Choose?

At the end of the day, you have to try on the outfit, try a bunch of belts in different widths and work out for your unique shape which you prefer.  You are most likely to find that thin belts work better with some outfits for you and wide belts for others.   Belts can add a nice finishing touch, pop of colour, interest and detail if they work for you.

Weekly Outfit Planner (1)


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  • Good post about belts. I’m always torn about what belt to wear so seldom wear them but have several outfits that would benefit from them. This helps me know what to choose. Thank you.

  • Very good tips on belts. I usually choose them just by color and this gives me new ideas. I was just organizing my belts last night and was awed at the amount… over 40.

  • How do I wear a belt, which is ideal for an “8” if I also have a short torso? They always seem to make my hips large, and my smaller waist also large!

    • You may find that you prefer a belt under a jacket or cardigan. Also you may find for different garments – skirt and top vs dress that different rules and widths apply. It’s really all about trying different options out for your unique body. These are some tips on the possibilities not a list of rules, and of course, you may prefer not to belt at all!

  • The best 101 on choosing belts well rationalized !
    Imogen I adore your style and fashion sense so much so,I just want to say .The straight spare black printed shift dress with the thin belt on, looks so BEAUTIFUL ON YOU !
    here’s why and what I noticed…..
    1.You look slimmer and balanced to my eyes with the thin black belt,it played fair with the prints and elongated your lower half creating an illusion of a longer waist line, than the wide belt that makes me feel you are cut into half and make me feel you boxy on the other hand
    2.(Picture with on the left hand side with wide belt)
    The left hand side black print on the shift dress adds bulk along with the wide belt and make me feel you have a short waist,in-spite of the blousing.
    3..The bracelet your wore on both your arms broadens the straightness of the dress at the lower half .
    4.The rutching seen below waist due to belting creates more balance in your body compared to the wide belt in my perspective.

    Please confront me why you felt the wide black belt looks better on you, I want to learn your perspective.

    Tintu Albin

  • Hmmm. So if I have a short waist, big boobs, and a long rise… it’s hard for me to figure out what I’d be looking for in a belt. Maybe a belt worn on the hip to shorten my rise? Certainly, I think I’d look better with a belt under a jacket or with no jacket at all.
    I’m not sure about self coloring to too or bottom. Also, since I’m shortish-waisted, I think a medium thickness or narrower belt would be best for me, vs a wide belt. ( I would possibly wear a wide belt over the top of jeans to create a leggier look but it might just emphasize my long rise.)

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