Belts are an accessory that can add interest and detail to your outfit. They can add definition or highlight your waist or hips (depending where you’re wearing them). But they can also draw an unflattering horizontal line (which is broadening as I’ve explained in the illusion of horizontal lines here) if you already have a broad torso.
On the whole, fabric tie belts are the wort offenders at making a waist look broader if you don’t naturally have a very small and tapered waist.
What to Wear Instead of a Fabric Tie Belt
You can see how the tie belt really doesn’t draw in the fabric to create a waist vs the wider elastic belt does help to draw in the cardigan and create a waist.
I’ve found that narrow belts aren’t as good at creating a waist on an H shape as compared to wider belts (at least 2.5″ or 6cm wide or wider).
Narrow belts work when the bottom is straight (like a pencil skirt) and the top is more voluminous (like a blouse).
Wide belts work much better over most other garments when cinching to create waist definition if you are an H or V, I or 8 Shape.
Tie belts that come with garments – on the whole, throw them out and replace them with another belt (plus, you can change the look up with different colour and styles of belts too!).
Get some more tips for belting when you don’t have a naturally defined waist here.
Belting when you have a short waist – tips here.
My guide on how to choose a belt.
Not sure your shape? Do my body shape calculator quiz here and get your free body shape bible full of tips to flatter your figure.
I so agree with you! I have tossed out so many tie belts on my cardigan sweaters! I try to always opt for a fun belt that cinches the waist! Good info!
Really, really good tips Imogen.
Throwing out tie belts is one of the smartest things I have read and if I may add – if these come with little thread loops to hold them in place, cut those out too. They usually force you to wear the belt at a certain height which may not coincide with your own real waist.
Absolutely – I should have mentioned that – cut off the belt loops too!
A very good post Imogen! I always feel “fat” when wearing a fabric belt and have therefore also discarded them. (I’m X-shape.)
Lorena, you are so right about the thread loops for the fabric belts too!
Imogen, you wrote “Wide belts work much better over most other garments when cinching to create waist definition if you are an H or V, I or 8 Shape.” How about X-shapes and wide belts? I love wide (7 – 10 cm) stretch belts with a fancy clasp. With more solid belts (leather) I can’t go that wide, since they poke into my rib cage and hip and become uncomfortable during the day and actually broadens my waist if they are too wide. The stretch belts sit snug and are so comfortable.
Thank you so much for such great and informative articles!
Xs can belt already easily (vs Hs and Vs and 8s often have shorter waists – thought not always so find belting more tricky). So Wide belts for everyone! (well almost 🙂 )
So true…my Autumn acquisition of a denim shirt dress looked dismal when belted with self tie belt, yet looks good AND feels good with a wider good quality belt.
Thank you for your informative articles.
Another pet dislike is ‘cheap’ buttons on garments. Seem forever cutting off & replacing buttons! But that’s for another day.
Definitely watch the belt loops, and the belts that come with my clothes seldom fit my 8 shape, too long. But don’t throw them all out, my cat loves my belts for playtime
I’m Lycia (pronouced LEE-see-uh). I’ve been following you for a long time from here in the San Francisco Bay area.
All the posts have been useful in helping me find what styling techniques work on my petite, curvy/busty body shape.
I get alot of compliments…
Thank you for all the great fashion advice, you’re the best!!
Thanks Lycia! So great you’re getting compliments!