How To Wear A Belt

How To Wear A Belt

There’s a reason why professional wrestlers smash each other with chairs, endure brutal cage matches, and drive their opponents through barbwire-wrapped light bulbs – the glory that comes from hoisting a championship belt above your head.

I’d love to tell you how to style the prestigious WWE Intercontinental Championship belt, but you need to walk before you can run. How can we expect you to wear a belt like that if you don’t even know how to wear a belt made out of shoestring?

Belts are one of the most essential accessories and they’re one that people either dismiss or are clueless about styling. Thankfully, I’m here to provide you with some ideas about how to wear a belt. 

I’ll tackle the issue from a few different angles, like covering when you should wear a belt, what you should look for in a belt, things to avoid with a belt, and more.

You’ll also enjoy my guide on how to wear a belt if you’re interested in exploring any of these associated topics:

  • how to wear a lifting belt 
  • how to wear a belt with a dress 
  • how to wear a belt bag
  • how to wear a dance belt
  • how to wear a Gucci belt

What Is A Belt

How To Wear A Belt

There was once a simpler time, before the television and certainly before people had much creativity in the fashion industry when belts were purely functional. Their role was to hold up your pants so that you didn’t trip over them. 

Thankfully, we’ve evolved as a society and, alongside advancements in subsidized housing and affordable health care, we’ve come around to see that belts are more than just perfunctory apparatuses. 

These days, pants come with drawstrings, adjustable waistlines, and other nifty features that help them stand up on their own.

That doesn’t mean belts are antiquated. Quite the opposite, actually. Since they have more freedom, belts can be as loud or as quiet as you like. 

They can do much more than just hold up your trousers, such as adding necessary wrinkles to your outfit, pairing with other accessories, or being statement pieces themselves. 

History Of Belts

How to wear A Belt

Belts have been a fixture of humanity since we started wearing clothes. Anthropologists have evidence that people were figuring out how to wear a belt as far back as the Bronze Age

However, not much happened between then and modern times in terms of belt development, so we’re going to jump a few centuries to the 19th century.

During that time, Eastern European soldiers frequently wore belts to support their pants as a way to hold their weapons.

It wasn’t until the roaring 20s that belts actually became a staple item in the average man’s wardrobe. In fact, before then, most pants didn’t even have belt loops.

This is partly because pants as a whole were designed to rest below the hips, meaning that they required more support. 

Belts gained a more prominent place in conventional fashion as the decades continued to meet shifting waistlines. High-waisted trousers for women required belts just as much as low-hanging work pants for men.

Speaking of low-hanging, belts became nearly essential when fashion trends erred deeply into relaxed waters as the 20th century came to a close. 

Baggy pants were all the rage and many people started wearing them even lower than their pelvises, meaning that they needed some way to keep their pants above their knees unless they wanted to waddle like a duck.

Given the rich history of the belts, today’s designers have plenty of space to express themselves. They can draw from the leather and spikes looks of the 1980s heavy metal explosion if they want to create an edgier belt. 

Conversely, they can pull from runway trends for people who want to know how to wear a Gucci belt, for example. 

All of this is to say that belts have more flexibility in appearance and purpose than they ever have in human history.

When To Wear A Belt

How to wear A Belt

If only it was easy to say that you should only wear a belt when you want to keep your pants up. However, as we just touched on, there are various ways to think about how to wear a belt, and that necessitates plenty of occasions as to when you can wear a belt.

Some people say that an outfit isn’t complete unless it includes a belt, and a portion of us are inclined to agree. They are integral when it comes to formal men’s wear (i.e. suits, tuxedos, etc.). 

They’re also synonymous with jeans because they solve the issue that many people face: whether to have your jeans fit your waist or fit your legs.

For women, they can wear belts if they have high-waisted pants that would otherwise drape. Another great time to wear a belt is when you want to wear a dress and wish to add a little flair

How To Wear A Belt

How to wear A Belt

We’ve provided some solid tangible examples on how to wear a belt just below this section, but there are a few tidbits we’d like to provide beforehand.

If you want a belt to do its job (i.e. hold up your pants) then make sure you can comfortably wear it around your waist. You shouldn’t feel constricted by your belt, nor should it be too long that it dangles down from your belt loops.

If either of those issues crop up, then we advise you to punch more holes into your belt. That way, you’ll have more flexibility with regard to how tight you want your belt to be.

On the subject of alterations, you can cut material off of a leather belt if you think it’s too long for you. 

This won’t work for seatbelt belts or chain belts, but it’s a great way to make a leather belt your own.

4 Outfit Ideas With A Belt

How to wear A Belt

We’ve included this outfit that sometimes belts surpass their ability to hold your pants up to become statement pieces. It’s hard to imagine this look being quite as interesting if the model wasn’t wearing a chain belt.

By themselves, the other pieces are pretty relaxed. There are no attention grabbers here, not that that’s a bad thing, but this outfit needs a little heat.

That’s where the chain belt comes in. it’s a little edgy, a little dangerous, but that’s what makes it such an interesting choice.

You can go even further and wear a huge chain belt, but we’d recommend sticking with a thin belt like the one in the photo. 

As I said, the other garments are about as loud as nap time at a senior center, so you need to be careful that you don’t overpower them. Wearing simple colors and shapes gives you more leeway to experiment with a radical belt, but don’t go overboard.

How to wear A Belt

One of our favorite strategies when thinking about how to wear a belt is to think about what a belt can do besides hold up our pants.

Belts are great at breaking up uniform outfits and tailoring clothes that might otherwise not fit as well as we’d like.

Case in point, this outfit. It shows how to wear a belt with a dress. Clever readers, such as yourself, probably know that most dresses don’t need belts because there’s nothing to hold up. 

Cleverer readers will see that the belt’s purpose isn’t to hold up the bottom end of the dress but to bisect the dress.

By cleaving a line between your body, you can add more shape to your body that the dress might otherwise hide. We particularly enjoy how this model wore the belt higher on her torso. This allows her natural curves to come through and has a fashion-forward style.

How to wear A Belt

Allow us to indulge our inner gym bro with this variation on how to wear a belt. Lifting belts are the epitome of purpose over pleasing appearance

Come on, look at this thick slab of leather, nylon, and clamps. It’s as if someone looked at corsets and thought, “what if these could help you squat 600 pounds?”

Sadly, many people still scratch their heads and wonder how to wear a lifting belt in a fashionable way. 

Our advice? Purchase a minimal lifting belt – black or brown ones work best, though we do enjoy the red in this example – so wear clothes that support your functioning.

Whether that’s tights, a sweater, or a full squat suit, you want to wear clothes that you are comfortable to move large loads in.

You’ll never wear a lifting belt out on the street, and that’s not what it’s made for. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use it and project the image of a dedicated lifter, which you probably already are if you already have a lifting belt. 

Just be smart about wearing clothes that easily match each other (neutral colors, of course!) and focus on moving the bar.

How to wear A Belt

There’s a lot to unpack with this outfit. We’ll start with the most important lesson you can pick up from it; how to wear a dance belt. In short, you want to hide it amongst your other pieces. 

Selecting a black dance belt is smart because then it blends in with your outfit while poking out from your waistline for a less conventional style.

If you want to double down on that style then implement a bright crop top like the performer in the photo. The dance belt sits higher on his hips so the crop top actually has the freedom to rise higher without looking off-balance.

Next, we want to talk about the actual belt in this photo. Checkered black and white belts can bring back flashbacks to Hot Topic and Panic! At The Disco concerts.

Some people may scoff at those connections, but we actually like their mid-aughts flair when it’s done correctly.

That’s certainly the case with this outfit because everything else, the distressed denim and the other aforementioned pieces, already have a youthful vibe.

As such, the checkered belt is the cherry on top of this fashion sundae that harkens back to a time when guyliner and skinny jeans were in.

What Type Of Belt Outfits Can You Get?

How to wear A Belt

Besides the standard leather belt, there are a plethora of other options. We’re talking about garter belts, chain belts, studded belts, seatbelts belts, and more. They’re all less versatile than a regular leather belt but they have more pizzaz, so there’s a trade-off.

How To Choose The Best Belt Outfit

How to wear A Belt

Nearly everyone already has one belt, and it’s usually either black or brown. If that’s you then congrats, almost every outfit you pick will be a hit. You can’t go wrong with a belt in either color.

Beyond that, there are some other considerations to account for when it comes to choosing the best belt:

  1. How much do you want to spend on a belt
  2. What material is the belt made out of
  3. Which company is making the belt
  4. Is the belt more functional or fashionable
  5. What style of belt do you want
  6. How large is the belt
  7. What color is the belt

These are all factors that can modify how a belt interacts with the rest of your outfit. 

How To Style Belt Outfits 

How to wear A Belt

The easiest way to style a belt is to match it to another part of your outfit. You’d usually want to pair it with another accessory like a watch or your shoes, but you can even match it to your shirt or pants. 

This is especially useful if you’re wearing a less conventional belt. You might want to show off your nifty belt buckle or its interesting design, but these can look out of place if not coordinated with the rest of your outfit.

We also recommend pairing thinner belts with busier outfits and thicker belts with more minimal looks.

That way, the belts won’t dominate the outfit and make you look either too flashy or too boring. They’ll have the space to be themselves without impacting the rest of your style.

Fashion Tips To Avoid With A Belt 

How to wear A Belt

In formal settings, it’s absolutely imperative that you match your shoes with your belt. Not coordinating them will make you stick out like a sore thumb.

That piece of advice actually brings up another thing to avoid, one that’s potentially more important; stay away from bright-colored belts.

We all miss the days when Metro Station stormed the charts, but neon belts hardly ever look good. They mostly look cheap and tacky. As a whole, we advise you to avoid belts that aren’t black, white, or brown.

How To Take Care Of A Belt 

How to wear A Belt

Belt maintenance might be one of the simplest aspects of fashion. There’s little in the way of care that you need to do with your belt besides not treating it like dirt. 

Don’t put it in the washing machine (especially if it’s leather), hang it in your closet, and keep an eye on it for damages or stretches.

We recommended earlier that you add a few extra holes to your belt so that you can preserve the item’s longevity. Belts typically last their longest when they fit you best.

Adding a few more holes can reduce how much it has to stretch around you, thus reducing the risk of tears.

If you do damage your belt then you should take it to a tailor. You can try to DIY repair, but leather can be notoriously difficult to work with, and tailors are cheap, so we think that you should leave this one to the professionals. 

Best Places To Buy A Belt 

How to wear A Belt

Belts aren’t something you want to purchase for cheap. Yes, they may save you some money upfront, but they’re more liable to endure stress and damage than slightly pricier belts. Your wallet and your waist will thank you down the line.

As such, we recommend that you head to a department store like Nordstrom if you want a new, high-quality belt. If that’s not your jam then you can rummage around your local thrift store.

We can’t guarantee that you’ll find something of equal quality, but there’s always buried treasure in those stores.

Final Thoughts

How to wear A Belt

If your outfit is the burger then a belt is the salt and pepper. You’ll notice when it’s not there, but you won’t know exactly what’s missing.

Conversely, when it’s present, the burger will taste that much juicier without you needing to drown it in sauce.Did we go a bit far with that allusion?

Possibly, but the point is that learning how to wear a belt is about allowing it to provide your look with a little extra oomph that’s subtle yet oh so stylish. Whether or not you want to add pickles is up to you.


Looking to up your fashion game? We’ve got you covered:

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