Until recently I suffered from belt phobia. I avoided wearing belts with my outfits because I was convinced that I didn’t have the “right” figure for them and that I couldn’t pull of the look. The only thing I used belts for was to loop through my trousers to hold them up. The statement belt, the low-slung belt, the cinched in waist belt – well, I loved the look on others but just never knew quite where to start on myself. But recently I had one of those moments of style revelation which, I’m glad to say, can still occur even at an age when I think I’ve got my “look” completely sorted out. So, I was meeting with one of our lovely wholesale customers at a recent trade fair in NZ (very stylish bunch, those New Zealand ladies!) and she arrived wearing our new season Liezel top with a smart denim skirt, a cute pair of ankle boots, a bunch of jangly bangles, and something that just brought the whole outfit together and gave it a lovely boho freshness – a plaited belt, worn slightly low slung over her hips, and the top casually bloused out over the leather. Because I was so busy admiring her outfit and thinking, “hang on, I could totally do that”, I forgot to take a pic of her. But I’ve tried to recreate the vibe a bit here so you get the idea.

When I got home, I had a play around with some of new season tops and dresses and some old favourites to see if I could confront my belt phobia head on. And with a bit of experimenting, I think I might just be a new convert. A few things I figured out along the way which might help others suffering from belt anxiety:

Why should I wear a belt?

It’s not that you should wear one, it’s just that they are such an easy and fun way to add an interesting element to an outfit or bring together a look or emphasise a favourite feature. I wear heaps of Kaja clothes (obviously) and I like that I can wear one of our soft, loose shirts as it is or change the look of it entirely by knotting a belt around my hips or cinching it in at the waist. One top – 3 great options. Voila!

Cinched or low slung?

Up to you. Consult google and you’ll find a multitude or “rules” for belt wearing. But as always, I find that the best thing to do is to experiment and play with your look and decide what works best for you. Those of you who are lucky to have a defined waist can really get the most out of a belt worn right on the waist. For many of us, a little below the waist is the sweet spot and just about everyone can do the low-slung look. I think probably the only real no-no is creating a double waist – i.e. don’t wear a belt on your hips with a dress or top that is already waisted!

Layer up

You know that I’m already a big fan of the layered look and I love how a belt can add a great textural dimension to layers. If you’re still feeling worried about the effect a belt has on your midriff, pop a lovely cardy or sleeveless vest over the outfit and you get all the impact with none of the worry about bumps and lumps. Or, for a fresh trans-seasonal look, tie the belt over the outer layer.

 Get creative

We love woven leather and raffia belts for summer – they are the perfect accompaniment to some boho lace and floaty cotton. But it’s fun to experiment with beads, ribbons, and scarves also – if you can tie it around your waist then you can use it as a belt! When it comes to colour and print, try a high contrast belt for glam and drama or go tonal for a softer look.

So whether you're going for vava voom or casual elegance, boho chic or everyday ease, I say look your belt phobia in the eye (or the waist as the case may be!) and start belting up for Spring!

September 09, 2015 by Helene Pilhage

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