8 Ways to Wear a Belt to Easily Upgrade Your Look

Accessories can work wonders in taking a look from boring to beautiful and from uninspired to unforgettable. Maybe shoes are your go-to fashion accessory fix, or perhaps jewelry is your thing. However, belts can be highly overlooked in women’s fashion.

This little add-on packs a big punch when it comes to elevating your style while also slimming your silhouette into a flattering hourglass. Plus, it’s literally a cinch to add this waist-defining extra to a number of looks to instantly up the chic factor.

And don’t think you always have to belt one on in the traditional manner, i.e. with the belt loops and punched holes. Try looping the tail end of a woven or soft leather belt across the buckle and tuck it behind the belt, or just tie each end into a knot and pull it tight. With these ideas in mind, here are eight innovative ways to wear a belt. You’ll never want to go without one again.

1. With an oversized sweater or cardigan

A model walks the runway wearing Desigual Fall 2016 during New York Fashion Week
Give your cozy sweater a little more shape. | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Oversized pieces are en vogue in a big way — no pun intended. But they can often leave a little to be desired when it comes to flattering your frame. Don’t drown in those nubby knits; instead, throw on a belt and bring your natural waist out of hiding. The same goes for thick, textured cardigans that are awesome at keeping you warm and less awesome at flattering your shape. A skinny belt removes the boxiness. And don’t be afraid to choose one in a pattern or an eye-popping color to enliven any dull, neutral sweater shades.

2. Under a puffer coat

A model walks the runway at the Zalando fashion show
Yes, a puffer jacket can look chic. | Sebastian Reuter/Getty Images

Leave the Michelin Man behind and add some beautiful structure to that bulky puffer coat by adding a belt to your look. Keep the coat unzipped and put a statement belt around your pants or jeans.

3. Over a jacket or blazer

beautiful elegant woman wearing a coat jacket and sunglasses in city
Try belting your jacket. | iStock.com/Rohappy

If you have a statement-making, lighter-weight jacket you want to show off and don’t necessarily want to remove once you come inside, a belt can make that outerwear piece the main attraction. A double-wide belt or obi-style belt can be ideal in this case, as the coat virtually becomes a dress as a result. The same goes for a blazer; belt your favorite blazer and wear it over a skirt or jeans and instantly look like you’re wearing a new piece in your wardrobe.

4. Paired with prints and patterns

Model Alek Wek attends Tina Brown's 7th Annual Women In The World Summit Opening Night
Model Alek Wek shows off this look. | Jemal Countess/Getty Images

A trend that has become nothing short of a style mainstay is the fashionable mixing of prints. A geometric top or fitted sweater looks brilliant against an embroidered or lace skirt, and the same goes for pinstripe pants and a mini-dot blouse. But the combinations truly are endless. That being said, a belt is a strategic way to visually separate the top from the bottom, adding some definition and structure to all that pattern play.

5. On top of a suit

Fashion model girl in black running in studio
Add a belt to a standard suit for some added flair. | iStock.com/Gromovataya

The chicest way you can change the look of a suit, taking it from business-meeting traditional to cocktail-party posh, is with a belt. Simply belt the outside of the jacket with a skinny black belt, and bam, you’ve a whole new ensemble that’s extra slimming, too. And if you’re feeling particularly frisky, wear the blazer without a top underneath for a dramatic, plunging neckline.

6. Around a long skirt

Singer Nina Pastori attends the 2016 Latin GRAMMY's Person Of The Year
A belt keeps a flowy dress from overwhelming your frame. | Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images

Long maxi skirts are lovely but may fall on your loathing list simply by virtue of their challenging shape. While they can be overpowering, wrapping a belt around the waist of the skirt can easily remedy the problem. The accessory emphasizes your waist and keeps your figure from getting lost in the sea of fabric below.

7. Over a loose dress

Beautiful young brunette in a black dress
Give your dress a little more structure with a belt. | iStock.com/Kuzmichstudio

We know what you’re thinking — a belt over a dress, or even a gown? Isn’t that far too casual? Maybe not. This particular look is a case-by-case basis, but belting a loose-fitting dress is a no-brainer. And the belt doesn’t necessarily have to sit high on your waist. Sling it down a bit lower to give a shapeless dress a cool, drop-waist silhouette. As for gowns, a flowing variation or one with voluminous layers can benefit from a sleek bit of structure that a belt can provide. There’s also the added bonus of highlighting your figure underneath all that looser draping.

8. Over a tight dress

elegant young lady in a black dress
Even tighter dresses look good with a belt. | iStock.com/jacoblund

A belt isn’t just your best friend when it comes to looser frocks — it can be just as important for bodycon and similarly slinky dresses. A wide, corset-inspired belt, or even a skinny belt, can make you more comfortable through the midsection area of that figure-fitting dress that may feel just a bit too snug and revealing on its own.