Must-have Spring Accessory: The Belt
Updating your spring and summer wardrobe is a cinch this year. All it takes are a few well-chosen belts. If the statement necklace was last year’s must-have fashion accessory, the bold belt is 2012’s style essential. From skinny, neon waist-nippers to embellished corset-like hip-huggers, the belt was everywhere on the spring runways.
Embracing the belt can add shape and chic to the most humdrum outfit, says Phoenix stylist Fawn Cheng. “You can refresh a tired dress or an oversized top by cinching it with a brightly colored belt,” she says. The smocked tee that feels about as sexy as a tablecloth? The boho peasant blouse you wore to death last summer and now seems as fresh as expired milk? “They’re both scorning to be tuned into new silhouettes with an eye-catching belt,” says Cheng.
Belts are also crafty accessories when it comes to flattering your figure. If you’re short-waisted, sporting a low-slung belt will create the illusion of an elongated torso. Try a chain-link version for a modern look. Long-waisted? Balance out your proportions with a wide belt worn at your waist.
Here are four belts you’ll want to add to your warm-weather wardrobe:
1. Glitzy. Skinny or wide, elasticized or leather, the statement belt of the season features a bold medallion buckle in plated or hammered gold, silver or brass. Cheng likes to see the wide version worn high on the waist -- right under the rib cage -- to add edgy glamour to a body-conscious dress. Or put a slimmer medallion belt through the loops of your flared jeans or trousers for understated elegance. The Italian designer Balmain offers a half dozen takes on this signature piece, ranging from $800 to more than $3,000. You can find stylish alternatives at stores like Urban Outfitters and Zara for a tiny fraction of that price.
2. Colorful. “Shocking sorbet” is what Cheng has dubbed this season’s collection of belts in vivid hues -- fuchsia, tangerine, baby blue, coral and chartreuse. They’re the perfect way to introduce color into a neutral or all-white outfit. Or, to update a preppy look, consider a neo-neon combination like a carnation pink cardigan punctuated with a lime green patent-leather belt.
3. Safari-inspired. For spring, Michael Kors showed his version of what a chic woman might wear while enjoying cocktails at a luxe gaming lodge. Models strutted down the runway in animal and camouflage prints -- and utilitarian colors like khaki, olive and brown -- all in supple fabrics. The standout accessory was his fashion-forward interpretation of the frumpy fanny pack: a gorgeous burnished leather strap slung twice around the waist -- once through the belt loops and then just below -- tied on one end and with a small leather purse on the other. The purse-belt is perfect for hands-free toting of your essentials. Ralph Lauren, Diane von Furstenberg, Fendi, Hermes and Yves Saint Laurent are all offering their luxe take on the belt bag. You can also find affordable versions from LeSportsac and, of course, Michael Kors.
4. Corset. Thick, waist-cinching belts show off a woman’s ladylike curves. They’re an edgy match -- especially in metallic -- for the peplum skirt you’ll be wearing this spring and summer. You’ll also find casually playful versions in more forgiving woven leather. These look smashing with a traditional trench, a structured jacket, or high-waisted trousers and a white shirt. Corset belts might be a fleeting trend, so you probably don’t want to make this an investment piece. Instead, have a fling with an inexpensive option from a store like Forever 21 or Anthropologie.
Photo: Getty Images
Shelley Levitt, managing editor of The Style Glossy, is a former West Coast editor of Self and senior writer at People.