Dress Belts vs. Casual

Actress Colette Wolfson uses a wide leather belt to give definition to her fab jumpsuit.

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

A belt can take a dress from baggy to fitted or make a pair of plain pants totally glam. Just like with your jewels, there are belts that are meant for casual afternoons, those that should be taken out on the town and even some that can be worn for either occasion. Don't get caught wearing the wrong belt at the wrong time. You could end up feeling like a major fashion faux pas.

Dressy Belts

Think of dressy belts as your statement belts. These are the belts with bling. The belts that love to be the star of an outfit. If you're not sure what that means, check your closet for fabulous bejeweled creations, belts with a stunner of a clasp or even studded or chain link beauties. If you put on this style of belt over a T-shirt or slip it through the belt loops of your jeans, you're guaranteed to feel over-dressed. A belt like this is meant for after hours. Use it to glitz up a little black dress or give definition to a plain silk romper.

Casual Belts

A casual belt is your go-to, day-to-day belt. The belt you trust to hold your jeans up. The belt that looks great around a simple summer frock. The belt you wish you had 10 of. Belts that fit into this category include gross-grain ribbon belts, woven leather belts and super simple, skinny leather belts. Western belts and belts with kitchy buckles also qualify as casual . If you're still in a conundrum, try one of these belts on with one of your fancy frocks. If it has the same effect as wearing your sneakers to a cocktail party-- it's a casual belt.

Double Duty

To make things even more confusing, there are belts that play both sides. You can wear these belts for a fancy soiree and for an afternoon grocery shopping. These belts are usually classic in nature, which is why they are appropriate for numerous occasions. Wide leather belts are a great example of a double duty belt. A wide leather belt can be worn over a cotton skirt during the day and then slipped around a satin jumpsuit at night. Skinny leather belts in patent leather, vented belts in bold colors and snakeskin and alligator belts also fall into this category.


Out shopping for the perfect belt? Know what you're going to be using it for before you start your search. If you're looking for a belt to wear with a a specific item of clothing, bring that clothing piece along and try on the belt with it. Know where your sweet spot is. This is the spot where the belt is going to look best. For some gals this is their natural waist, for others it's higher or lower. Be open to the fact that not every style of belt is made for every body type. In general, long-waisted gals look better in wide belts and short-waisted ladies look good in the skinny kind.

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