Gracey on Belts

Little known fact*, the first belt in recorded history is attributed to Grrrog, a prehistoric hunter who got tired of his seal-fur pants falling down when he was chasing mastodons across the Siberian steppes. Littler known fact*, the first belt was actually created by Grrrog’s wife, Mrs. Grrrog, for her husband, when he complained of his pants falling down on the hunt.

I’m a big fan of Grrrog and his clever wife, because I’m a big fan of belts. I always have been, having one of those bodies where my waist is quite a bit smaller than my hips and thighs so belts are necessary for keeping my pants up. In the past several years though, I’ve also become a fan of belts as an aesthetic accessory as well as a functional accessory

Belts are a good way to try trends like pattern-mixing and a good way to add interest by adding color or texture to an outfit. Belts can also be a good way to create or define a waist and yes, they’re still great for keeping your pants or skirt up.

The Pattern-mixing Belt

Pattern-mixing can be difficult for a lot of people, especially at first. That’s why I suggest starting out small. Instead of head-to-toe mixed prints, try a single print and add a small amount of another print. How small? About belt-sized.

For example, in this look I paired a polka-dot dress with a leopard belt:

navy polka dot dress & leopard belt


In this look, I paired a striped skirt with a differently striped belt:

navy & white striped tee, poppy pleated skirt & multi belt


In for this look, I paired a striped dress with an embroidered belt:

vintage striped dress, embroidered belt & turq bracelet


The Interest-adding Belt

This is probably my favorite category of belt because they’re, well, interesting.

In my wardrobe, this category includes such gems as my Eye-of-Sauron belt:

blush pleated skirt, silk houndstooth blouse, black belt


This suede belt:

cream pleated skirt, cream silk tank, patterned suede belt & bib necklace


And this chain belt:

black knit pencil, scarf-print blouse & chain belt

Oooh, so interesting!

The Waist-defining Belt

I use belts to help define my waist both with separates and with dresses. For separates, even if you tuck in your top, there can be a lot of extra volume at the waist. A belt is a good way to keep that volume down, and less volume = a more defined waist.

navy & white polka dot skirt, navy & white striped tee, braided belt & apple pendant

leopard skirt, studded belt & blue Old Navy blouse


Even on dresses with a clearly defined waist, a little more definition doesn’t hurt:

black rose print shirtdress & thin brown belt close up

vintage floral dress, woven belt & multicolored bracelets


The Keep-your-pants-on Belt

Of course, I still use belts for their original, Grrrog-intended purpose as well. I use them to keep my pants up:

Banana Republic jeans, snake-print silk blouse & black Nine West wedges


And my skirts:

cobalt skirt, gray tee, red belt, silver fringe necklace & nude platforms

This skirt is at least a size too big in the waist.


kelly green skirt, blue stripe bow blouse, leopard belt & yellow platform sandals

This skirt had no elastic at all in the waist.

Of course, all of these belt uses aren’t mutually exclusive.  I often use belts both to keep my pants on and add color or interest.  Or use them both for defining a waist and mixing patterns.

And finally, in case you were wondering, no, you absolutely do NOT have to match your belt to your shoes.


*These are not facts. I made them up. Probably.

_ _ _

Already Pretty contributor Gracey hails from from Fashion for Giants. She’s essentially your average blogger, except that she’s taller than average (six foot) and bigger than average (size 14). She also likes to think that she’s more amusing than average, but that could just be vanity. In addition to being tall and plus-sized (and possibly hilarious), she’s also a thrift store shopper, a vintage lover, an Oregonian, and a bike commuter.

Likes: Gracey likes to shop, to blog, and to terrify her co-workers with brightly colored outfits.

Dislikes: Robot uprisings, too-short skirts, and leggings as pants.

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18 Responses to “Gracey on Belts”

  1. Fran

    I love when Gracey did a similar post a few months ago on her blog – I was so inspired by all of her cute (mostly thrifted) dresses and skirts. Now if only I could wear them to work.

    On a side note, I know “plus sized” is subjective but I don’t think Gracey is. She’s just tall! Look at that itty bitty waist!

  2. Viktoria

    I always thought that belts also make a look more complete, particularly if you´re not keen on what some call “the third piece” (jacket, cardigan, vest). I think it adds instant credibility to an outfit, looks more properly dressed, somehow. A pair of jeans or trousers without belts in the hoops looks like you forgot something.

    Gracey is a belt champion. I´m taking notes!

  3. D

    I bow to your vast belting knowledge! I need to work on this pattern mixing via belt concept. Belts are tricky for me, but I am now inspired!

  4. Jocelyn

    I love belts and wear one just about everyday. I need to add some more interesting belts to my collection, but I have a hard time finding them big enough, especially if I want to wear them around hips.

    However, what I love even more than belts, is the BIG smile on Gracey’s face in each of her pictures. It’s nice to see a blogger just flat out smile at the camera and look happy!!

  5. Brynn

    I LOVE how you use belts! I have quite a few and see the value in belts (particularly in cinching the waist and adding interest to an outfit), but I am always so afraid they won’t be flattering on me. With these tips in mind, perhaps I’ll have a fresher view on belting 🙂

  6. two birds

    looking at all of these pictures…seriously, you are so fashionable and beautiful! i love your use of belts! that cream dress is one of my favorite looks on you!!

  7. ClaraT

    I love your belts, your outfits, your amazing style. I see how great the belts look. But still….I struggle.

    I own 3 belts, 2 of which I’ve never worn (!!). I am thin and have what is called a ‘boyish’ figure, so in theory belts would be perfect for giving me the illusion of a waist. I have two (related) problems: 1) A belt must be tight or in loops to stay up on me. If it is tight, I look freakishly skinny; if it is not tight, it rides down as I don’t have enough of a waist curve to hold it up. 2) If the belt is tight enough to stay up, it feels too tight when I sit down. If it is wide (>1 in), it digs into my ribs when I sit.
    If anybody else has struggled with/solved these, I’d love to hear about it. These photos are so inspirational.

    • Gisele

      Hi Clara! Sympathy. 2 ideas:

      1) Elastic belts! Stretchy!

      2) How about a cloth sash, plus a little fashion tape to keep it in place?

      • ClaraT

        Elastic belts? I never even tried one on. I like both of your ideas and will try them out. Thanks!

  8. MargeauxB

    Is it just the photos–so many belts look like they’re right under the bust, rather than at the waist? That’s a problem when there aren’t belt loops on the garment, I think,

    • Ashe @Ash in Fashion

      MargeauxB, I think maybe its because in many, Gracey is wearing the belts at her “natural waist” (which is typically 2-3″ below our bustline and the smallest place on our waist).

    • Gracey at Fashion for Giants

      Hi MargeauxB –

      Ash is right, I generally choose to wear my belts at my natural waist rather than the waistline of where pants would hit me. But, that’s a personal choice. I happen to like the high-waist look and so belt my belts higher than someone else might.

    • Thursday

      Ash is right – we’ve been trained to see the natural waist as “high-waisted”. Gracey is wearing these belts at the narrowest point on her torso, which is the natural waist. Most trousers these days will only rise to a low waist.

      Love your belt collection, Gracey! I’m personally addicted to lots of buckles!

  9. Chris

    I don’t see how Gracie is plus size either. She’s tall, well proportioned, and I think slender.

  10. Amy

    Awww, Gracey, you look so wonderful in all of these photos! And thank you for the advice on how to wear belts. I have a similar figure to you (6″ and curvy, woo!) and am looking forward to using these tips.

  11. Margo

    Hmm. I think the most flattering photo is the grey top and blue skirt because the belt is lower–makes your torso look longer.