2018 Update: We still love this discussion on whether you should belt your pants at work, but you may also want to check out our recent discussions on how to wear belts with skirts, as well as some of our recently recommended belts.
Reader R wonders about belts…
Can you do a post on belts? Specifically belts to be worn through belt loops on pants (not the over the shirt/dress accessory type). I realized this morning that I have not bought a belt in years and I have always been awkward about wearing them. I rarely tuck my shirt into my pants, preferring sweater tops I can wear out, so I don’t usually wear a belt with my pants. Should I? Is there something to my husband’s theory that pants sit better when worn with a belt, even if it’s not seen? Or is that visible “belt bump” under a sweater worn out a no-no? What kind of belt will I get the most mileage out of? Is there an appropriate belt for jeans (for those of us lucky enough to be able to wear jeans to the office occasionally)?
I remember reading years ago that a 1″ belt was an absolute must-have for a well-dressed woman, so I dutifully went out and bought a 1″ belt in what I thought was a decent leather. I found that it primarily sat, unused, because in general I prefer to leave shirts untucked, so the belt just never got added to the outfit when I was getting dressed in the mornings. To me, that’s the dividing line — a belt should be worn if you’re tucking things in; otherwise it’s a matter of preference. (There are caveats here, such as if your pants are too big for you, or the waist of your pants is too big for you — but keep in mind that while a belt will solve some problems (e.g., gaping, pants falling down), that it will create a “bunching” look, and ultimately you either need tailoring or new pants. (Pictured: Lauren by Ralph Lauren Italian Croco Leather Belt, 1″W, available at Bloomingdale’s for $48.)
Incidentally, I grabbed one of my style books (Accessories (Chic Simple)) while running out the door this morning to see what it had to say about belts — the authors noted that “[t]he most basic leather belt thrives on subtle surface interest, such as lizard and alligator skin. Reptile skins are prized for their durability.” (The chapter on belts didn’t actually answer the question or offer any other reasons for wearing belts, beyond making an outfit look more polished.)
So, readers — how often do you wear simple belts? Why do you do so (to make pants lay neatly? To “finish” a look)? Any favorite basic belts?