The most important thing to do before incorporating a wide, waist-cinching belt into your wardrobe is to take a good look in the mirror, say fashion experts.
"While (the belts) accentuate the waist, they can also accentuate figure flaws," said Gregg Andrews, a fashion director at Nordstrom. "You need to look head to toe."
The wrong belt could emphasize full hips or a wide backside, he said.
Here's a primer on what and how to wear trendy belts:
- The width should be proportional to your height, advised Clinton Kelly, co-host of TLC's "What Not To Wear." Taller women - think first lady Michelle Obama - can wear a wide belt, but it's not for the petite woman. It would take up too much torso, he explains, creating a choppy silhouette.
- The belted cardigan is big for fall. "We're going to see cardigans in every length from the hip bone to the midcalf length and adding a belt to a cardigan is a new way," Andrews said.
- Shop your closet with the wide belt, suggests Suze Yalof Schwartz, executive fashion editor at large for Glamour. "The wide belt can make every piece in your closet feel new."
Dresses, button-down shirts, a boyfriend jacket or a blazer are all potential partners for the belt, she said. The only items to stay away from: a thick sweater or shrunken jacket.
- Belts can be worn with casual, work and evening clothing.
- The top of the belt should hit at about the middle of your ribcage. "When it's higher than that, it starts to manipulate the proportions," Andrews said.
But Kelly has a caveat: If you have a thicker waistline, move the belt up a little higher to create an almost empire-waist effect. That will draw attention to what is likely the narrowest part of the body and create a longer, leaner leg-line.
- While wearing a wide belt, don't overdo jewelry. Oversize earrings could work but watch out for necklaces so long they come near the belt, Andrews said. "The width of the belt creates a statement on its own," he said.
- A wide belt can be a nice juxtaposition to a top with pleating or ruching. But if there's beading or embroidery, the belt needs to be simple so it doesn't compete, Andrews said.
- The belt doesn't have to match your shoes or bag, but it should complement them.
- Lisa A. Flam, The Associated Press