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What clothes suit my body shape? The belt guide

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Don't underestimate how belts can flatter your outfit and figure - whatever your body shape

What works best for me when it comes to using belts to flatter my body shape? We’ve got tips to help you choose the right belt styles for each common womens body shape. Use these as general guidelines because everyone is unique so the mirror (and / or best friend or camera) should be your ultimate judge. Experimenting is so worthwhile because the right belts make a huge huge huge and we mean huuuuuuuge difference. Once you have done your experimentation you will know what works on you going forward – you might also use an image consultant or personal shopper to help you.

Why not order a few to try and experiment with what works for you – you can return the ones that don't as per our returns policy conditions. Just be gentle when trying them on to keep them as new.

What clothes suit my body shape? The belt guide!

Plus size ladies – including those who think they can't wear a belt because they don't have a middle

Larger ladies, without an hour glass figure, will find a hip belt works best for them. Big tummies can be hidden with a hip or asymmetric belt that creates a V shape and it adds interest too. Creates an attractive line if peeping out from under a long cardigan or long jacket. The Stephen Collins hip hook belt or the t-bar belt or asymmetric are the wonder belts that look good from UK size 10 to size 20 – a great V style to try. All body shapes love these belts. We have had many ladies who thought they could not wear a belt fall in love with one of these and then buy it in oodles of colours because it makes them look so fabulous! See our hip belts.

Specific advice for what belt styles suit what body shapes

Short v long waist and empire line dress issues

Before we get started with body shapes consider whether you are shorted waisted, normal or long waisted i.e. how much torso do you have below the bust line available to wear a belt on?

  • Short waist – wear lower than your waistline. Can be on the waist at the back.
  • Long waist – wear higher than your waistline

Pretty simple really when you think about it, but some struggle without really analysing just why they struggle with belts. If you want detailed advice about how to dress for your personal proportions with all sorts of clothing, it is worth doing an 'Image Session' with House of Colour or similar organisation/image consultant who offers this exact service. You'll be measured and get a handy guide to help you shop as well as have your clothing personality analysed.

My dress has a sewn in empire line or waistline or below waistline

If this is the case you ought to wear your belt so it covers that line or it could look odd, regardless of the advice above for short and long waists. Next best is to wear a cute sweater or cardi over the dress and put a belt over that.

Suit my body shape top tips for belts

Boyish figure / Straight up and down

  • As they say in Birmingham, you FLB (flippin’ lucky bitch)! You can wear anything but you might want a wide belt to cinch your outfit to add some curve and definition. Don't go too big if it looks like it is drowning you.
patent belt with denim shorts and blouse on skinny girl cinch wide feature buckle belt

Large / thick waist – apple shape

  • Try wearing your belt about 3 inches down from your waist to draw the attention away from it. The best belts for you are V shaped like the t-bar or Stephen Collins hip hook (go up to UK size 20 in popular colours) you'll find in our hips belt page – these will look great especially when they are worn with a long cardigan or jacket over. You should also try asymmetric styles which sit over your tummy. Once you find the belt that works for you, we won't be surprised if you come back to order it in more colours like so many of our customers do!
  • If your bust is far larger than you hips, balance it out by wearing a wide belt hipster fashion over your jeans, rather than in the loops.
chain belt on apple body shape slim leather belt on apple figure belt worn on hips on large chested girl

Large hips – pear shape

  • Some say use belts as often as you can to attract the eye to your trim waistline – this works if flared out skirts from the waist work for you so go for it. Don't wear belts on your actual hips – below waist is okay too. But be careful not to wear a belt too low with a cropped jacket – this will draw too much unwanted attention to those hips. However Marta, our founder, is pear shaped with stick pin legs so needs pencil / straight skirts (i.e. she can't lose the hips in fabric or her legs will look daft) above the knee ideally (or she looks frumpy unless it is the other extreme and down to the feet – yes you learn so much when you have an image session with an image consultant!) and wearing belts on her actual waistline with some outfits is a terrible place because it seems to cut her into little upper body and huge balloon bottom! She therefore finds belts worn below the waist work best from chain belts (these hang perfectly for a pear shape in a U shape) to skinnies through to a t-bar worn in a V shape which avoids having something wider on the hips which is no good. When it comes to jeans / trousers where Marta has to have a belt around her dangerous middle-split-me-into-two shapes area, jeans belts are great (especially the grey snakeskin effect belt she loves) as long as she wears a cardigan or jacket to cover the wider part she doesn't want to draw attention to – the lovely belt makes the statement instead. Without a jacket she'd go long top / dress with leggings with chain belt or narrower belt worn low or if wanting to wear jeans with a very fancy top that doesn't lend itself to a belt, the top comes down past the fly and Marta makes sure the belt stays up by using an invisibelt. Another look she likes is wearing a cute fitted V neck sweater that ends just a bit past the belt loops line on her jeans worn with a skinny belt over the sweater low waist and an invisibelt underneath to hold up the jeans.
wide belt worn on hips on pear figure belt with western style feature buckle worn on waist on pear body shape chain style leather belt on hips of pear figure

Apples and pears

  • Wearing a belt the same colour as your clothes has a great slimming effect i.e. going for length and steering away from width.
  • Another school of thought says a wide dark belt with an interesting buckle makes a plus size woman’s waist look smaller. We say try both and let the mirror be your judge.
leather belt matching clothing wide belt worn with shirt leather belt with cowboy style buckle

Curvy figure - hourglass

  • If you have curves to die for the last thing you want to do is cover them up with long shapeless garments that make them look like bulges. The belt is the hourglass’ best friend for bringing out those glorious curves. You can go as wide as your waist is with belts. A lot of plus size ladies love obi belts – they are soft and go with so much! Short waisted hour glasses can do narrower tie belts. If you are very top heavy you may want to wear a waist belt but a little under the waistline – a t-bar belt worn with shallow V is perfect for this and it is soft too in the elasticated back.
wide leather sash style belt on hourglass figure patent leather corset belt over on hourglass body shape

Not so slimming

  • Belts go with just about everything but for wide waist and obi belts, avoid wearing them with a high neck top without sleeves. This can make you look blocky unless you are very curvy.

I have found that belts hurt me before - is there hope?

  • Some of us are shaped such that certain belt styles dig in to us when we sit down. You need to look at soft leather belts like the obi / tie belts and elasticated belts like the t-bar which might be elastic all the way round or just at the back.

Keep it in proportion

Petite women

  • The golden rule is to avoid wide belts as they’ll steal your length. Don’t go much wider than trouser belt width i.e. 30mm and small scale chain belts or try wider belts (no more than 6cm) if you match them to the colour of your dress/top as this will lengthen you. A contrasting belt particularly in a colour like black or brown might make you look cut in half. You can also use coat or tie belts which are no more than 35mm or 50mm wide as an obi belt without the double wrap unless you are so slim you can double wrap it - see the wonderful ways to wear an obi belt. Skinny double wrap belts can work well on you as well as skinnies of course. Petite ladies often look great with detail like a knotted belt style so check out boyfriend belts and yoyo belts ot simply buy a belt that's too big with a pin buckle and don't use the pin.
belt with polka dots on petite girl belt with tail tucked in on petite frame

Breast size

  • Big boobs demand a big belt but be careful with very small breasts, as a big belt can swamp you – then it is time for the padded bra or a thinner belt. And if you have very large breasts it is best to wear your belts lower than your waist.
very wide belt with huge brass buckle on small chested girl wide zip fasten belt on busty woman

Experimenting is so worthwhile because the right belts make a huge difference to how you look and how you feel about yourself.”