One of the most underrated accessories in the entire lexicon is the belt. True, there was a time when my neighbor, a belt manufacturer, couldn't give them away. In fact, he did give a bunch of them away— to me. There were some beauties— massive, chunky, all-leather and costing more to buy than I would ever spend. Having a small waist to show off (and divert the eye from the large hips and the no bosom) I've always appreciated what the right belt can do.
No matter what your shape (pear, apple, tomato, banana or bunch of grapes) you can't go wrong by defining your waist. And a belt will put your waist where you want it. The smallest part of a woman's silhouette is her ribcage— the area between the bosom and the waist. Thusly the lovely boutique where I work tends to stock a number of dresses that are purposefully a tad short-waisted. Not only does that accentuate the smallest part, it lengthens the legs.
Word of caution: when a dress comes with its own belt consider the belt that was provided as only a place holder— a suggestion that, yes, you need a belt. Most belts (or sashes) included with dresses are flimsy little things and need to be replaced by something substantial with a little style.
Belt fashions come and go, but unlike apparel, a belt is a belt is a belt. Rarely will one date itself. If macrame belts suddenly come back in style, you could wear your macrame belt from the '70s and no one would be wiser. But let's really truly hope they do not.
If you have pants or a skirt with belt loops either wear a belt or remove the loops.
A man's necktie makes a cool, prepster-looking belt. Be certain you have not absconded with his favorite tie (every man has one no matter how much he may hate to wear it). Audrey Hepburn once famously wore the canvas strap from a case of wine as a belt. A silk scarf can be folded into a narrow shape and worn as a belt.
Proof that belts are truly art: I have a small but well-loved collection of souvenir beaded belts that spell out place names in the beading. I used to pick them up on travels around the country. Alas belts and the souvenir plates we used to buy and hang on the wall have been replaced by souvenir t-shirts and baseball caps. Ugh.
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