There's no need to convey your loyalty to luxury fashion with a waist. Instead, opt for a quieter style using one of these three subtle options.
Daring. Arrogant. Braggadocio. There are many things that mark the ebb and flow of the popularity of branded belts in recent decades. Subtlety is not one of them. From Gucci's double G to Chanel's interlocking C, these unmissable belts have turned women's waists into billboards promoting their luxury brands of choice. If you're a Linda Evangelista circa 1991, or just generally into that sort of thing, that's great. But many women aren't. These days, it's strangely hard to find truly desirable anonymous belts.
"I don't like to have any well-known brands on me," says Los Angeles gallerist Rosa Park. 37-year-old Park wears a belt that pairs her everyday baggy pants with a cotton T-shirt. But she never opts for the "flashy" Hermes "H" she received as a gift. "I wear a regular men's suit that I found in a vintage store," she says. Women's versions, she says, are "much harder to find. Especially in a market where even popular brands like Guess are pushing rhinestone logo bands.
Those looking for a stealthy display of style will be pleased to learn that the discreet elite belt is back this season, with brands like Row, Savette and Emme Parsons offering sophisticated versions with sleek hardware. refine's oval buckle (below) is inspired by the corsets of the '90s and is available in two thicknesses.
GIVE WAIST Three elegantly rustic leathers to choose from. From top to bottom: belt, $390, Savette.com; belt, about $230, Refine-Store.com; belt, $98, EmmeParsons.com
Photo by F. MARTIN RAMIN/Wall Street Journal, styled by JILL TELESNICKI
The more boring a belt is, the more "versatile" it becomes, says Sydney fashion buyer Giselle Farhat. Her online boutique, My Chameleon, can't get Comme des Garçons to stock obviously plain black or brown belts - with thin, square, unbranded fasteners. "It's timeless, not overly trendy," she says.
These understated belts do more than hold up pants. New York stylist Rachael Wang uses her desirable, unassuming vintage black belts to fasten blazers, oversized jackets and dresses. She considers belts the "jewelry of her closet" and often wears them with square gold clasps instead of earrings.
Telsha Anderson-Boone, owner of New York concept store TA, recently wore an understated pearl belt on her wedding day. "I didn't want to wear too much jewelry," she says. The belt, with slim silver metal hardware on the back, snaked around the waistline of her cream-colored skirt and top set. "It was a fun and unexpected accessory that complimented my engagement ring."
Ms. Park says you can't just "buy any belt. Instead, you should "buy a classic white shirt, black boots or blue jeans." In other words, think about the nuances; take your time. Insight pays off, she says. To be thoughtful, Ms. Farhat says, match your buckle to your jewelry. If in doubt, the thinner the belt and buckle, the better: slimmer styles will neither steer a rodeo nor a cowboy show. Ms. Farhat advises, "No one needs to know where your belt is coming from."