Belt up – why wearing a belt doesn’t create a waist

It was the Oscars last night, and today the Internet is awash with photographs of actresses in their red carpet outfits.  Of course, there is commentary about the best and worst dressed - and I even saw one actress appearing on both lists so clearly there's a question of personal taste coming into it, but the one that stood out to me (for the wrong reasons) was Nicole Kidman's dress which was a shimmering pale gold on ivory which she was wearing a belt with.  

More...

Nicole wearing a belt

Since the belt is such a bright colour against the rest of the dress, it immediately draws the eyes to her waist - and emphasises that she doesn't really have any differentiation between her torso, waist, and hips because Nicole has a "Lean Column" bodyshape.

As such, it's not as flattering a dress as it could be.  Nicole has an amazing slim, lithe figure, although she frequently wears red carpet dresses that create the illusion of a curvier body shape which, rightly or wrongly is programmed into our subconscious as the body shape to aim for (since it represents youth and fertility).  Sadly, this dress wasn't one of them, but it demonstrates the point I'd like to make very well.

Wearing a belt does not create a waist for you!

#selfimage #coaching

Click to Tweet

If you've read any women's magazines you'll have read the suggestion that "Wearing a belt will create some curves".  And Gok Wan has virtually every woman he meets wearing a belt to emphasise their "womanly shape".  However, it simply doesn't work for every woman because we have different body shapes and some don't look too great wearing a belt!

Should you be wearing a belt?​

To work out whether you should be wearing a belt, calculate your waist to hip ratio.  Using the measurements of the average woman from the Size UK project this would be 34 inches divided by 40.5 inches or a ratio of 0.84.  

In reality, that ratio is too big for a woman to wear a belt without employing a few tricks to create a visual illusion.  Ideally you should have a ratio of 0.8 or less to wear a visible belt at your natural waist where you have the sides of your waist completely on show.  Hip belts are another thing though and I'll cover this in another blog post at some point.  

  • If you have a waist to hip ratio between 0.8 and 0.9, I'd suggest you only wear a belt if the sides of your waist aren't visible eg you're wearing an open jacket or cardigan that disguises where your waist starts.  If that's not possible, keep reading for more tips.
      • If you have a ratio of ​more than 0.9, try to avoid belts altogether (but do use one to hold your trousers up if necessary :-D).  Yes, you could really pull it tight, but you'll run the risk of any fat round your waist spilling over the top of the belt, and that's not a good look really, is it?  It's more flattering for you to have looser clothes that skim over your tummy completely.

Now, hopefully, you'll realise that this ratio works irrespective of your weight.  ​Very light women might have a high ratio and should avoid belts; very overweight women might have a low ratio and can look great wearing a belt (although, bear in mind that absolute waist size is used as a gauge for long term health).   And, of course, you are at liberty to wear anything you want as I've written about before - but you just have to be aware of the consequences.

So, what are the things that can be done to create an illusion of a curvier figure if your waist to hip ratio is between 0.8 and 0.9​ and you're not in a position to wear something to cover the sides of your waist?  Here are some ideas based on what Nicole has worn on other red carpets:

    • Wear a self-coloured belt
    • Wear a fuller skirt​ so your hips look bigger

    • Use pattern strategically to create the illusion of a more curved figure (and possibly a Spanx bodysuit ??)

    • Use horizontal colour bands to emphasise the difference between waist and hips

    • ​Use layering of different fabrics and pleats to create a "bulkier" shape (peplums work well to do this)

    What you also need to consider with the belts that you wear is the scale of them in comparison with your body and what effect wearing a belt can have based on your proportions.  Knowing these small details about your body and what to do to enhance the good bits and disguise the not so good bits will help you to look great whatever you're doing, whenever you're doing it - and that will help to boost your self-esteem and confidence no end.  

    Like this and want more?

    If you want the latest news from me, fill in your details below

    I appreciate your privacy, so don't worry, I won't sell your email address to anybody else, and you've always got the option of opting out any time I send stuff to you...

    I'd love to hear your comments on this post

    Gillian Lewis
    FOLLOW ME

    Gillian Lewis

    Self Image Coach at Gillian Lewis: Spectrum Coaching and Consultancy based in Darlington, County Durham, UK
    What on earth is a Self-Image Coach I hear you ask – it’s cross between a Confidence Coach and Image Consultant.

    I help clients become happier and more confident by giving them a Makeover from the Inside Out to change their internal and external view of themselves.

    I'm not really interested in fashion, just what clothes can do for your self-image - that's where the Forget Fashion blog title originated, so I won't be doing much commentary on the latest catwalk styles.Instead, I write about things I come across in life that make me reflect.Sometimes it's serious.Sometimes it's just fun.Hopefully you'll like my writing style, find what I write about interesting and enjoy the experience.If you do, share the love using the boxes below - thank you 😀
    Gillian Lewis
    FOLLOW ME
    About Gillian Lewis

    What on earth is a Self-Image Coach I hear you ask – it’s cross between a Confidence Coach and Image Consultant.

    I help clients become happier and more confident by giving them a Makeover from the Inside Out to change their internal and external view of themselves.

    I'm not really interested in fashion, just what clothes can do for your self-image - that's where the Forget Fashion blog title originated, so I won't be doing much commentary on the latest catwalk styles. Instead, I write about things I come across in life that make me reflect. Sometimes it's serious. Sometimes it's just fun. Hopefully you'll like my writing style, find what I write about interesting and enjoy the experience. If you do, share the love using the boxes below - thank you :-D

    Comments

    1. I don’t like wearing a belt and rarely do – I think they just don’t suit me at all! Fab advice in this post x

      • If you’ve done the waist to hip ratio, you can check if your instincts are right. Sometimes we can think we don’t suit a particular style but it’s because we’re uncomfortable about showing a particular part of our body. You’ve made me realise I need to add something in about hip belts…