Reader Question: Belting How-Tos

Shaynie asks:

Hi Nina! Can I ask you a question? :) How do you know whether to tuck a shirt into a skirt or to leave it un tucked? And how do you know whether or not it will look good to wear a belt with a certain outfit? I'm trying to branch out with my outfits, but I don't know how to style them. Any tips? :)

Thanks for asking, Shaynie! I'm a big fan of experimentation-- when I get dressed in the morning, I tuck, untuck, try one belt and then another. That said, I do have a few rules of thumb that make putting similar outfits together a snap. Here are a few ideas that I've found work for me!

I. When leaving a shirt untucked, keep the bottom half sleek and slimmer than the shirt. Volume on top looks lovely with narrow lines on the bottom.
II. You don't need to tuck tees to look good- just keep the rest of the outfit classy. Pair your untucked tee with a cardigan rather than a zipup to keep it from looking childish.
III. My favorite trick for feeling put-together is tucking into a high-waisted skirt. This vintage style is back in fashion, and no wonder! Since I've got some serious curves, focusing in on my narrowest part- my natural waist- works wonders.
IV. To amp up the small-waist factor, add a belt! Try skinny, wide, patterned and textured to see what works for your body. This draws the eye directly to your natural waist.

The green belt unites two disparate patterns; the wide black belt does the same while reigning in a voluminous top; the wide silver belt cinches in the volume of both the top and the skirt; and the studded belt adds a textural element and brings in a color that repeats in the necklace and shoes. The skirt in pictures 2 and 4 is the same: in the first, belted at the top with a voluminous blouse, and in the second, belted lower with a slimmer-fitting tee. You can use belts to wear the same piece quite differently.

V. One of my favorite tricks is to use a wide belt to raise the waistline of a skirt that otherwise sits lower on my hips.

VI. Use belts to create new shapes from what you own. Belt voluminous sweaters, long tunics and yes, even your husband's clothing. Watch your old clothing transform before your eyes.

 VII. Try belting with slim-fitting cardigans. You may be amazed at the results.
 On the left, I belted a skirt to keep it higher than it sits naturally. The cardigan on top narrows the field of vision, making the belt buckle (and hence my waist) a focal point. On the right, I belted over the cardigan, bringing the dress and sweater together into one piece. This way, layers don't shift and look as though they are meant to be put together. Belting right under the bust creates a flowy empire shape that is very forgiving-- great for eating dinner out!

Whew, what a long-winded response to your question! I hope this little experiment was helpful to you, Shaynie, and anyone entering the wonderful figure-enhancing world of tucking and belting. These seven commandments are just some trends I noticed when going through my blog posts.  
Can you add to my list? When do you tuck and/or belt-- and when do you let it all hang out?


Shaynie said...

Wow, thanks for the detailed post! This really helps! Now all I have to do is go get a few belts! :)

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