published Monday, July 30th, 2012

Accentuating the waist is a cinch with fall's trendy belts

  • photo
    Rhinoceros and Willa belts are displayed on a Fort Wood residence's front porch. (Fashion belts courtesy of Embellish)
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Where to get them

Streets Ahead pony hair belts in snow leopard and leopard: $65 each, from Willa.

Leather beaded wrap-style belt: $48, from Rhinoceros.

Twenty8 Twelve by S. Miller dark brown and black skinny belts: $105 each, from Rhinoceros.

Streets Ahead dark brown leather belt with brass horse bit detailing on buckle: $130, courtesy of Willa.

Black PerSe belt with removable leather flowers: $135, from Embellish.

Rag & Bone Hopton tan leather braided front belt: $175, from Willa.

Streets Ahead wide leather belt with brass clasp: $269, from Willa.

Streets Ahead double strapped leather belt: $212, from Willa.

Whether it's worn buckled, tied, cinched or snapped, a belt is the ideal way to accessorize an outfit. Fashion experts predict bold belts will emerge as a top trend for fall and winter.

One particular style may raise eyebrows. Black leather harness belts were showcased at Fashion Week's fall/winter preview in New York City. said the belts are expected to catch on because they make waists look tiny, but the bondage-style accessory may be too sexy to be work-friendly.

Terri Holley, owner of Embellish, a shoe and accessory boutique at Warehouse Row, said more traditional, skinny belts will be the most popular look locally.

"We will see more shapes, sizes and colors," she said. "Leather will be the most popular material, with embellishments and color helping to make a new statement."

At the Willa Collection on Manufacturers Road, belt styles include a skinny animal-print belt, a medium-width twisted leather belt and a wide, leather belt with bold hardware.

For most men, belts are a must-have daily accessory. For women, they serve more as statement pieces and as a way to emphasize or create an hourglass figure.

"Whether you are built up and down or have sexy curves, one thing is for certain: A belt will help you accentuate your waist," said Annie Hagaman, manager of at Willa.

Still, belts are not just for small-waisted women, Holley said.

"I do not believe there is a perfect body type for this accessory. However, I do think that wearing a belt a little loose or slightly below the waist makes it a little more flattering for those of us who do not have a small waistline," she said. " If you are one of those lucky enough to have a naturally small waist, by all means show it off with a tightly cinched belt.

Nathalie Welch, manager of Rhinoceros, a women's clothing boutique at Warehouse Row, said how you wear a belt depends on the outfit.

"For example, with tunics you can wear them high-waisted if you are bigger but lower-waisted if you are thinner," Welch said. "If you do not have a waist, you can wear it sideways (at an angle) on your hips."

Like shoes, purses and hats, some people have belts they favor for comfort and/or style.

Local Realtor Denise Leach said she owns about 40 belts, but "I only wear five of them and mostly with jeans," she said.

Chattanooga artist Daniel Swanger said he purchased his favorite belt, made of braided leather, at Dale Shannon's booth at Chattanooga Market.

"I don't know how he manages to braid the leather in one piece, but it's my favorite and I wear it constantly," Swanger said.

Scott Louisell, a Chattanooga Realtor, said he has four belts, each a "single-ply leather, utilitarian, no garish embellishments, with a silver oval or rounded buckle."

He has no trendy belts, he said, "just a necessary accessory that will not fall out of fashion and look equally complimentary with jeans or business casual pants."

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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