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How to Style a Belt with Jeans

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about belts and how to style them with jeans and other casual looks. A belt is truly an outfit-changing accessory, and the easiest way to take a simple look to the next level. I try to wear one whenever the waistband of my jeans is visible in an outfit.

rag & bone belt (M) // Jenni Kayne sweater (S) (budget option) // J.Crew coat (6)

I’ve amassed quite a collection of belts in recent years, and I’ll do a roundup at the end of the post with splurge and save options, but first, a few quick tips for styling a belt with jeans.

5 Tips for Styling A Belt with Jeans

#1. Choose belts that align with your personal style. I prefer classic styles in good quality leather that feels and looks luxe and buttery soft, and I tend to go for more minimalistic styles. If there’s a logo present, I prefer it to be a little more under the radar, although I do have a few YSL logo belts that I wear often.

YSL belt (90) // old LOFT trench // Joe’s jeans (29) // old stripe top // Marc Fisher boots (8)

#2. For a classic look, you can’t go wrong by matching the color of the belt to your shoes. This is my personal preference, and what I do 99% of the time. If I’m wearing sneakers, I try to coordinate to a color in the sneakers, or I just wear something that makes sense with the outfit.

If you have a more adventurous style, or you don’t have a good match in your closet, try matching your belt to another item in your outfit. For a bolder look, experiment with colored or patterned belts to add a pop of personality to your look.

Ferragamo belt (90) (budget option) // old Vince sweater // MOTHER denim (29) (budget option) // Vince boots (8)

#3. Wear a belt that is about the same width as the belt loops on your pants. Traditional rules state that your belt should be the width of the belt loops on your pants or jeans, but these days, anything goes.

Skinny belts are having a moment right now, and sometimes I feel like my wider belts look a little bit “extra”, so I say go with what looks and feels good to you.

B-Low The Belt belt (M) // MOTHER Dazzler (29) // LØCI sneakers (39) (more colors here) // Rails jacket (S) // Nordstrom sweater (S)

As with everything in the world of fashion, what is in style will evolve and change along with the other fashion trends. I tend to wear thicker belts with more casual looks and thinner belts with dressier looks.

In the picture above, the belt is pretty large and in charge, but I feel like it works with the proportions of the outfit. Also, that is an example where I did not match the belt to my shoes, but rather, the jacket… Although the shoes do have black tabs on the back.

LØCI sneakers (39) (more colors here) // MOTHER Dazzler (29)

In the outfit below, I wore a thinner belt, because I didn’t want such a branded buckle, but I feel like a wider belt would look better with this outfit.

Because it’s a casual look, and there is a lot of volume in the jeans, a wider belt might look more balanced, but there’s no right or wrong here. Play around with it, and see what looks good to you.

Frame belt (M) // PAIGE denim (29) // Marc Fisher boots (8) // Treasure & Bond cardigan (S) // GF tank (M)

#4. Choose your buckles wisely. From classic buckles to statement pieces, each conveys a unique vibe. A sleek, minimalist buckle adds sophistication, while an ornate buckle can bring a touch of boho-chic to your look.

I’m sure it won’t surprise you to hear that I go for the more sleek, minimalist styles. As far as the color of the hardware goes, it’s totally up to your personal preferences. I have belts with both gold and silver hardware, so I can coordinate with the other metals in my outfit.

old AllSaints belt // green puffer vest (option) // ivory fisherman sweater (option) // bootcut jeans (option) // brown lug sole boots (option) // brown handbag

#5. Tuck in your shirt to showcase the belt. It can be a full tuck or a half tuck, whatever works best for the outfit and your personal proportions. I typically front tuck, so just the belt buckle and the front third of the belt is showing.

YSL belt (90) // Vince blouse (S) // PAIGE denim (29) (budget option) // Vince Camuto sandals (8)

For a casual, laid-back look, consider leaving the end of your belt hanging or creating a loose knot. This works particularly well with longer belts and can add an extra layer of dimension to your outfit.

And of course, you can always wear a belt on top of a jacket or tunic top, without using the buckles at all. In this case, the belt should sit at your natural waist, to create an hourglass effect.

Shop My Favorite Belts for Wearing with Jeans

I rounded up my favorite belts and some other recommendations at a variety of price points in the shopping widget below, organized low to high.

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photos: Alison Cornell

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0 Responses

  1. I have always been a belt person. I wear skinny belts with high waisted jeans or pants. I prefer the wider ones for mid rise. Not that I have any mid rise. I’m glad the style of belting tops and jackets is coming back. I used to do that all the time. I saw a video that recommended belting the oversized blazers. Thanks for all the helpful information.

    1. Terri, Same with me! I love belting my jeans, then front tucking the tops. I have a nice collection of quality leather belts in several shades of brown,cream, and black. Actually, my favorite belt is a dark navy blue suede belt with a silver oval bucket from the GAP. It’s probably 25 years old and as soft as can be! My husband bought a leather hole-punch tool from Amazon and he can easily add a hole if needed to make a belt looser or tighter.

  2. I am 5’3”, short-waisted and pear-shaped. When I try a belt, I don’t look good from behind with my shirt tucked in. What do you suggest?

  3. Urging need to start adding belts. I got out of the habit as its more comfortable without. I only own two. One you recommended last year from Gap factory to wear with white jeans and white tee shirt outfit.

  4. Wanted to tell you how much I love the Evereve green sweatshirt! I already had in my closet when you posted your picture. It’s so cute and comfy!!

  5. Great post! I struggle with belts. I love the way they look on you and others, but whenever I put one on I immediately remove it! I think it’s because I am petite with a shorter torso. Maybe my belts are too wide. Is there a nicer mid width belt with an attractive buckle that you’d recommend above the others?

    1. I would try a 1″ width, and see how you like it. That is the width of my Ferragamo and the wider YSLs. The B-Low The Belt one I have is wider, and it looks a lot bulkier. Even the AllSaints one, which was always a favorite, is 1 1/4″ so I would try 3/4″ or 1″.

  6. A little trick I use to tie a belt into my sneakers is to use rawhide laces with my Oxford sneakers to match my cognac belt.

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