It’s a Cinch That the Belt Way Will Come Around Again and Again


The news for belts this season: black leather in either a very wide or very narrow style, nothing in between.

The popularity of the waist-cinching accessory is due not to fashion designers, but to military pragmatists. The little black belt ‘round your waist was originally used to hold weapons close at hand. From there, it became stylish. In the 1850s, belts were used as decorative elements, created from the same fabric as the dress or skirt.

The Art Nouveau movement of the early part of the century injected the belt--and its buckle--with glamour, making it an artistic form. With the dropped waistline of the ‘20s, belts disappeared, but after World War II, they were back, noticeably wider in order to focus attention on the narrow waist and full hips of the pinup-girl look.


Colorful leather, plastic, gilt and feather belts exploded in the Pop ‘60s. The early ‘70s saw the revival of the buckled cowboy belt, and toward the end of the decade, the Japanese influence in fashion created the extra-long, triple-wrapped body belts.

Today, belts are made of rubber, plastic, suede, metal, leather, fabric, linked chains, even buttons, coins and jewels.

They are braided, single- or multilayered, knitted, elastic, Obi style (knotted in the front) or sashed.

It’s pretty certain that so long as there’s a waist, there will be a belt.