What are Skinny Belts?

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  • Written By: Elizabeth Kelly
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 06 January 2020
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Skinny belts are narrow women's belts, usually no more than 1 to 1.5 inches (2.54 to 3.81 cm) in width. While skinny belts have come in and out of fashion several times over the decades, the term "skinny belt" itself is a relatively new one. Originating in the early part of the 21st century, the use of the word "skinny" in fashion magazines to describe narrow belts most likely derived from the simultaneous popularity of "skinny jeans," or jeans with very narrow legs.

The popularity of skinny or narrow belts usually tends to run concurrently with the popularity of slim, fitted, or body-hugging fashions. In the 1940s and 1950s, skinny belts were worn with highly-tailored suit jackets or shirtwaist dresses to further accent a woman's waist. Patent leather belts in red or black were particularly common in the '50s, and most women matched them exactly to their shoes and handbags.

As the boxy Chanel-type suits of the 1960s became fashionable, the skinny belt fell from favor, virtually disappearing from the mainstream in the 1970s as wide-legged pants, maxi dresses, and billowy blouses were paired with wide belts that better suited the unstructured cut of the clothes. The punk subculture of the late '70s eschewed bell bottoms in favor of stovepipe pants, and therefore the wearers tended to wear skinnier belts too.


The straight-legged jeans fad of the 1980s brought back skinny belts as a fashion accessory to complement denim from famous designer labels. Metallic colors were popular for the skinny belts of the '80s, and some belts were even made to resemble stretchy gold chains, often with whimsical buckles in shapes like butterflies, hearts, or designer logos.

Skinny belts fell by the wayside again in the 1990s as grunge fashion and untucked flannel shirts, as well as the hip-hop fashion choice of saggy-bottomed pants, precluded the need for pretty belts. Though they were seldom seen due to the loose-fitting clothing, the belts of choice to pair with the baggy jeans styles of the '90s were of a traditional width, usually simply-styled and made of black or brown leather.

In the early 2000s, skinny jeans became a hot fashion trend, first worn by indie bands and celebrities. By 2008, they became the most popular and ubiquitous jeans style for most stylish young women in America. Skinny belts naturally followed suit, and were also paired with high-waisted skirts and worn over untucked blouses.


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Post 9

I tried wearing skinny belts, but felt like they just didn't look right on me. I am not very tall, and have a little bit of a stomach. Every time I wore a skinny belt I felt like it made my stomach stick out even more.

I bought a skinny black patent belt that I thought would go with a lot of outfits, but didn't end up wearing it very much.

I was hoping that somehow a skinny belt would be more flattering to my figure, but I think it made the bad parts look even worse.

There are many women who look great when wearing a skinny belt, but most of them are already thin. I just think that skinny belts look a lot better on people who aren't overweight.

Post 8

I love wearing skinny belts, and think they can really dress up any outfit. I don't usually like to wear my shirts tucked in, and wearing a skinny belt looks a lot classier and adds a nice touch.

One thing I would recommend is to not order skinny belts online unless you know for sure it will work for you.

I ordered several cheap skinny belts in different colors to go with a lot of my outfits. There was nothing wrong with the belts, but the size was not what I was expecting.

It was a little disappointing because I had to send them all back and get different ones. I suppose I could have punched holes in them, but I think that would look kind of tacky.

I have had much better luck when I can actually try on the belt to make sure it is going to fit right.

Post 7

@manykitties2 - If you have a black double skinny belt and are wider in the hips a good idea is to use the belt to accent your waist. I also have a pear shape and find that if I wear a long sweater dress, or something similar, in a neutral tone, and wrap the belt around the smallest part of my waist it looks great.

Basically what you are doing as creating an empire waist dress look, that really helps to slim down those with larger tummies, and wider hips. I love how easily we can trick the eye into thinking we have an itty bitty waist.

Post 6

Can anyone recommend a good way to wear a skinny black patent belt? It is a double wrap skinny belt and I am just not sure what to wear it with.

I have found that a log of magazines are giving conflicting tips on skinny belts for women, and what body shape they look best with. I am a pear shape, so I don't want to wear something that makes my bottom half look any more unfortunate.

I have tried out a cute yellow skinny belt before, but I ended up tossing it into the garbage because I hated how it made me look. I am hoping with the black belt I can work something out.

Post 5

I have seen several sweater dresses that come with skinny belts attached. Personally, I toss the belts and cut the loops off, because I find belts uncomfortable. However, I can see how a person with the right build could pull off this look.

I have also seen some sweater dresses with wide belts. I am trying to pick out one as a gift for my sister, and I'm not sure which is considered more fashionable. When it comes to belts, I'm out of the “loop.”

Does anyone have an opinion on this? Which type of belt would go best with a sweater dress?

Post 4

I have a friend who uses an orange skinny belt and an orange hat as protection from hunters when she walks in the woods. It doesn't sound like a lot, but that belt and the hat are neon orange.

A hunter would have to be color blind not to notice this skinny belt. It looks like it could glow in the dark!

She also wears the belt across a long black dress. I like the way it stands out. If she is in a crowd of people, you can easily pick her out by this bright belt.

Post 3

I think that red skinny belts look very stylish with dark denim jeans. They look even better if you wear a white or gray top. The neutral colors let the belt really pop.

I have both straight leg and skinny leg jeans, and the skinny red belt looks great with both of them. I usually wear a top that fits snugly and can be tucked into my jeans without looking lumpy, so that the belt is the focus of my outfit.

I also have a black and red checkered top that I like to wear with the belt. It's not as noticeable, since this top is very bold, but it does go well with it.

Post 2

@suntan12 – I agree with you. I have several shiny skinny belts that I wore a lot a couple of years ago, but now that I have gained ten pounds, I have put them on a shelf.

I have the dreaded muffin top, so I don't want to draw any attention to my midsection with a shiny little belt. I have bought several pairs of high-waisted jeans meant to have a slimming effect, and I need no belt with these, because they are snug.

I do hope to one day lose the weight, though. That's why I'm hanging on to the belts. It's a small thing to look forward to, but it would make me happy to be able to wear them again.

Post 1

I think that skinny leather belts look best on really slim women because if you are a little overweight these belts will not work and the thicker belts are better.

The skinny waist belts tend to accentuate your waist line and make you appear heavier when you are thicker around the middle. I think that a skinny belt would emphasize all of the extra weight that I have and I don’t think it would be flattering at all.

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