Recently I  had a request from a friend to share tips and inspiration on how to wear belts with dresses.

I was thrilled because I designed my original belt collection for styling dresses.  I was living in Buenos Aires, Argentina where women dress up for every-single-occasion.  Yes, including to take out the trash.  I’m not exaggerating… a neighbor might see them after all.

Summer days get pretty hot and sticky so a breezy light dress is the typical go-to for most women. And during cooler months, dresses are worn more for dressing up to parties, going out to dinner, museums or concerts.

But guess what… this dress is always adored with a belt.

As I was designing my one-size leather belt collection I was so inspired by the beautiful pulled together outfits all around me. And I was just imagining how women back at home, although usually very casual, would be excited to incorporate a little glam, or detailing into her outfit, especially to a dress.

A belt is that humble little accessory that completely changes a dress.

The best thing about wearing a belt with a dress, especially an ADA belt, is that it suits everyone.  It adds feminine curves to an athletic shape, defines and accentuates an hourglass silhouette. It adds color and texture, breaks up prints, it pulls an outfit together and helps it look more polished.

And the versatility and one-size concept makes it easy to wear with your entire wardrobe…but today…we will focus on dresses.

Here are a few more questions I received that I felt were important to a “dress” at this time. 🙂

Do you have any tips on wearing belts with dresses?  And what styles would you recommend?

Absolutely!  In fact, adding a belt to a dress will give you a more polished look (and cover seam lines).  You can wear it alone for a statement look or pull in your accessories (jewelry, shoes and handbag) with one color.  However, the best part about adding a belt to a dress is the way it defines your waist and accentuates your hourglass figure or creates an illusion of one.  My top recommended style is the classic ADA wrap belt that comes in a wide variety of colors.

before and after how to belt a dress with a wrap belt high on the waist to add finishing touch

In this example, I’m taking a shapeless dress and adding a fun Maya Belt with fringe detailing for waist definition.  I also love to play with texture.  When wearing a soft knit tunic or dress you can really make a statement with a Naomi Belt or any other style with texture.  It gives your dress more interest and it’s a great way to update a dress you may have worn before but want to restyle.


Before and After how to belt a dress with a Maya fringe belt and Naomi belt high on the waist

Should belts always be worn high on the waist?  

Many women wear belts for strategic dressing and to create an illusion of an “hourglass figure”, which would typically be worn on the smallest part of the waist.

how to belt a dress with a Cala snap belt high on the waist

In this example, I’m styling the Cala belt high on the waist.

how to belt a dress for your wedge shape

However, you don’t have to limit your belt styling for high on the waist.  If you have a wedge shape (meaning your shoulders are wider than hips) you may feel more comfortable wearing a belt on your hips and bellowing your dress over it.  This is part of strategic dressing when you don’t want to draw attention to your mid section but want to look slimmer in an un-tailored dress.  You can try the Lucky belt for low on the waist or hips.

how to belt a dress with a Tough Guy jean belt

In the photo above I’m showing one of our top-selling jean belts, the Tough Guy. I love mixing a more masculine belt with a feminine dress.  It creates a “cool girl” look that I think is really unique.

What belt should I wear if I have a short torso?   

The quick answer is to opt for a skinny belt such as the Cala Belt.  But let me explain a bit more…

Skinny belts are perfect for petites especially cala snap belt.

If you have a short torso your challenge is to opt for clothing and apparel that give you more length and elongate you.   Typically wider belts will “break you”.  However, the shape of the Wrap Belt is more of a contoured shape (opposed to wide all the way across) which creates a more flattering illusion.

cover elastic seam lines on a dress with a belt and wear color on color for a monochromatic look

You can experiment and try it out, however, if you want to be on the safe side, you can opt for a Wrap Belt that is in the same color as your dress.  In other words, you’ll be using a belt to create an illusion of a waist but it won’t cut you at the waist.

I tried wearing belts with dresses in the past but I found them uncomfortable.  How are ADA belts different?

My design priority is to make every belt adjustable and comfortable. I use soft buttery Argentinean leather to make all the belts and I think of closures that will be adjustable though out the day as you’re standing up, sitting down, walking around, eating, etc.


The tie closure in the Wrap Belt allows you to place it and tie it as tight or loose as you’d like.

The Naomi belt is versatile and adjustable and perfect for breaking up prints.

The Cala Belt and Naomi belt are adorned with snaps so you can set it where you want it and snap.  Perhaps after a meal you may need to adjust it by a few snaps.  It’s all up to you and your comfort.

Would adding a belt to a printed dress be too much?

Actually, quite the contrary, a belt will help break up prints and give the eye a rest.  There are many prints in fashion right now from florals to leopard to ethnic prints and when paired with a belt they are so – much – easier to wear! And a bonus… belts are also a great way to combine and mix and match patterns (think inverse colors, prints in different sizes, and vibrant textures).

And of course many dresses today are very shapeless – at the same time you’re breaking up those prints you’re giving shape to a boxy dress.The Before and After look for adding a belt to a printed dress

 I wish I could do something different with my wedding dress. Can I use a belt?

YES! Adding a metallic belt will give your wedding dress an instant unique touch.  And a Wrap Belt could also be that tailoring touch for your brides maid dresses.  We have so many colors to choose from – you can really get fun and creative with the colors, textures and ties.


Did you find this blog post helpful?  If so, leave a comment below and let me know.  And if you have any additional questions on how to wear a belt with a dress or any other outfit in your wardrobe I’d like to hear from you too!

Additional related articles you may enjoy:

How to Wear the Cala Skinny Belt

Ada’s 3 Favorite Ways to Tie the Wrap Belt

Love your Wardrobe again: Simple Tips for Organizing your Closet