You probably have lots of belts in your closet. You’re used to wearing them with pants, after all. Heck, you’ve probably bought pants that came with belts. But what about wearing a belt with a coat? Do you know how to make this look good, what types of belts your should wear, what kind of coats you can wear it with and all the other stuff that goes into this next-level styling trick? How should you wear a belt with a coat? Find out and take your winter style to a new level of fashionable.
Belts, the Beginning
The very first belts were worn by Bronze Age people, though the practice of using cords to secure clothing to the body dates back to the earliest days of mankind. In the Stone Age days, it was quite common to lash clothing onto the body with cordage. By the Bronze Age, clothing was a little more refined and proper belts were being worn. Even these early belts were highly practical, however, designed not to keep pants in place but to hold various implements. These early belts were worn to carry all sorts of hand tools and everyday items, such as drinking horns. Mostly, these belts were made with bark that was softened, shaped and allowed to harden.
Thankfully, belts evolved. Soon, they were made of strips of fabric and leather, rather than bark. Belts soon spread throughout the ancient world. Clothing in these days did not have pockets, so the belt was a perfect solution. This allowed you to take all your small everyday items around with you easily. In ancient Rome, it became the fashion to wear two belts to hold even more stuff.
Naturally, belts soon evolved to become sword holders. The sword had become the most common everyday implement that soldiers and others needed to wear and carry with them all the time. The belt was a perfect way to keep the sword ever-ready at the hip.
Ultimately, pockets and purses did develop and become a regular part of fashion. The world changed and it became far less necessary to walk around with an ax everywhere. And soon, belts were no longer needed to hold tools so much. In the Middle Ages, belts could be worn purely for the sake of style…and they were.
People in the medieval era embraced belt fashion. In fact, belts became a status symbol and even a symbol for rank or position in some cases. Wealthier people wore quite intricate, embellished belts made with expensive materials, such as silver and gold and fine leather. People with less money wore ropes, braided cords and belts made with materials that were much easier to get.
Belts in the medieval era were still used to hold small items, such as the small purses that would eventually become pockets that were sewn right into clothing. But in the Renaissance, belts became purely made for style. Women in particular embraced the belt, wearing heavily embellished designs. The trend quickly became popular, as women liked the fact that the belt made their waists look smaller. Belts are still worn for this effect.
Belt style continued to explode and as more materials became available in fashion, such as plastics and synthetic materials. Belts have evolved to reflect changing styles over the decades and continue to be a cornerstone of all fashion. Because while the pants and the shirts and dresses and coats all matter, it’s the belts that hold all these other things together!
Who Wore the First Coat?
While one designer has been given credit for the mini skirt and you can point to some British lord who was once responsible for inventing the rain boot, it’s impossible to really say who invented the coat. The first outerwear was probably first put on back in the Stone Age, when some caveperson threw on an extra fur wrap over the fur and leather outfit they were already wearing. After all, it was the Ice Age…so it was pretty darn cold outside.
The first coats were probably capes, just large pieces of fur or leather that were draped around the shoulders and knotted closed. Garments dating to about 15,000 B.C.E. have been discovered that could be classified as early coats. But these garments would have many thousands of years to become more refined.
Cape-like coats continued to be popular through antiquity. Ancient Greeks and Romans wore a piece of fabric draped around their shoulders and around their arms. Roman soldiers wore short capes pinned at one shoulder. Capes evolved into larger, thicker cloaks. Hooded cloaks became popular in the Middle Ages and styles became fancier, often embellished with fur and elaborate stitching. Capes of all kinds continued to be popular as well.
Outerwear Gets Fashionable
But fashion could do better. In the late Middle Ages, around the late 1400s, it had become the style to wear a sort of open outer gown that was displayed on top of the dress or doublet the person was already wearing. Henry VIII, the king who famously cut off his wives’ heads, wore this style in the early 1500s. These were sort of the grandparents of the later coats and jackets that would still take a couple of hundred years to develop.
It wasn’t until the late 1600s that actual sleeved coats first became widely worn. This began with the greatcoat, also known as a surtout. It’s not quite known where this garment originated but fashion legend says that it started with French coachmen, who wore the greatcoat to stay warm while riding on coaches. It was the English, however, who made the greatcoat popular.
In England, the greatcoat became trendy with people from all walks of life. More tailored and embellished styles appeared in the wealthier classes, while working professionals adopted more casual styles made with readily-obtainable fabrics. Greatcoats were full, long, loose coats with collars and often, a cape-like embellishment around the shoulders.
Shorter jacket styles and women’s coat styles soon developed in the late 1700s and that was that. Coats with sleeves were the thing to wear. The style exploded. Now, you probably own several coats. You probably have coats you forgot you have. So get out your coats and your belts and start playing around with this style that was centuries in the making.
Types of Coats You Can Belt
You don’t have to stretch your imagination too far to picture a coat with a belt, probably. After all, the classic trenchcoat is almost always made with a belt. A trench coat that doesn’t have one is known as a beltless trenchcoat, so that goes to show you how much the belt is a part of the coat. However, you can wear a belt with just about any coat you want to wear. There are some exceptions, of course. Wearing a belt with a puffer coat isn’t likely to look great but you can even attempt to pull this off if you really want it. For now, stick to belts that actually work really well with multiple styles of coats so you can start playing around with your chic outerwear style.
Capelet coats are designed to be worn with a belt and will usually have a belt already attached to them or included with them. These coats are designed to cinch around the waist with a belt and flare out from them, ending around the mid-thigh. Another characteristic of this coat is the little half care that drapes over the back and shoulders. It’s attached to the coat under the dress shirt-style collar. Capelet coats are made to fit around the waist and will usually have belt looks and a matching belt. However, you can always switch things up a bit and remove the belt so that you can put a different one in the loops. This can be a fun and easy way to add color to your coat.
Duster coats are definitely the look of classic western movies. These coats are full-length and go all the way to the ground, which is why they’re called dusters. They’re so long they “dust” the ground as you walk. Duster coats typically have a very simple design with a short collar, no lapels and a straight design. Duster coats work perfectly with belts and often have belts included so the coat can be cinched. It is a popular look to wear a duster wide open, however, even though this seems to defeat the entire point of wearing a coat.
Frock coats are often worn with evening wear. These coats are highly suitable as formal clothing when well-made. Frock coats are often made with fur or faux fur trim around the wide collar and wide cuffs. The frock coat has buttons down the front to fit more snugly around the torso. It is well-fitting at the waist and then gets wider over the hips. The coat has a wide drape before it ends around knee-length. Because it’s made to have a fitted waist, the frock coat is very easy to wear with a belt. Some frock coats may even be sold with a matching belt attached, while other designs are made to be worn with no belt. You can always add one if you want to add a little more interest to your winter look.
The pea coat is a classic outerwear choice that’s distinct for its double row of buttons down the front. The pea coat is made to fit somewhat wide around the body and ends around the hips. However, you can absolutely add a belt and make this coat a little more form-fitting if you like. Choose a belt that’s made with pretty sturdy material. Pea coats are made to be thick and they’re made to fit loose, so you’re going to be pulling the belt around a lot of heavy fabric. A chain belt or wide leather belt will work well when you want to take your coated belt style to the next level.
Princess coats are made to be long and fitted at the waist, with a very wide collar that spreads out almost to the shoulders. Princess coats are knee-length or longer, with a flaring bottom half and a fitted waist. Because these coats are already made to fit around the waist and hug your natural shape a little, it’s easy to add a belt to this coat to help emphasize your waist a little more and make it look even smaller.
Swing coasts are made with a double row of buttons down the front, somewhat like the pea coat, but they’re made to be a little more form-fitting. Swing coats also have a high, straight collar and an A-line silhouette, with the fabric below the waist coming out in a slightly wide design. Swing coats usually end around mid-thigh. Because they fit around the waist already, swing coats were made to be worn with belts.
Trench coats, of course, are the classic belted coat. Worn by men, women, children and everyone else, trench coats are long coats with wide lapels and a wide collar that are at least knee length and sometimes even longer. Trench coats are made in single- or double-breasted designs that have a single or double row of buttons and a matching belt included. Trench coats that are made without belts are known as beltless trench coats and fit like a long column. You can add a belt to a beltless trench coat anytime you want.
Wrap coats are made to look like trench coats with wide collars that attach to lapels. These coats are made to wrap around you cross-body style and they have a matching belt included to keep the coat closed. Wrap coats have no buttons, so the belt is the only way to keep it closed. You can wear this style open and loose, but all the excess fabric can make this a little uncomfortable. Since wrap coats are made to wrap around you, they are large and have lots of fabric.
Different Ways to Wear a Belt
Since the first cave person put on the first foot coverings in order to step out into the big world, fashion has been about experimenting, being creative and making stuff that’s comfortable to wear and nice to look at. From that first caveperson to you, everyone has the ability to do something new with style, to create fashion trends or to become a fashionista. So how should you wear a belt with a coat? However the heck you want, of course. But you can start by playing around with different ways to wear a belt with a coat that others have tried. Give these looks a shot and soon, you might be coming up with your very own belted coat fashion looks.
Just Wear It
You can always simply wear a belt the standard way, whether your coat has an attached belt or you’ve decided to add one on your own. This means the belt should sit at your natural waist near the belly button. Wear the belt around the narrowest part of your waist and pull it closed using the existing buckle or knot it to secure it. Close the belt right in the front of your body at the midpoint. this is a classic look and of course, it’s super easy to wear.
Though not every coat has buttons, there are several styles that do. If you’re going to wear a belt anyway, try leaving the coat completely unbuttoned and relying on the belt alone to close your coat. You can add warmth up top with a big scarf and create a layered winter look that’s still form-fitting and stylish. Leaving the coat open allows you to show off some of the outfit you have on under the coat.
Tie your coat belt the same sort of way you’d tie your bathrobe, by wrapping one side of the belt around your body all the way to the opposite hip. Take the second end of the belt, knot it and tuck one end behind and over the other. This will create a slightly off-center belt tie that becomes part of your outfit. This is a pro styling tip. Closing the belt over the hip rather than in the center of the waist has a slimming effect on the silhouette.
Tie at the Back
Why not flip the idea of wearing a belt on its head? Okay, on its back. On your back. Nevermind, you get it. Take the belt around to the back of your body and tie it loosely back here. The most important word here is “loosely.” Remember that you will need to get back out of your coat and you will have to undo this knot with both hands literally behind your back. However, the look is worth a little extra struggle. This keeps the belt knot and/or buckle out of your way to create a more streamlined visual in the front of your body while having the added bonus of adding some texture to the back of your outfit. Just practice undoing the belt a couple times before you go out.
Let It Fly
You actually don’t have to secure the belt at all if you’re wearing a coat that has the belt attached or you’re wearing a coat with belt loops. You can always just leave the belt undone. But if you do this, the coat won’t be closed and it won’t be serving its intended purpose of keeping you warm. Wear an extra layer under your coat to give you extra warmth.
Types of Belts to Wear With Coats
So, wearing a belt with a coat sounds like a stylish way to be. You know what kind of coats to wear, a few different ways to wear your belt…now, what type of belts should you be wearing? There are lots and lots of types of belts out there but there are a few styles that work better with coats than others.
Chain belts made out of metal never seem to completely fade from the style scene and you may have a couple already hanging in your closet. Try wearing them with a long coat. This adds a delicate touch of texture and a lot of interest to the coat, in addition to defining your waist and emphasizing your shape. Metal chain belts won’t clash with the colors of the coat you’re wearing and they add a touch of elegance and shine to your outerwear look.
The most common types of belts worn with coats are fabric belts. This is because many coats come with fabric belts that are made of the same color and material of the coat itself. However, you don’t have to stick with this convention and wear belts that match the color of your coat. It’s always fun to create some contrast or add a complementing color to an outfit with a belt. Play with textures by choosing a belt made with a different fabric than the fabric of the coat.
Leather belts of all kinds work beautifully with many different styles of coats. Try a skinny leather belt, a wide leather belt, a belt in basic black or something in a vivid color. Leather is a great go-to fashion material because it pairs so well with anything else you might be wearing. There are plenty of ethical leather and faux leather options out there, too.
How Should You Wear a Belt with a Coat?
There are lots of different ways to wear a belt with a coat and so many different combinations you can try to play with this style. Many different styles of coats work well with belts and there are lots of different belt designs that are going to look great with the coats you choose. Play around with this combination to find some styles that work for you…and impress everyone with your chic winter style.
With so many different options when it comes to picking out which coats to wear with which belts, outerwear fashion is pretty exciting! It’s also kind of confusing. If you still have questions about belts, coats and wearing the both together, no problem. We’ve got the answers to the most commonly asked questions about styling belts with coats.
Are coats with belts in style?
You know how to wear belts with your coats but should you even bother? Is it stylish to wear a coat with a belt? To answer the question, look no further than the classic trench coat. This coat style is still seen all over social media and fashion websites constantly. Look around in fall and winter and you’ll see plenty of trench coats on city streets. As long as the trench coat is in style, wearing a coat with a belt is in style.
How do belt keepers work?
Do you need a belt keeper for your belts? What is a belt keeper? Should you have one and what if you don’t? Don’t worry. You probably don’t need a belt keeper at all. Belt keepers are designed to keep belts from sliding out of place while you’re wearing them. However, this is only helpful if you’re wearing a belt that has a lot of heavy stuff attached to it and you’re also engaging in a lot of motion while you’re wearing it. Belt keeps are worn by police officers and others who wear utility belts. Heavy utility belts can shift and move because the wearer is often engaged in a lot of activity. This makes belt keepers necessary. For the purposes of everyday fashion, however, belt keepers just aren’t needed.
How are belt sizes measured?
What is your belt size? Are there sizes of belts? How do you find yours? Are you supposed to stand there and put them on or what? It can feel pretty overwhelming if you’re looking at a huge rack of belts. Anyone might have lots of questions. Your belt size is actually very easy to figure out. It’s two inches longer than the size of your waist. If you measure your waist all the way around at its slimmest point, which will usually be around the belly button, you will get your waist measurement. Add two inches to this and you have your belt size. Your belt can’t really be shorter than this or it won’t fit. Much longer than this and you’ll end up with an excess belt that just looks bad.
Once you know your belt size, look at the backside of belts near the belt buckle. This is usually where you will find the size displayed, either on a tag or imprinted onto the backside of the belt. Sticking to your size will make it easier to shop for belts and it will ensure that your belts look good on your when you wear them.
Should your belt match your shoes?
You may have heard that it’s a “rule” of fashion to match your belt to your shoes. This is a good style tip if you want a little help putting together a matched look. However, it’s not a rule that you have to follow. Your belt should definitely match something that you have on, whether it’s your purse or your jewelry, a scarf or a piece of clothing you’re wearing. Your shoes and belt don’t have to match each other all the time but they do need to match something you’re wearing. This is all you need to do to create a great matched look.
How should your coat fit?
Knowing how your coat should fit is absolutely essential. If your coat doesn’t fit well, it’s going to look terrible. Pay attention to specific areas of the coat to know if you’ve got the right fit. First, does it fit through the shoulders? The shoulders of the coat should sit at your natural shoulders. There should not be a lot of extra room but the shoulders should also not be so tight that you can’t put both arms in front of you, hands reaching out, comfortably. The coat should not be restrictive or tight around the body anywhere, in fact. You should still be able to twist and move naturally, even when your coat is belted.
A coat that fits your body is always going to look better than one that doesn’t, not even if you have a very high-quality, luxury coat. Always look for a good fit first, because the fit is what makes the coat. Once you have a coat that fits well and a few belts to embellish it with, you’ve got a great toolkit to create head-turning fall and winter style.
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