Why a Belt Wardrobe is Key for Fall*
*As edited By Quintessentials
Women’s belts are often an afterthought, but there’s much to be gained in building a
smart collection, especially this coming season
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By MEENAL MISTRY
Aug. 7, 2015 4:18 p.m. est
NOT LONG AGO, a friend asked Davinia Wang where to find a basic black leather belt. Ms. Wang, the owner of high-end accessories shop Edon Manor in downtown New York, is a logical person to ask.
It wasn’t easy, however, for her to provide an answer. “I was like, ‘I have no idea,’ ” said Ms. Wang. “My only suggestion was to go to Hermès and get one without the H on it.”
Though Ms. Wang carries shoes, bags, sunglasses and small leather goods, she stopped carrying the sole belt range she had been stocking—Azzedine Alaïa waist-cinchers—a couple of years ago. (They had been selling
respectably but she decided to take a break from working with the brand.) Since then, however, she hasn’t felt the need to add another belt line. Her clientele doesn’t miss them.
Women’s belts are a strange beast. Unlike men’s belts, a pragmatic way to hold up pants, most women’s belts are a style flourish. Ergo, they’re often an afterthought, which makes them difficult to sell—and therefore to buy. Even if you’re only looking for a belt to secure your jeans, finding one that meets a certain fashion standard can be tough.
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“I’ve gone out as a consumer to find a basic brown or black belt,” said Leila Yavari, fashion director of e-commerce site Stylebop, “and I couldn’t find what I was looking for.” Stylebop only carries a few styles—waist-cinchers from Alexander McQueen and ones with western buckles from DSquared2.Surprisingly even fashion-forward New York boutique Kirna Zabete only carries two brands: Alaïa and Maison Boinet, an old French label, recently discovered by owners Sarah Easley and Beth Buccini , that makes beautiful classic belts for a great price, around $200. (Ms. Wang’s friend and Ms. Yavari should take note.) “We have a limited belt business,” said Ms. Easley. “It’s not a big market for us or anyone else
”And that’s too bad. Women may not rely on a belt the way men do, but it can be quite useful in creating an ensemble. Even that simple brown leather belt adds polish, looped into jeans with a tucked-in shirt. You can pull together a ho-hum pencil skirt and blouse with a wide waist-cincher, transform a plain day dress into something cocktail worthy with a jeweled evening belt or tone down the dressiness of a floaty chiffon frock by adding a braided leather belt.
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For belt inspiration, look no further than the fall runways. Céline, Marc Jacobs and Chloé showed belted coats. At Altuzarra, lean skirts were worn with fierce studded belts, and at Louis Vuitton, the cool-girl models had hip-slung chain belts.
The good news is that there are places to buy fashionable belts. Net-a-Porter carries everything from a 9½-inch-wide, laser-cut Alaïa corset belt for $2,870 to a slim Étoile Isabel Marant leopardprint calf-hair one for $175 that you might find yourself looping into white jeans or black trousers a few times a week.
E-commerce site MatchesFashion has long had a strong, ontrend belt selection. “We try and cater to the fashion girl and look at what is happening for the season,” said buying director Natalie Kingham. For fall, that means London label Roksanda’s sculptural discs of rose gold secured by a leather strap and the newly hip Gucci GG-hardware belt, seen in the debut show of designer Alessandro Michele.
New York designer Adam Lippes is proof that a good belt can have legs. The slim belt with a sleek brass buckle he made for his pre-fall collection has sold in the “hundreds and hundreds.” A black version is nearly sold out on Net-a-Porter. Though Mr. Lippes made it to complement his own specific designs, it’s simple enough to work with much of your wardrobe. “That’s important for anything a woman buys today,” he said. “To ask ‘What else can I wear this with?’ ” Sounds like a good bet for your nascent belt collection.
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*As edited By Quintessentials