When did belts stop being known solely for their functional purpose of keeping your pants securely around your waist? What made the belt a fashion commodity and veritable artist’s palette for creative expression, funky styles, and experimentation?
It’s interesting to observe how an object’s intended purpose and primary use can change so drastically.
Everybody is wearing belts these days. Like shoes and purses, belts now come in every style, color, and material imaginable – from ruffled to snakeskin, denim to rainbow, canvas to silver.
The belt has journeyed far in the fashion world in the last century. Belts used to be black and brown, always coordinating with one’s shoes – which didn’t really make sense, since no one saw your belt anyways. I have a pale pink belt from Gap that matches NOTHING in my wardrobe. I bought it on sale a few years ago. I didn’t worry about the color because I didn’t intend for it to ever see daylight. My belt collection included – until about a year ago – conventional brown and black belts, too.
But nothing fun, until I visited Heartbreaker in Uptown (Minneapolis) and fell in love with a stretchy gray belt with snaps. No belt buckle! I was hooked. Since then, I’ve worn that belt with practically everything I own – on TOP, as an accessory. Because that’s the way to wear belts these days.
The belt’s image has gone from boring and practical to ornamental and decorative in recent years – you can wear a belt with virtually any outfit. Swimsuit? Sure! Prom dress? Why not? I’ve even seen websites selling belts to wear with wedding dresses.
I will admit I love the belt trend. But it’s mystifying at the same time. If a belt’s purpose is to be worn through pant loopholes around your waist, it’s humorous that the younger generation has found ways to wear it in any way BUT for its intended purpose.
Now when we think “belt,” the picture is much more hazy. Oh, the possibilities! Maybe men’s belts have maintained their functional connotation. But for the women’s belt, the sky – and your budget – is the limit.
Progress is progress. The belt trend might be a bit excessive and vain, but I’m a convert. Anyone else?
– Idea credit for this blog post to the lovely Karen Patterson, accomplished blogger and adept belt-wearer.