Belts are the unsung heroes in the accessories department. They can give definition to any outfit—sari, jacket, skirt or dress—but are unforgiving if not worn right.

Belts abound this season. Sabyasachi Mukherjee showcased them with leopard clasps over floor-skimming floral skirts at his 1970s inspired Big Love show at Lakmé Fashion Week’s (LFW’s) Summer/Resort edition in March. Payal Pratap and Nikhil Thampi used dramatic Japanese-style obi belts. Thampi also experimented with thin versions criss-crossed across long gowns, while Pratap styled them on her kimono-kurta and saris. Tarun Tahiliani used cummerbund-style belts over dresses and saris, while Anamika Khanna’s gold belts supplied a dramatic flourish to differently draped sari pallus. Kiran Uttam Ghosh’s slim belts came with gilded jackets over a dupatta and a cape-like kurta. New talent Shweta Kapur jazzed up a casual monochrome white jumpsuit with a broad white belt for some spunk.

Globally, at the Spring/Summer 2015 shows, Dolce & Gabbana accessorized their elaborate Sicilian “mamma" dresses with ornate trophy belts, while Chanel let it hang with low-slung hip belts. Rather oddly, Rochas showcased feminine dresses worn with webbed military belts cinched high above the bust—a trend worth mentioning, if only for its sheer absurdity. However, the most popular trend for optimum waist-whittling benefits was the versatile obi belt seen in many avatars at BCBG, Rebecca Taylor and Alexander Wang, among others. Artistic renditions of the harness belt also made a comeback at Dior, Rodarte and Giorgio Armani. We offer some tips on how you can be elegantly waisted.

Nikhil Thampi, designer

Indian women are curvaceous so the belt must wisely highlight the narrowest part of the torso. The 4-inch metallic obi belt is perfect to hide flab. For a curvaceous girl, I suggest a skinny belt over a long maxi dress, just under the bust. Sometimes, a belt works well to highlight the cut of a smoking jacket. Be careful while using a belt. Less is more. Avoid printed belts on a busy dress. Neon belts as well as those with narrow, 1-inch versions with big buckles need to be fully done away with. A belt is an accessory, it shouldn’t be the USP. Also, avoid creating a double waist. If you are wearing a low-cut pant/skirt, don’t add a second waist by using a belt.

Payal Pratap, designer

A belt is a versatile accessory but use it only if you really feel it would accentuate your attire. An obi belt is rather wide and will suit a tall torso. It can be worn with a tunic, shirt or jacket for dramatic effect. Skinny people are blessed with a small waist so they can carry off both a thin or thick belt, but only if the garment requires it. For a curvaceous woman, a thin belt works better.

Use different ways of knotting to increase functionality and variety (reversible belts are a great buy!). If you do choose to wear a belt, have the confidence to carry it off. Nothing is worse than a forced belt on an under-confident woman. Avoid belts on cocoon shaped garments or anti-fit silhouettes.

Melika Imoru, design director, womenswear,

Belts are required either for styling or functional purposes. Personally, I think it is possible to wear most belts with most body shapes. A slim individual can wear a belt on the hip to accentuate her shape/curves, while a curvaceous girl can wear it at the start of the waist as this will flatter her physique. Just remember, the belt should not be too tight. It should be like a shoe—comfortable. So a good fit is everything!

Tarun Tahiliani, designer

A belt ought to be cinched at the waist for the perfect look. After all, that is the best part of a woman’s body. A belt will instantly turn a simple outfit into something sexy, stylish and young. Belts can be used over saris by slim and tall people. The Indian and Greek styles of dressing are all about draping—and both are very similar. They usually wear waistbands over gowns so these belts work to add that extra bit of Indo-Western look to a sari.

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