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Belting for Dummies (or, How to Create a Waist You Don’t Have)

I’ve always been suspicious of belts that don’t serve a concrete function. They were invented to keep your pants up, you know? Of course, as someone who’s read a women’s magazine or five, I’m well-aware that waist belts supposedly flatter the slimmest part of your body, etc. But the thing is, my waist isn’t that great. I’m very straight up and down, without much curve to speak of. That shapely indent that so many women have above their hips? For me, it’s just… stomach. I’ve got a very long, uneventful torso that sort of slides into my butt. Sure, there’s more than enough territory for belts, but I never thought they’d do much for me.

Enter MM’s brilliant stylist team. They’re belt-pushers, all of them. And ever since I joined this company, I’ve known that there would be a day of belt reckoning, when their joyful chorus of “Let’s try a belt with that!” would drift in my direction.

That time came a few weeks ago, when I was wrangled into a genuinely fun Facebook Live session that highlighted the wonders of our belts, among other things. And then something interesting happened: I actually liked the belt that Caroline and Sara put on me. Just a little bit—not a ton. But enough so that, a few days later, I agreed to be photographed in our latest belts for this post. It’s a slippery slope, I’m telling you.

So, without further ado—my belting debut, below.

1. The Masha dress + square belt

The Masha dress // MM.LaFleur

Me, feeling awkward in my Masha dress and square belt.

The Masha dress—an MM staple that nips in at the true waist—is absurdly, wonderfully, eat-a-burger-and-fries-for-lunch comfortable. It also has a horizontal seam that runs around your midsection so that ignoramuses like me can figure out where exactly a belt is supposed to go.

2. The Annie dress + Erne St belt

Annie dress // MM.LaFleur

Me, wondering why I’m wearing a tiny belt with my Annie dress.

I own the Annie dress, and wear it all the time. It seems fine on its own. Why make it more complicated than it needs to be?

The answer: You don’t have to. But it won’t kill you to have a little something extra—the cocktail umbrella in your rum punch, so to speak. And as super-stylist Caroline Brown always says, “A belt creates dimension.” Plus, it really does add polish—it made me feel downright ladylike, which is rare.

3. The Lydia dress + Greenwich Avenue belt

The Lydia Dress // MM.LaFleur

Me, not reading about the Lydia dress nor the Greenwich Avenue belt.

The Lydia dress is a friend to curvy women. I love it on almost everyone but myself, and have always been disappointed that it exposes me for the long rectangle that I really am. But then, the belt! It takes me from parallelogram to hourglass-in-training. I’ll take what I can get.

4. The Tory dress + reversible belt

Best Belts // MM.LaFleur

In the Tory dress with a reversible belt in tan.

Like the Masha (see #1), the Tory dress features its own built-in waistline. I’ve always thought that was plenty, but now that I’ve worn it with the skinny reversible belt, I may never go back.

5. The Winfrey top + Soho skirt + Broadway belt

The Soho top and Winfrey skirt // MM.LaFleur

Thinking hard about the Winfrey top, Soho skirt, and Broadway belt.

Now, for the trickiest step: the skirt-top-belt combo. But if I can wear jeans, a belt, and a shirt—my standard uniform—I should be able to handle this, right?

Almost too right. I was extremely comfortable in the Winfrey top and Soho skirt, which are so soft—as we’ve previously described them—that they’re basically one step away from pajamas. The Broadway belt was the cherry on top of feeling so relaxed that I almost dozed off in this cushy sheepskin throw, shown above. The takeaway: I might even try this belting stuff at home.

Photos by Yan Ruan.

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Charlotte Cowles is a New York-based writer​ ​and editor.​ ​Her work has been published in New York Magazine,​ Harper's Bazaar,​ and Art in America. She'd always rather be at book club. Read more of Charlotte's posts.

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