During the Renaissance, the belt came into it’s own as a women’s fashion accessory. Bodices and corsets were becoming less common. Instead, many were replaced with tunics cut from lighter, softer, and easier materials that were cinched in with a belt. This new way of creating the illusion of a tiny waist was much more comfortable for women (and likely better for their health.)
Once belts had become a more mainstream accessory for women, belt designs became “softer” and more feminine. Such belts were often made from elegant fabrics and decorated with embellishments. This way of wearing belts continued for the next few centuries. For instance, in the 1850’s, many women wore dresses with sashes cut from matching fabrics tied around their waists.
Belts went out of style in women’s fashion for a brief period in the 1920’s- the flapper style favored a dropped waist, no belt required. The belt made a return by the 1930’s however, and as fashion trends began to change more rapidly, so did belt styles.
In the 1950’s for example, thin, simple belts were all the rage as Christian Dior’s new look called for a nipped-in waist. Chain belts draped loosely around the waist were a hallmark of 1970’s fashion. Low-rise hip-hugger jeans of the late 90’s and early 2000’s were frequently paired with statement belts. While belt styles may change with the trends, this is a staple accessory that will always be around.