No matter your size or shape, here's how to make a belt work for your figure. 

By Rebecca Daly
Updated October 08, 2009
Anya Kroencke

Ah, belts. Simple in concept (a leather strap that holds pants in place), tricky in execution (what shape, style, and color is most flattering and works with which outfits?). Luckily, it’s hard to go wrong with this accessory. The addition of a belt—even if your pants stay in place on their own, thankyouverymuch—almost always has the added benefit of drawing positive attention to your waistline, while adding that perfect finishing touch to your look. We asked style expert Ricci DeMartino to weigh in on what to look for in a belt if you happen to be thicker through the middle.

“A belt is an instant waist creator,” says stylist Ricci DeMartino.

Here’s what to keep in mind: A wide belt that is contoured (or cut on a curve, so that it looks like a smile when laid down) will give an undefined torso a nice shape. “If it’s made of thick elastic, it can even act as a girdle,” says style authority Bridgette Raes. Steer clear of skinny styles. “A wide belt will suck you in more,” says DeMartino.

Keep your overall look monochromatic and sleek by choosing a belt in a shade similar to that of your clothes. Position the belt slightly below the waist, close to the pelvic bone. Anywhere else will call attention to the tummy. Wear the belt over something soft that you can blouse slightly above the buckle. That way, the extra fabric can hide the fullness around your middle.