Function to Fashion

From studded to swag, brutalist to bedazzled, leather to links, belts are an important accessory that have a rich history and have evolved throughout the centuries from functional and utilitarian to decorative fashion statements. Some of the very first belts were pieces of string that were tied around the waist to carry pouches. They were also worn in the military to simply carry tools and weapons. Throughout the years, with the ever-changing fashion trends, the handbag became a popular accessory so belts were no longer needed for function but worn rather for style and to enhance an outfit. As well, belts have played an important role culturally and in sports to signify ranking. It is one of the oldest pieces of clothing that continues to play a significant role. Here is a brief timeline of the evolution of one of our favorite accessories.

1940s 1950s Graphic

Waist belts were becoming more and more popular, although at this time, gloves and hats were also major accessories. The skinny belt had a place in fashion and was championed by Dior through his New Look. They were worn over dresses and suits to create a slender waist. They were made of cheaper materials during the war and many times the same fabric of the garment with cheap plastic buckles. During the 50’s, the main function of belts was to nip-in the silhouette like a corset to enhance the hips. Because of this trend, the lace front belt, also known as the shirred belt, was very popular and it eventually became wider and more of a statement.

 1960s- 1970s Graphic

This era was the rise of pushing boundaries, exploring, and working with new materials and silhouettes. Belts were made of natural materials like macrame, woven tapestry, and recycled fabrics which were responsible for the hippie look. Plastic and metal chain belts were very popular and were done in a variety of links styles like large rings which was known as the Space Age. It was a time of peace and love and looking to the future.

1980s-1990s graphic

Throughout the 80’s and early 90's, designers like Karl Lagerfeld embraced Hip Hop street fashion taking inspiration from Dapper Dan. Belts were done in a maximalist way, with large chains, big buckles, and logos. Chanel’s combination of leather and chain epitomized Parisian glamour and was of course reiterated by the likes of Escada and St. John and everyone else in between. More was more.

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