Often underestimated, the humble belt can elevate the simplest of outfits and do a lot more than just hold up your jeans. As spring and summer approaches, the accessory is a great way to refresh your transitional wardrobe.
Whether worn with a pair of high-waisted jeans or belted over a flowy dress, belts guarantee a more put-together look. A rare blend of functionality and fashion, they’re a staple that we all have – however old – nestled in our wardrobe.
They’re cross-seasonal too – and just as flattering worn over a coat in the winter as they are enlivening a mini dress in the summer.
All our picks are not just reliable options for holding up your trousers, but they all have the potential to be a statement piece. We looked for quality, style and comfort while sourcing options for all budgets and tastes.
From sustainable denim pieces and classic black belts to the vintage-inspired and those with double-buckle designs – fasten your look together with our edit of the best.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
E.L.V Denim mid blue denim belt with gold buckle
We’re already big fans of the ethical brand E.L.V Denim, which also featured in our round-up of the best sustainable denim brands. This belt is a flattering statement piece. Coming in a mid-blue with a lovely gold buckle, it’s fashioned from the spare denim that couldn’t be used to make clothing – reduce, reuse and recycle is the label’s mantra. Working in collaboration with accessories manufacturer Tura London, leftover leather has been matched with the denim to create this belt.
We embraced the double-denim look and paired it with jeans, but wearing it simply over a black mini dress would immediately elevate the outfit.
Buy now £85.00, Elvdenim.com
Asos Design leather half moon buckle belt
This black leather belt from the online giant Asos is a stylish yet simple way of accessorising a look. An essential in every wardrobe, you can’t go wrong with a plain black belt, and together with its matte black finish and classic skinny style, this affordable offering fits the bill. It’s made from 100 per cent leather and the belt’s white cross-stitching gives it subtle detail.
Its versatility lends it to wearing both with high-waisted jeans for a flattering, cinched-in look, with low-rise trousers, or even over a flowy dress. For just £14, this is the perfect everyday accessory that you’ll reach for again and again.
Buy now £14.00, Asos.com
Mango double buckle belt
We love the double-buckle detailing of this Western-inspired belt from Mango. With an earthy, pastel-brown tone, it compliments most denim shades and instantly elevated an everyday T-shirt-and-jeans outfit. We found the belt works particularly well with low-rise jeans or, alternatively, to cinch in a simple dress for a flattering silhouette.
There are only two holes on either side meaning there’s not much room for adjustability, so decide first what rise is best for you and choose a size accordingly. Coming in at under £20, it looks and feels far more luxurious than the price would suggest.
Buy now £19.99, Mango.com
Isabel Marant Lecce leather belt
Though pricey, this Isabel Marant belt is the perfect statement investment piece to add to your selection of accessories. The simple black leather style has a nice self-tie effect for an asymmetrical look. It works best over a dress, adding a statement detail to your outfit, though you can easily dress it down by pairing it with black jeans.
There are no holes in this one – simply pull one end through the slit and tie a knot. While perhaps more fashionable than functional, it’s still a piece you’ll return to again and again.
Buy now £125.00, Mytheresa.com
Reiss Hayley tan leather belt
Reiss’s 100 per cent leather belt in a tan colourway feels premium, and goes great with everything from jeans to dresses, for formal occasions or dressed-down weekends. Its slim design and the gold-tone metal detailing on the square-hinge fastening at the front lends itself nicely to being paired with high-waisted jeans and gold hoops.
The belt is fastened at the back with three holes and we found it to be true to size. Versatile and timeless, for just £60 this one is a sure investment that will see you beyond trends and seasons.
Buy now £60.00, Reiss.com
H&M long waist belt
Achieve a similar look to the Isabel Marant piece for much less with this H&M long waist belt. Also tapping into the asymmetric trend, it provides a twist on the standard black-and-skinny style while remaining an affordable option. Made from imitation suede, it’s designed to be worn long and dangling – simply twist over the tie. It’s versatile too, and looked just as good cinching in a coat as it did over a patterned mini dress.
This one comes with a decent number of holes so it’s good for adjustability, though keep in mind that it comes up quite small. The perfect way to finish off a look, this one is a steal at just £12.99.
Buy now £12.99, Hm.com
Sezane fétiche belt
This vintage-inspired belt from cult French brand Sezane is perfect for injecting a dose of Parisian chic into your wardrobe. It has a smooth, crocodile-style, embossed leather exterior and leather lining, while the antique-gold-finish brass buckle adds detail. Embrace the boho vibe of the belt by pairing it with a flouncy dress or flowy blouse.
Wide belts are a wardrobe staple and the shape of this one works just as well with flared jeans or belted over a blazer – you can’t go wrong.
Buy now £85.00, Sezane.com
Guess mika mika pant belt
This printed Guess belt is a statement – logo belts bearing a brand’s insignia, from Burberry to Dior, are a timeless way of elevating a simple outfit. This affordable option has a nice vintage feel to it and also comes in black, white and gold colourways.
Verging on preppy, it pairs well with basics or even belted over a black blazer, adding serious personality to an outfit.
Buy now £33.99, Zalando.co.uk
White Stuff yellow leather jeans belt
Animal-print belts are a great way of accessorising a monochromatic or neutral outfit. This zebra-print White Stuff option can create a punchy look when paired with a simple T-shirt and jeans. If you’re feeling bolder, cinch in a patterned dress for an arresting print clash. The black and white hues will pair with most things and it’s a good way of easing yourself into a bold print.
Made from 100 per cent ponyskin leather, the belt’s texture adds a nice touch to any outfit.
Buy now £22.50, Next.co.uk
M&S leather jean belt
This simple yet classic leather jean belt from high street stalwart M&S fits the bill in terms of both functionality and fashion. Skinny belts work well with both high- and low-waisted jeans and trousers. Understated and made with pure leather, this trusty and affordable option will pair with almost everything in your wardrobe – its tan colourway is a good bet for neutral outfit tones. At just £9.50, it’s a versatile and affordable option.
Buy now £9.50, Marksandspencer.com
The verdict: Women’s belts
Unique, functional and durable, the E.L.V Denim belt is the perfect statement accessory to add to your wardrobe. It immediately adds character to an outfit and looks just as flattering on casual clothes as it does on more formal outfits. Bonus points are given for the brand’s sustainable credentials and we love the up-cycling vision behind the belt.
For something classy and timeless, Reiss’s offering is a reliable option and a worthy investment.
For more staple items to add to your spring wardrobe, here’s our review of the best women’s high-waisted jeans, from flared to mom styles