Vintage belts for practical and aesthetic purposeJuly 23, 2015
Do we really take vintage belts for granted, we reach for them when we need them to hold up our jeans, add a certain something to a dress, wrap around a baggy shirt and wear them whichever way that works.
They serve both a practical and aesthetic purpose.
Of course vintage belts have a history, a fine one going back a long way, worn by both soldiers and elegant Victorian ladies. In fact the Victorians may have been the first people to create the bum bag, by carrying their purses on a belt until the bag was invented. Of course soldiers wore belts as far back as the Greeks and Romans to help carry weapons and to hold their tunics in (something that certainly hasn’t gone out of style).
Belts have been thick or thin, with ornate buckles and without. At one time the embellishments on a belt signified your importance and if it was studded with diamonds and garnets,it demonstrated the importance of the wearer. For everyday wear, belts were made from cloth and then from leather, which was a hard wearing material suitable for work purposes. As manufacturing processes became more sophisticated, imitation leather become more popular as a cheaper alternative, making it more accessible to those on a tight budget.
Which Vintage belts are currently in vogue this season?
We’re talking the Obi belt, which was seen on the catwalk and hailed as THE belt to be seen in this spring and summer. Consisting of thick fabric or leather the Obi belt is cinched in at the waist and tied in a knot at the front. They can be thick and then narrow towards the end, so that you get a thick belt with a tie at the front, at the centre or to the side. You can also have them all the same length and again, tie at the front or side. The fabric belts come in a thicker material, such as that from a belt you’d wear for martial arts with subtle ribbing and again, tided at the front.
You can do vintage Obi belts easily and you can find ones that are infinitely better than those currently in vogue. Obi belts from the 70s and 80s are exquisite, in multi-coloured fabrics made from silk and cotton. If you look carefully, you can find original Japanese Obi belts too, made from cotton and in a variety of different colours. As is expected with vintage belts, an original, older version of an item currently in fashion is always much better, and far more unique. Of course, an obi belt is optional and you can wear whichever style of belt you want and make your own trends. Thin or thick, it’s entirely up to you.
The eighties is a particularly interesting period for vintage belts and a personal favourite, with a wide selection of different trends being worn at the same time. From thick soft leather belts, worn with a large same-colour buckle, to extremely thin imitation leather ones with narrow metal buckles, from different width to different fabrics. There were at least 10 belts trending at the time with skinny, fabric, metal, elastic, cord and cloth belts being among some of the most well-known.Different widths and buckles were all possible.
One particular belt that was on trend was the leather corset belt with small buckles at the front, a variation on the current obi belt theme and one that could be worn as an alternative to the more traditional Obi belt if you preferred.
Whichever type of vintage belts you like best, it’s the all-round accessory that’s versatile enough to be worn with anything, dressed up or down. It’s the wardrobe staple no one can be without, so belt up and cinch that waist in.