Everyone has a waistline, but it might be, um, hidden. No worries. You can create the illusion of an hourglass shape, even without using a belt. Of course, belts are the quickest way to define your waistline. That's why they've become wildly popular. But if you're a bit busty, short-waisted or sport an "apple" figure, a belt may not work for you. Here are some techniques to get a sleek silhouette without resorting to a belt.
Boxy boyfriend blazers may crowd the racks at clothing stores, but if you want to spotlight a feminine shape, pass them over for styles with contoured seams and nipped-in waists.
Because blazers usually are made from thicker material than blouses, they do a fabulous job of creating structure. Be sure to pick a blazer length that works with your height and proportions; longer lengths for taller gals, shorter versions for petites. Aim for single-breasted styles with one or two buttons for an updated, contemporary silhouette. Wear a fitted blazer with a full or A-line skirt to create an hourglass shape, or with skinny jeans for a sleek modern look.
Wraps aren't nearly as foolproof as some style gurus have claimed, but they do work wonders on certain bodies. The dresses can create the illusion of a waist on tall, curve-free figures, flatter the natural contours of women with hourglass frames and carve out a waist on figures with defined hips. And wraps, which tend to be made from fabric, are more forgiving than stiff leather belts.
A fitted vest can define a waist as well as a blazer, but without having to worry about the right fit in the sleeves and shoulders. The best style for definition is cut fairly low to allow for the bust, then narrows sharply at the waist. In addition to creating a feminine shape, a vest can rein in a voluminous top or dress and act as external corset. Pair a fitted vest with jeans or cargo pants to appease your inner tomboy, or a flowy dress for a Boho-inspired look.
The '90s-era dress clip may have gone the way of the stirrup pant, but some blouses and dresses still feature back ties. The long, slender ribbons of fabric are stitched onto a garment at the back to allow its width to be adjusted. Because back ties typically fall at the natural waist, they can be cinched in to accentuate the narrowest part of the torso. One note of caution: Back ties are a bit old-fashioned, so consider adding a more current item to update your outfit.
Dresses, jackets and fitted, button-front shirts with princess seams are a wonderful option for women who want to hint at shapely curves without drawing too much attention to their midsections. This style features an arc of stitching that swoops into a garment's bodice from either side, subtly but effectively defining the waist. Don't add other layers on top of clothing with princess seams. Keep the seams -- and your waist -- visible.
When worn open, cardigans, dusters and other outer layers often mask the curve of the waist. But fastening one or two buttons -- typically just below the bustline -- will work wonders toward defining a curvy silhouette. Experiment to see what looks best on your body. Remember to add accessories and jewelry to polish off your ensemble.