Belt bags are fashionable this year. They come in styles for casual dressing all the way through to smart style. So take a look at my personal favorites at the end of this post. (I may receive a small commission at no cost to you if you buy via these links – thankyou!).
These are all bags a woman well over fifty can wear – or her daughter!
The featured image above is of the Coach Alie belt bag.
What is a belt bag?
There are various names for this style of bag but unless I want to get my advertisers to run for the hills I won’t mention them. Let’s just say the American name is used by Brits for something much less on show than a cute little bag. And the British English word suggests someone who’d never be seen dead in this year’s fashion!
So most retailers and designers have decided to go for the much more acceptable name of belt bag.
The last time we really saw belt bags as a fashion item was in the eighties. As jogging became popular people needed somewhere to keep their cash and other little items. Along came a narrow pouch attached to a belt to sling around your waist. These bags were lightweight. And they echoed the bright colors of the shellsuits and sportswear at the time.
But small belts worn on the waist have a long history. People have used them for money and to carry precious gems and other things they want to keep away from prying eyes since the middle ages – and probably much further back in time than that.
Backpackers and tourists took up the style in the nineties for the same reasons as those travellers and merchants in the Middle Ages. They used belt bags for security for their cash, cards and passport.
Then suddenly the belt bag became a fashion statement again.
But this time the bag is in leather – real or faux – or canvas or even fur, as well as lightweight nylon. And people are showing off their bag rather than hiding it under an anorak. Of course designer logos are everywhere.
Why a belt bag is perfect for older women
Today it’s not just cash we want to stow. It’s our phone, credit card, door key, car key, glasses, lipstick and face mask.
Yes, the handbag is the obvious place for these items. But don’t you find, as you get older, that you absolutely adore going hands-free? You can hold the dog’s lead or hold a glass of chardonay. You can give your grandkids a proper hug without taking your coat off and perching your handbag first. You can use both hands to use your phone.
Oh the joys of hands-free go on and on.
I love being able to put my glasses on and consult my diary or phone without a big hoo-ha. With a handbag I usually have to stop walking when my phone rings. With a belt bag I can unzip it fast, retrieve my phone and my glasses, and see who’s contacting me without finding a park bench to sit on.
When to wear a belt bag
I love the fact that today’s belt bags are for both men, women and everyone else too.
There are nylon belt bags for sports. Wear one for countryside walks or cycle rides. No need to put on that jacket just because you need pockets. No need to add more weight than you need by wearing a backpack either.
If you are shopping or sightseeing you could upgrade to a neat leather or vegan leather pouch. These bags close well with a zip or magnet so no need to hide them away under clothes to feel your credit cards are safe.
If you are at an outside event or party and all dressed up then the right belt bag can make those canapes and barbecued nibbles so much easier to manage. A small neat bag will look chic and up to date.
How to style a belt bag
Across the shoulder bag
Belt bags can be worn as cross body bags too.
Men generally wear them like this. And they often sling them so the actual bag is across their back.
You can do the same. Yes, even with a summer dress. Just choose a pretty bag.
But lots of people wear these bags slung across their front. This looks hip. Again this style can be worn with a smart suit or a chic dress.
Personally I like the look of a slung belt bag with a shirt and jeans. It gives an interesting line across the body and distracts from your waist.
On the waist bag
If you wear the bag on your waist you will also slightly camouflage any extra weight you are carrying on your middle. The bulk of a bag, especially a pouch style bag, centred on your waist makes it well-nigh impossible to know if there’s a little tummy there or not.
A neat purse-like bag can look good at the centre or to one side of your waist.
If you go for a structured bag and a leather strap you will look stunning in anything from a smart outfit for an evening event to neat business attire right the way through to a white tee and blue denim jeans.
How to choose a belt bag
Always check the length of the belt before selecting which bag to buy. Some belts are adjustable. But others are kept neat by offering three sizes of belt, with each having just a little leaway to make it longer or shorter.
A nylon bag is ideal for sports and outdoors. Perfect for walking the dog – a place to keep his little bags and his training treats. Look at the Fjallraven bag and the Kipling bags below. Both are lightweight, easy to unzip and inexpensive.
A leather pouch looks good for outdoors or round town. It marks you out from someone who should be on their way to a yoga class. You can even ride on one of those scooters and look totally connected! Look at the Aimee Kestenberg bag, the DKNY faux leather pouch and the gorgeous Mulberry Urban belt bag below. Cool, chic and casual.
A structured bag looks smart for work wear or to upstyle jeans. Look for a good leather belt, if possible a little wider than most, as you may be wearing this bag all day. Look at the Steve Madden faux leather quilted bag below for an inexpensive take on a smart well-known style. And look at the Radley woven leather bag which adds a feminine vibe to a suit, jeans or even a summer frock. The Marks and Spencer medium leather belt bag will honestly take you anywhere from sightseeing to city shopping and a garden party to a presentation to clients at work.
A bag with a designer logo is a great way to give a luxe look to your outfit without spending a fortune. Try a simple tee with a midi skirt or Mom jeans from a retailer such as Marks and Spencer’s or Madewell. Add the designer bag and possibly an open jacket depending on the weather. Now you look totally chic! The bag is the bling so don’t add more than a pair of simple hoop earrings or a gold bracelet. Look at the Coach monogrammed bag, the DKNY pouch and the Guess bags below. They sport well-recognized designer logos and cover three different price points.
My favorite belt bags 2021
Here are my picks of the belt bags I would love to wear – and I’m over 70.
You’ll see the prices if you roll over each image. Or click the image to go to the retailer’s site and get full details and reviews.
Because most of my readers are now based in the USA I have linked to American retailers and sites (apart from M&S) so remember to change the country in the header or footer of the site if you’re based outside the USA (or outside the UK for the M&S link). All retailers ship everywhere.
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