The obi belts have been getting lots of love lately, especially at the Squidfire Philly show and the Art on Belmont show. I made a whole bunch of new ones and put them up in the Etsy shop, if you haven’t seen them yet. A question I have gotten from some customers at the shows is: how to wear the obi belt? They would be intrigued by its shape and seduced by the fabric, but weren’t sure how to integrate it into their wardrobe, or were concerned they couldn’t “pull off” such a bold accessory.
Luckily at Squidfire I was wearing mine, so I could easily demonstrate how I would wear it…which is in no way the last word on the subject, but since this is my blog, let’s do it my way (cue Frank Sinatra), and talk about how I would wear it!
The Holland Cox obi is a solid color canvas or denim on one side, and a lightweight cotton print on the reverse, reinforced with lightweight interfacing on both sides. This means it will be stiff enough to hold it’s shape and cinch in the waist, but still flexible enough to be comfortable. The belt is designed to be worn at the natural waist – it will not bend around your natural curves properly if you don’t position it where you waist naturally dips. The widest part of the belt is only 5 inches wide – and as a petite, short-waisted person, I can personally guarantee that 5″ is not too wide for anyone! Don’t be scared of the wide belt!
The other important design point is the extremely long ties. They are 36″ to 41″ long, long enough to wrap around your waist and tie in the front, the side, or in the back if you really, really want to (but I love the look of the front or side knot). My obi belts feature ties in a print that either matches or coordinates with the printed side of the belt.
This belt is a dark eggplant canvas on one side, and reverses to this lovely polynesian floral. Instead of using the same floral for the ties, I chose this coordinating hexagram print. You could wear the solid side of this belt with a more conservative outfit, like a dress in solid brown or cream, and then wear it on this side when you were feeling more playful.
This belt is olive green canvas on the reverse, and I used the same fabric for the belt and the ties, although the belt is cut on the bias – I can’t resist cutting on the bias with stripes or checks! The effect is especially cool with this wild pattern, I think, plus the diagonal lines make you look skinnier! I love wearing my belt with the knot on the side, the way it is shown here.
Like all Holland Cox accessories, the obi belts come in very bold patterns and color combinations. This actually makes them easier to wear than plain black or other neutral-colored belts, and here’s why: I don’t have to know any of you personally to know that most of you have wardrobes that are 80 to 90% solid colored. (Go on, go and look.) A single, eye-catching accessory can therefore inject quite a bit of excitement into several different outfits, especially if you choose one that either has a lot of different colors in it, or includes a color that you wear all the time.
You can wear the obi belt with just about anything – dresses, skirts, tailored pants…the only thing it won’t work with is something that has it’s own bulky belt built-in. At the Squidfire show, I wore mine with jeans. I didn’t take a picture of myself, but this little collage shows the basic ingredients I used: my belt on the printed side, dark blue jeans, a long scoop neck shirt in a bright color (mine was purple – not tucked in), a coordinating shrug (mine was brown), and interesting accessories.
I think the obi would look especially cool on any outfit that accentuates the waist – like a fitted dress with clean lines, or a top combined with a wide, circular skirt. Adorable! Do you have an outfit that would look stunning with an obi belt? I would love to see the way you wear your obi belts!