I recently rewatched Mad Men and thought of Don Draper’s line when I read that belt bags are trendy: “If you don’t like what is being said, change the conversation.” If you’re old enough to remember, then you know that the conversation around fanny packs has not been positive. Visions of frumpy middle Americans wearing big shorts and clunky white sneakers or sleazy carnies taking tickets at the carnivals are what come to mind. Fanny packs have been considered so un-chic that, despite the positives of using them, nobody wanted to be caught dead wearing one.
Well, all it took was a name change to belt bag, slapping a designer logo on a few and styling a Real Housewife or a Kardashian in one for the conversation to change. Yes, people can be that suggestible. By just changing the conversation, fanny packs are considered not only acceptable but something that people want again.
From a practicality standpoint, I could always see the appeal of a belt bag. Handbags have always seemed a little sexist to me, like being the girdle of the accessory world. Why does the woman have to carry the bag? When was it decided that the lady was the one to lug things around while the man always got to walk around handsfree? I remember vacationing with my family when I was a kid. My mom was the one who had to carry the tote bag, and after multiple requests from me, my sister and my dad to carry our things in her bag, she finally lost it, opened her bag, and said, “does anyone want to jump in too?” Men have practical pockets in their clothing. Women can be lucky to find a pocket anywhere in their clothes.
I don’t know if I am running out to buy a belt bag. Part of the reason is I don’t like being influenced by marketing. I sort of loathe the idea of being told one day a trend is God-awful and the next being told that now it is okay to like something. The other reason is simply because I can’t really fathom the idea of strapping a lumpy bag around my waist. Oh, and did you know that the slang term fanny pack has nothing to do with our rear ends? In certain parts of the world, like Britain, fanny is slang for a woman’s private parts, not her butt. That’s a little fun fact, not a reason not to wear them.
Anyway, it’s not my place to say whether or not you should or shouldn’t wear something. So in today’s post, I am giving my tips on how to stylishly wear a belt bag using this style from Rebecca Minkoff.
Five Style Ways to Wear a Belt Bag
A belt bag with a summer dress can work. The tip is to choose dress that has waist shape or looks okay belted. A belt bag becomes part of the outfit when you wear it and you don’t want it look like an afterthought or like it doesn’t belong.
A belt bag is essentially a belt with a bag attached, so think about using it when a belt might be helpful. In the outfit above, I thought about belting this relaxed Lafayette 148 tunic style shirt to give the waist some shape, which can be particularly helpful when wearing it with these wide leg cropped pants from Milly. I finished the outfit with a pair of red slides from Sole Society.
In most cases, belt bags will be worn casually. For an easy weekend look, I styled the belt bag with a pair of easy joggers from Vince Camuto, a relaxed t-shirt from Banana Republic, colorful scarf from Chan Luu and slip on sneakers from Frye. What also works about this look is the bag harmonizes with the outfit, not like it was slapped on as an afterthought.
Belt bags are used more for practicality than for style. I don’t see anyone grabbing one unless it is the obvious choice. Where I see them being useful is on vacation, walking great distances and just times when having your hands available is important. They can even be great to use when working out. In many of these cases a crossbody can work, but maybe you want even more freedom.
I styled this look with casual travel, like being on vacation, in mind. I styled the belt bag with this striped tee from Madewell and shorts from J. Crew. I finished the look with comfortable sandals from Vionic.
I styled this last look thinking about a fun night out. I kept thinking of the pain in the butt lugging a bag around can be when you are at a bar or somewhere that a bag seems like a hassle. I created this outfit using these jeans from Ralph Lauren, a top from Gibson, statement necklace from Tasha Organic and heeled sandals from Stuart Weitzman.
Shop for belt bags
Ready to add a belt bag to your wardrobe? Check out these styles.