I Tried the Controversial Belly Chain Trend I Was Really Scared Of


(Image credit: @kristenmarienichols@camillecharriere; Courtesy of Chanel)

If you’ve been looking at the recent runways or outfits unfolding among the fashion set, there’s one major trend that’s impossible to ignore: belly chains. I know, probably not what you were expecting—but the 2000s trend is back and stronger than ever. I have to admit that the accessory scared me the first time around and never entered my wardrobe, but I’ve suddenly been convinced to give it a second chance.

I think the change of heart comes down to the styling. When belly chains first came onto my radar in the ‘00s, they were worn with other trends I avoided, like low-rise pants and velour sweats, but now we’re seeing them paired with more polished looks. At Chanel, belly chains were added to skirt suits, bikinis, and jeans. At Jacquemus, with a cropped cardigan and suiting. At Dior, with a knit sweater and logo pants. And fashion people have their own very chic ways of styling them.

Finally warming up to the belly chain trend myself, I decided to try it out. Ahead, see how I’m wearing it, where I found inspiration, plus plenty of great shopping picks if you’re ready to add the fun piece to your wardrobe. I'm calling it the It-accessory for 2021.

On the runway:

Throughout the past several seasons, the belly chain trend has made a confident comeback in designer collections. We've seen a range of ways to style the accessory, so there are many looks to reinterpret off the runway.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Chanel)

Pictured: Chanel Cruise 21


(Image credit: Courtesy of Jacquemus)

Pictured: Jacquemus F/W 20


(Image credit: Courtesy of Dior)

Pictured: Dior P/F 21

How I'm wearing belly chains:


Beneath a jacket with ripped jeans
(Image credit: @kristenmarienichols)

As I mentioned, belly chains are a piece I never envisioned wearing myself. With a whole new perspective on how to style them, I'm now fully on-board. For my first attempt at wearing the piece, I decided to pair one with a bold pink jacket and ripped jeans. I love the subtle detail of the belly chain peeking through the midriff-baring look.


(Image credit: @kristenmarienichols)

I styled this look with a pair of ripped jeans and a chain necklace to add some '90s-inspired elements.

How the fashion set is wearing belly chains:

If you're looking for further inspiration on how to style a belly chain, fashion insiders are providing plenty of cool outfit ideas. From crop tops to pant suits, belly chains seem to be the perfect accessory to finish the looks.


With a crop top, cardigan, and jeans
(Image credit: @jen_wonders)

With baggy jeans on the rise, this look seems like a foolproof way to test-drive the belly chain. Paired with a crop top and a long cardigan, this feels very on-trend for 2021.

Shop the look:


With a coat, one-shoulder top, and tailored pants
(Image credit: @camillecharriere)

Who knew belly chains were so primed for winter? Simply wear a coat with a slightly cropped shirt, tailored pants, and a belly chain in between.

Shop the look:


Under a pant suit
(Image credit: @angelafink)

I'm always looking for cool new ways to wear suiting and this look feels so fresh to me. With just the top jacket button fastened for a slight flash of skin, you can see a subtle glimpse of the belly chain.

Shop the look:


With a bra top and slip skirt
(Image credit: @raissagerona)

You might already have these closet staples in your wardrobe, so this is a great way to get started with the trend. As we move into spring, I expect to see many more interpretations of this outfit formula.

Shop the look:

As seen in Who What Wear's December cover shoot:

Senior editor Lauren Eggertsen styled our December cover star, Taylour Paige, in this stunning look from Chanel's Cruise 21 collection. The crop top and skirt set is paired with layered belts, including a belly chain, to tap into the of-the-moment trend.


(Image credit: Wolfe and Von)


(Image credit: Wolfe and Von)

Next, read about the It-bag that will be everywhere next month.

Associate Director, Special Projects

Kristen Nichols is the Associate Director, Special Projects at Who What Wear with over a decade of experience in fashion, editorial, and publishing. She oversees luxury content and wedding features, and covers fashion within the luxury market, runway reporting, shopping features, trends, and interviews with leading industry experts. She also contributes to podcast recordings, social media, and branded content initiatives. Kristen has worked with brands including Prada, Chanel, MyTheresa, and Luisa Via Roma, and rising designers such as Refine and Tove, and her style has been featured in publications including Vogue.com, Vogue France, WWD, and the CFDA. Before Who What Wear, Kristen began her career at Rodarte, where she worked on assistant styling, photo shoots, and runway shows, and at Allure, where she moved into print and digital editorial. She graduated from the University of Southern California, where she studied art history and business, and currently lives in New York.