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How to Tighten Pants Without a Belt: Stylist Reveals the Easy Secrets That Work Fast

No trip to the tailor needed

We can all probably agree that having pants that are too loose is better than having pants that are too tight (at least you can put them on!), but it can still be incredibly frustrating when you want to wear your favorite pair and you don’t have a belt on hand or maybe your belt is too big too. The good news is that there’s a lot you can do to tighten them — without using a belt. The even better news? It can actually look subtle, chic and put-together. So we asked fashion experts how to tighten pants without a belt. Keep scrolling for their easy solutions.

1. How to tighten pants without a belt: Grab any of these

A silk scarf, some ribbon, perhaps the sash from a dress in your closet — any of these can moonlight as a belt in a pinch. Just thread them through the belt loops and finish the look with a bold bow, chic knot or dramatic tail, says John Smith, textile designer, stylist,and co-founder of Leather Skin. Bonus: They add color, pattern and/or texture while also being functional. Are your pants leather? Click through for 11 ways to style leather pants.

2. Thread the button through a belt loop

Sound confusing? It’s actually super simple. All you have to do is cinch the first belt loop to the left on the right side of the waistband around the button, then pull the hole on the other side through like normal. While you’ll technically lose the symmetry of the belt loops on either side, this is a relatively undetectable way to tighten pants without a belt. However much space there is between the button and the loop is how much you can expect to tighten your waist.

This video shows just how easy it is to do:

3. How to tighten pants without a belt: Add button extenders

Despite the name, a button extender is actually made to minimize the waistband, and often comes in aesthetically appealing designs that embrace the visibility. They work by pushing two of the pins through on either side of the fabric that you want to take in, then buckling them together with the included hardware. “This allows you to adjust the tightness without having to sew or make permanent changes to your pants,” Smith explains.

See how they work in the TikTok below:


Pant waist tighteners are on my Amaz0n St0refr0nt! I definitely like these better than the snap buttons #tightenjeanswaist #tightenwaist sstylehackffashionhacktutorialwwaistbandtrickffixpantwaistttightenjeansaamazonfashionhackaamazonfindsm#makejeansfit

♬ original sound – Kearah

If you find you’re often between sizes or want to more permanently alter the fit of pants without actually trimming down the waistband, you can also utilize snap buttons discreetly sewn into the waistband interior.

Related: The Most Figure-Flattering Ways to Style Flare Jeans for Any Occasion

4. Use a clip, pin or elastic

If you’ve ever wondered how models always look perfect in the clothes they wear, this is how. Take a cue from stylists like Smith and employ the use of some kind of clip (a binder clip can work but you’ll want to pull a top over it so it doesn’t show), pin (like a safety pin), or elastic (think a hair tie or rubber band) to tighten your pants.

Clips and pins work similarly in back: Simply gather and pinch the excess fabric at the back of the waist. The most discreet approach is specifically using a safety pin and fastening it vertically along the middle seam.

Hair ties work well in front: To take in any gap in the waist from the front, loop your elastic through the buttonhole and around the pant button.

5. How to tighten pants without a belt: Grab a shoelace

Have an extra shoelace on hand? It works easily to tighten pants from the back, says Smith. Simple thread it through the back loops, pull to tighten then tie!

The TikTok below shows just how easy it is and gives a bonus trick you can try with the lace:

7. How to tighten pants without a belt: Fold the waistband

Just like you would when you’re trying to shorten a skirt, it’s easy to fold the waistband in or out, depending on the construction of the pants. Something softer like flowy linen pants with more give and an elastic waistband can easily be folded outward, while a thicker denim should be folded inward so that the pant as whole isn’t pulled up, creating more tension in the pelvic area. Once you have the fit you want, pin or clip it in the back for extra security.

7. Tuck your top in

how to tighten pants without belt: Close Up Of Overweight Woman Trying To Fasten Trousers In Bedroom Gaining Weight

 If your top is long enough, Smith recommends simply tucking it into the pants and using the fabric to fill out pants instead of trying to tighten them. Plus, he adds, “this will add dimension and definition to your waist without any extra accessories.”  This is especially true of high-waisted pants, which are already ideal for highlighting your midsection.      

8. How to tighten pants without a belt: Layer up

This is similar to Smith’s recommendation above, but instead of making the long top a part of your outfit, the goal is to keep it invisible — its only job is to add a little extra thickness to your midsection. Depending on what you’re wearing, a tank or short sleeve top is likely your best bet so that you don’t see it, but this method won’t work if you’re wearing a crop top or a tank with thin straps.

9. Get them tailored

The most permanent option of the bunch, but also certain to give you the best look and results, is tailoring. You’ll want to make sure you go to a reputable tailor, and ask about the specific alterations they plan on making (this can vary based on your body shape, the fabric, budget and more). Generally the options are to replace the waistband, take it in at the center back, take it in at the sides or take it in on both sides of the back.

Related: Seamstress: How to Hem a Dress At Home So That It Looks Professionally Done

For more clothing hacks, click through the links below!

How To Fold Pants To Save Space: Organization Pros Share Their Brilliant Hacks

This TikTok Hack Uses Pool Noodles To Prevent Creases in Pants — Would You Try It?

Pro Cleaner Reveals The Easy Secret That Keeps Jeans From Shrinking in the Dryer

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