How to Buy a Garter Belt

Editor’s Note: Prefer video instead? Check out the TLA – “How to Buy a Garter Belt.”

This post was inspired by a conversation I had with a friend over wine and cheese (or, in my case, tea and cheese) about what kinds of stockings and garter belts are good for a novice to buy. Though neither of us is new to hosiery, a friend of hers is, and unfortunately, she’d received a bit of misinformation from other sources…at least in my opinion.



Her question got me to thinking…what is important when it comes to buying stockings, garter belts, and other hosiery related items (like girdles or tights)? What should you look for? Who should you buy from? Is there a certain way you should wear your purchases? I may not be able to address all those questions in this post, but I’ll try to cover a few.

Figleaves Garter Belt

“Why do I want these?”
Not only is this the very first question you should ask, it’s also the most important because the kind of garment you purchase is determined by its purpose.

For example, if you only want a garter belt to wear in the bedroom then a simple, four strap model, with a thin belt, thin garters, and one or no adjusters may suffice (example to the left). After all, you’re not likely to wear it for more than a few minutes.

However, if you’re buying a garter belt to wear stockings on a daily basis, or have reason to believe you’ll be in your stockings for an hour or more, or will need to do anything remotely physical while wearing stockings (like walking), then four straps just won’t do. If you want maximum support and maximum comfort, you’ll need at least six, wide, elastic, adjustable garters straps with a wide garter belt that has at least three hook and eye adjusters at back. Some people prefer the security of eight garter straps. A few even like ten. When it gets that high though, you’re getting into the realm of fetish and that’s not what this particular post is about.

Retro and Lace Garter Belt

Why does the width of the belt and the number of the straps matter?
Put simply, because your stockings are always trying to fall. Even if you don’t think they’re about to fall, believe me, they’re trying to. Having more straps not only provides more anchoring points on the nylons to hold them up, they also keep your stockings from twisting, wrinkling, and bunching.

Having straight stockings is not only more aesthetically pleasing (particularly in the case of backseam hosiery), it also prevents unnecessary wear and tear of the fine, nylon threads. The wide garter belt gives the garter straps something firm to hang on to and provides countertension against gravity.

Adjustability is important because garter belts which are too large or too small do a poorer job of supporting the garter straps which anchor the hose. A too small garter belt could pinch your belly after extended wear, resulting in discomfort. A too large garter belt might work its way down your hips as the day goes on. In other words, please don’t underestimate the importance of good fit.

Whew…I’ve already typed more than I thought I would! I think I’ll address one more part of the garter belt question and talk about stockings in a separate post.

What material should your garter belt be made of?
I don’t have to tell you that people make garter belts out of lots of materials among which are satin, cotton, powernet, lace, vinyl, leather, faux fur, nylon, and so on. If your garter belt is just for the bedroom, then go right ahead and get that leather 12-strap contraption with the leopard fur and diamante accents.

But if you plan on wearing your garter belt for awhile, and especially if this is your first one, then I highly recommend purchasing a simple belt made from nonstretch satin, powernet, or even cotton. Not only will those materials last longer against your skin (let’s not be dainty–people sweat), they’ll also be more comfortable and allow those intimate areas to “breathe.”

I won’t lie. Good, quality garter belts cost a bit of money, but I’d much rather buy one $40 garter belt and have it for years, than four $10 ones that I have to throw away after one wear.

How about you? What do you look for in a garter belt?

Mad Mimi Form

Cora Harrington

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. I started TLA in a small studio apartment in 2008. Since then, it's become the leading lingerie blog in the world, and has been featured on the websites for Forbes, CNN, Time, Today, and Fox News. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that every who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.

39 Comments on this post

  1. Hi, I know that I am years behind on finding and reading this article. However, I would like to thank you, so very much. I recently became a lingerie model and am looking into purchasing my first garter belt and stockings. Unfortunately I do not have a clue what I’m doing. idk if a photoshoot consists of “short term use” or not. Also I’m 6foot tall. I do a lot of “dark, suicide girls” type of shoots. I love the look of the garter belt, so sophisticated, chic, sexy but not slutty. I really would appreciate any and all help and or advice. Once again, I apologize for my tardiness on this blog/article/post. Best of wishes, thanks again for the great tips. Also, all the great tips I found in reading the comments from others.

  2. Julia says:

    Thanks for this article! I have to wear compression stockings for medical reasons and appear to be developing sensitivity to silicone so I am switching to soft top stockings and a garter belt. I think the compression stocking tops are a lot thicker than normal stockings. I can barely get the straps fastened on one of the belts I purchased. Any thoughts on a good sturdy daily wear garter that can accommodate thicker stockings?

  3. Lauren says:

    I just asked myself this morning what I would do for garter belts since my first and only one is starting to fall apart. Thank you for writing this article!

  4. Gabby says:

    This has been so helpful! I am in the process of finding my first garter belt to wear daily and until now had no idea where to start. I do need more assistance, however. I am needing to start wearing support hose as preventative measures against the beginning stages of varicose veins that have started to appear (at the ripe old age of 24 *sigh* ). I have found thigh highs to be more comfortable than full pantyhose except for the fact that since support hose are quite tight they are very persistent about falling down, eve with the rubber tops. Earlier comments have stated at garter belts don’t do well with the thick stay-up tops. Any suggestions on a garter belt that will hold up under the pressure and daily wear?

  5. Nicole says:

    Really stupid question but where do you find stockings? All I can find are thigh-highs or tights. Can you find them in department stores? I’m in Canada so we don’t have nordstroms here.

    • Cora says:

      Hi Nicole,

      Have you searched the blog or checked out the FAQ post? We’ve written a lot of articles about stockings over the years (I originally started out as a stockings blogger). As far as Canadian department stores, I really wouldn’t be familiar with the selection there, but if you shop online, try StockingsHQ, Secrets in Lace, and Stockingirl.

  6. angie says:

    Excellent and informative article. There is one point that was not discussed, placement of the suspenders on the belt. On many quality belts (Rago included), even with six or more wide and adjustable straps, the rear straps drop well to the outside of the thighs so that the stockings are poorly supported in back. A good belt with only four wide adjustable straps and metal fasteners but with the rear straps dropping well back on the thighs will do a better job of supporting stockings than on with many straps but with the rear straps dropping well outside on the thighs.

  7. Nikki says:

    I have a sturdy, every day garter belt that I love dearly, but I also have cheap ones that only have one real use. If I have a 4-strap belt, can I wear it out of the house for three or four hours (on a date) will my stockings stay up? I’ve always been curious,

    • Terri says:

      Well, Nikki, most dates involve walking, sitting an leg crossing. I have found that any kind of extended wear of a four strap garter belt, especially wearing one where there will be a lot of movement, will usually result in sagging or wrinkled stockings at the very least. Worst will be a sprung garter clip. Four strap garter belts just don’t seem to do the job. Try a six or eight strap on a date. You won’t be disappointed.

  8. danielle says:

    What a great post! I had no idea they made garter belts with more than four straps! That’s good to know for my next purchase. I recently bought a new set of metal clasps (14$) and had them replace a plastic set on one of my garter belts (at a tailor, 7$). I know this is sort of out season (and probably not directly related to this post) but I’m looking for a garter belt that I can wear with wool stockings for the winter time. Have any ideas?

    • Terri says:

      Garter belts are stockings are never out of season! I wear mine all year long, almost every single day. I bought most of my garter belts, particularly the ones with more than 4 straps, from the Stocking Store and HowCool.com. Also, Secrets in Lace has a really nice selection. I prefer and use mainly a garter belt with at least six straps. At least this way I am assured my stockings will stay where they belong.

  9. […] story and different fabric, decorations, boning and lacing will cause them to fit differently. Garters are usually sized by the standard Small-XLarge, so start with your usual size and go from there, […]

  10. […] How to Buy a Garter Belt (Article) […]

  11. Sarah Eastburn says:

    Where is there a quality online shop? Every time I look I end up on sleazy sites and the product doesn’t look like anything you would wear outside of a trailer park. Anyone willing to give some details on some quality shops? Thank you

    • terri says:

      Well, Sarah, you can find quality garter belts on line from Secrets in Lace or The Stocking Store. They have very good quality garter belts and stockings. I have purchased many from them and have received nothing less than excellent quality, functional garter belts. I purchased some from HowCool.com, mainly my leather ones with more than four straps. Believe it or not, I use these for my everyday use as I find that having more than four straps is more secure and my stockings stay up where they belong. I would tend to think that anything sold on those sleazy sites is not meant to be worn anywhere else other than the bedroom and for not much longer than a few minutes and, if you attempted to use everyday, you would be extremely frustrated and disappointed. Let me know how you make out in your search.

  12. Terri says:

    Just ones more comment in regards to those cheap 4 strap, plastic clip garter belts. The final straw for me wearing them is when I wore one on the day of an important meeting. While walking into the building the rear straps popped off the stockings. I stopped in the ladies room, re-fastened and adjusted them and was almost to the meeting room when they popped again. Ran back to the ladies room, re-fastened and went to the meeting. Sat down and was greeted with snap!, snap! I was mortified, they sprung again. I felt like crying. I found out later that they didn’t just pop, the plastic clips shattered! The next day I instantly converted to wearing better ones.

  13. Terri says:

    I know this an old article, but garter belts never go out of style. I have been wearing garter belts for about 10 years now. Started wearing them mainly to thrill my husband, but now wear them every single day without exception! I learned the hard way as I started with cheap 4 strap garter belts with plastic clips. As can be expected, the clips would pop off the stockings or, worse yet, break at the most embarrassing time and place. I got away from the cheap ones and went with 6, 8, and even 10 strap garter belts. More straps, more secure and no more sprung garter straps. I bought some nice satin 6 strap garter belts from The Stocking Store and my leather 6, 8 and 10 strap garter belts from either How Cool. com, or Spartacus of Oregon. Lastly, I always buy garter belts with only metal clips and only with the latching metal strap adjusters. I like to wear my stockings as high as possible, with the straps short, and have found that the non latching adjusters, sort of a friction type, tend to loosen up on me. I just love wearing those garter belts!

  14. Great article, vey informative. Not only is it hard to find decent garter belts but finding good quality garter belts in plus size’s is almost impossible. If you know of any plus size garter belt manufacturers I would love thier details.

  15. […] That’s a great question, especially since garter belts are not only in fashion again but surprisingly hard to find in the average lingerie boutique (or department store, for that matter). If you’re new to the world of garter belts, I recommend this article – How to Buy a Garter Belt. […]

  16. B says:

    I know this post is a few years old, but it was a goldmine find for me. I want to start wearing garters (as dailywear, though I’m sure they’ll make an appearance in the bedroom). There are great tips on here, but I’m having trouble finding a garter in the online shops listed that fits all the suggestions given (number of straps, quality fabric, etc). I’m hoping someone can give me some direction–any specific recommendations for a comfortable, quality belt for someone who’s never worn one before?

  17. VickyBelle says:

    Being a lover of such an utterly feminine garment as garter belts and wearing them to my full enjoyment on a daily basis, I favor fit and comfort much more than looks. However, beauty is definitely not in conflict with functionality and the time taken in order to carefully select such an important wardrobe item is really worth the effort and pays back handsomely. This is something I discovered after many years of trials and a throwing away a lot of good money in fancy flimsy bedroom types. That's why I currently own several pieces of six-strap garter belts. In my opinion, the wide straps (5/8 to 3/4 inches) with fine metal clips and adjusters are just about the best. The build must be wide which helps ensure it will keep in place throughout the daily toil. A wide garter belt worn together with control panties provides extra support and feels just right. Should size be an issue, I recommend going for the next-lower size because the feel of this garment slipping-down is a real nuisance. As for material, I've found that a good-quality nylon-spandex fabric is the best because the stretch doesn't pinch and provides so much comfort that I've actually been capable of sleeping while wearing them. I sincerely hope my insight proves valuable and interesting to all of you lingerie lovers. Kindest regards, VickyBelle.

  18. Treacle says:

    @Katherine–I don't recommend wearing thigh highs with garter belts. While it may seem more secure, the thicker welt on thigh high stockings will warp your garters and render them useless over time.

    @Diane–I definitely wouldn't suggest alligator clips with stockings unless you're wearing a specialty material (like rubber…mayyyybe). I just can't imagine a scenario where the alligator clips wouldn't wreck your stockings.

    @Mouse–Take a look at the "boutiques" page. What Katie Did, Kiss Me Deadly, and Secrets in Lace sell 6 strap garter belts and they're all excellent quality.

    @Jennas–Panties over straps. Always.

    • Mary Patton says:

      I’ve often thought about the panties over straps situation. In a tighter fitting skirt or dress, how do you keep panty lines from showing ? I would assume that at that point you’ve got a few noticeable lines.

      • Treacle says:

        If you’re going to wear a tight skirt or dress with a garter belt, then you should also be okay with the garter straps showing…at least a little. Depending on your knickers, you may or may not get panty lines, but the tighter the garment, the more likely something is going to show.

  19. Jennas Red Rhino says:

    In your post regarding stockings, I'd like to request a discussion about the placement of the panties. I'm wondering about your take on the over or under the straps issue. This is possibly a topic for a single post.

  20. Mouse says:

    Thank you so much for this article! I have bought and worn many garter belts over the years, mostly to please hubby, but I also like the esthetic and mostly the fact that my lady bits are not stifling in silk/nylon/lycra. I have often wanted to wear them on a daily basis, especially in the warmer months (for comfort), but have always had problems with fit and the stockings staying up properly during extended wear. I have an hourglass figure (curvy hips/thighs and a small waist), and I am fairly short to boot. Fit has always been a problem and now I know what to look for. The biggest problem I've had was that the stocking would roll down on the sides and twist, and eventually the whole flimsy belt would start trying to slide down to follow them. :-(
    I always give up and the things end up living in a drawer and see the light only on 'special occasions'. Now I know that it is NOT my fault or that my body is just 'not right' for these lovely things. Now all I need is to find some of the good ones! I have never seen any like the ones you describe for sale in retail stores. Any online suggestions?

  21. Diane says:

    Treacle – have you ever seen a garter belt that has alligator style clips, rather than the typical hook and bump type mechanism? I've seen a few like this and I imagine they'd stay put very well, but I'm also worried they'd tear up the tops of my stockings, and I wondered if you had any experience.

    Katherine, if by "thigh-high pantyhose" you mean stay-ups, the silicone/rubber seal at the top that helps them stay put tends to make them too thick for the garter clips to grasp properly. I've worn stay-ups with a garter belt for appearances' sake in the bedroom but for actual long-term wear they bunch and wriggle and pinch.

  22. aspyre says:

    I wear mine with fishnet hose, more for the aesthetic than practicality. But then, I also wear underpants on the outside of stockings for coverage.

  23. Alexa says:

    Katherine,

    What would be the use of wearing a garterbelt with pantyhose ?

    If you decide to wear a belt, you should go all the way and wear it with stockings.

    Alexa

  24. Katharine says:

    I realize this question is coming along time after the post but I have a question. If you wanted to wear a four strap garter belt outside of the bedroom would it be possible to wear it with thigh-high pantyhose instead of stockings? So that way they would fall down, just a thought.

  25. Hosiery Advocate says:

    This article seems very informative. Good job!

  26. Glamourbeastie says:

    Finally, some PRACTICAL information in garter belts! You're so correct about the importance of fit.

  27. Treacle says:

    @Alexa

    You're absolutely right. How could I have left that critical piece of information out? :-)

    Thanks for stopping by!

  28. Alexa says:

    Very well put. I only miss a comments about metal versus plastic clasps (or clips, whatever they are called in proper English).

    I learned that metal clasps are better because the plastic ones tend to break more easily (after a few washes, when the husband is a bit clumsy or too enthousiastic, etc).

    Alexa

  29. Treacle says:

    Me too, when I first started buying garter belts. Then I realized that cheap is as cheap does and if I wanted my stockings to stop drooping around my ankles by the end of the night, I needed to get a nice garter belt.

  30. T-Rex says:

    Thank you for this. I’ve been guilty of going for the cheapy cheap rather than the quality.

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