Belly Chains

Crystal Schwanke
belly chain

Add a belly chain to your swimsuit ensemble and show off that fabulous midriff. There are several styles available, from delicate and barely noticeable to wide and musical, like those of the belly dancers. Find your perfect fit and wear your chain with a cropped top or your favorite bikini for an unexpected twist.

What's a Belly Chain?

A belly chain, also referred to as a waist chain, is a piece of fun and sassy body jewelry that hangs around the waist much like a necklace hangs around the neck. Belly dancers have worn them for centuries, hence the name. Those chains have often been heavier in design, typically featuring metal discs and coins designed to tinkle in time with the music.

Contemporary styles have expanded, and now a wide array of chain designs are worn with many fashions that show a bare midriff.

Styles and Materials

Waist chains have become one of the hottest swimwear accessories in the last few seasons. The chains themselves are typically made from sterling silver, or electro-plated gold for the best durability. Solid gold chains are also available, but because this precious metal is fairly soft they don't wear nearly as long.

Chains may be plain, and come in single, double, and even triple strands. Other examples of this body jewelry are embellished with beads, crystals, pearls, sea glass, shells, semi-precious stones and a host of other adornments. Some designers like to add wording to the chains, or may offer to customize a piece by adding a name.

Some styles meet exactly at the waist, while others feature an added dangle that hangs from the main chain. You may also choose from pierced styles that compliment a pierced navel, or unpierced pieces. It all depends on your mood and needs.


The chain is available in many sizes, and some pieces are made to be quite adjustable, ranging from 20 to 40 inches. Check with individual designers/manufacturers to see if custom sizing is available, since this will result in the best fit.

To find your own perfect fit, you're going to need a tape measure. Waist chains look best when they ride just above your hip bones, so this is the best place to take your measurement. Be sure not to pull the tape too snug, or leave it too loose. If you can just fit your finger between the tape and your tummy, you've found the best fit.

Those with less curves should measure around the waist near the navel instead of at the hips so the chains will not slip down too far.

Great Companion Pieces

If you like belly chains, you may want to consider other companion pieces to go with them such as ankle bracelets, and toe rings.

Barefoot sandals are another type of body jewelry that are gaining popularity. For those who haven't seen these beach accessories yet, barefoot sandals aren't really sandals at all, but more an extension of the ankle bracelet. A second strand runs from the front of the ankle chain, across the top of the foot to form a loop around the second toe, kind of like thong footwear, but there is no sole attached.

Some barefoot sandal styles use materials other than chain, and it's actually very easy to make your own if you enjoy crafting. You can follow these simple instructions from Ruby's Bead Work, and then use your creativity to design your own custom pieces. You may even be able to design matching waist chains!

All of this body jewelry looks especially terrific at the beach, just be sure to select items that fit properly and will fair well if you wear them into the water. Remember, unless you remove your chain and other body jewelry during tanning, you're going to have tan lines.

Where to Shop

You can find a wide array of chains at several boutiques both online and in stores like lingerie shops or even some belly dance costume boutiques. If you're shopping online, be sure to have a look at the selection at:

Express Your Style

Belly chains and other body jewelry are great accessories to go along with the rest of your beach wear. Choose pieces that express your own sense of style, and have some fun with it!

Belly Chains