According to the 80s-penned Official Preppy Handbook, the needlepoint belt is a “must accessory for the collegiate B.M.O.C. (big man on campus)" and typically a gift from women of a certain sort and class...women committed to memorializing young love by stitching a needlepoint belt for their beau. Ironically, it eventually garnered notoriety as the breakup belt. By the time the belt was finished, someone in the relationship had often decided to move on.
While preppy fashion has gradually evolved over the last 30 years, the casual and jaunty nature of needlepoint belts has not. It's the preppy catholicon for holding up ill-fitting khakis, shorts, and summer suit trousers.
Victoria Stulgis started needlepointing at age 12 when she and her mom wandered into the Nantucket clothing/needlepoint boutique, Erica Wilson. By 15, she became much more avid. After a day at the stables, she and her equestrian friends would slumber party at each other's homes and needlepoint in front of the TV. "It was rather unconventional, I think," Stulgis recalls.
"I started working on [my boyfriend] Jack's belt when I was 17. Back then I was rather quick at needlepointing and it only took 3-6 months (I think there was a time when I was needlepointing during history class)."
When she was finished with the crossed oars design in Georgetown colors (and still in the relationship) Stulgis sent the canvas to a leather shop just outside Lexington, KY, which she had stumbled across while competing at the US National Pony Finals in 2004. They do a top notch job with the stitching and use superior quality leather, as they cater to the equestrian set down in Kentucky. Good thing too, since her boyfriend Jack has been throwing it around his waist almost daily for the past six years.
Can’t get your auntie, mum, or lovely lady to labor for months over this functional status statement? No worries. You can simply pick one up from Tucker Blair or Smathers & Branson; however, my favorite is one I came across from Rugby several years ago (beautiful repeating gold skull & bones on navy ground, wool thread, and better quality leather than the former). Most ring in under $200. Of course, the most valuable needlepoint belts are those made by moms or girlfriends like Stulgis.