What is a Belt and why choosing the right one matters?
What is this guide to men’s belts all about?
Let’s start at the beginning. What is a belt? The Oxford Dictionary describes a belt as “A strip of leather or other material worn, typically round the waist, to support or hold in clothes or to carry weapons.”
Pretty concise, don’t you think? But is there more to it?
Belts are used to hold up trousers, sure. But not just any strip of leather or cloth will do it. Belts are used to give a personal touch to your outfit, to tie it together, make a style statement or create a clear distinction between your top and bottom half.
It’s actually a very important piece of clothing, not just a simple accessory. Selecting the most appropriate belt for the occasion is almost as important as wearing the right clothes. The belt not only reflects your personality, but it improves the outfit you are wearing.
Belt size is indicated in either inches or centimetres. This number indicates the length of the strap, starting from the buckle and going all the way to the middle hole. Ideally this is the pin hole at which the belt should be fastened. Other holes allow us to fasten the belt on slightly higher or lower waist trousers and account for the natural variations in waist size we all go through in our lives.
Sizes are not always labeled in the same way. Some brands use waist range, such as 33″-37″, or they size it the same way they do clothing (S, M, L, XL):
There are different types of belts, each used for certain occasion and look we are trying to achieve. In general they break down to two major types: Formal Belts and Casual Belts. We’ll cover each category separately and outline their key differences with examples.
Formal & Classic Belts
The formal belt is also known as the dress belt. It goes with a suit and is meant to go almost completely unnoticed, with thin metal pin buckle and subtle colour of leather. The classic belt is very similar, however it may have a more pronounced buckle and a wider range of belt colours to choose from.
In general the following applies to both. The belt is 2.5 – 3.5cm wide, made of fine leather and featuring brown, black or another subtle colour. It’s job is to discreetly finish off your outfit and play a supporting role. Whatever you’re wearing, the formal and classic belt complement the outfit, they should never distract.
Must own formal & classic belts
These are the more relaxed type of belts. You can freely experiment with them and express your personality through them.
Nothing is really off limits here. There are no width restrictions, only some general guidelines. Belts ranging in width between 1.5 and 2.2cm are suitable for skinny jeans only, while wider belts can be worn with any casual trousers.
Still, if you want to look great, we urge you to follow some simple rules:
- Be sensible: You can wear a belt with an unusual detail, be it the buckle or the strap. But never both at the same time!
- There is no need to match the belt with anything. Actually, it’s better if you don’t try to match it.
- Avoid conflict branding. If You are wearing a branded hoodie, trousers or any other part of clothing, don’t wear a branded belt. And vice versa.
- If your jeans have a branded tag on the waistband, your belt should cover it.
- You have a ton of different styles to choose from! Tooled leather, exotic skins, printed straps, fabric webbing and woven leather are just a few, there are many more. So there is no excuse to wear a formal belt with a casual look. It just doesn’t look that good.
Must own casual belts
The Standout Belt
The Designer Buckle
These are part of the casual belt type bunch. They are made to stand out and be seen. Usually we’re talking about a designer brand belt, with very obvious branding.
While some love the very obvious belt buckle, others are repelled by the ‘douche appeal’ such branded belts may carry. Nearly all designer brands produce logo belt buckles, and they are usually their best sellers.
If your lifestyle calls for a statement like this, pick your brand and promote – just make sure the buckle isn’t overtaking your personality. Stay true to yourself.
Your Personal Favourite
You are probably thinking: I want to distinguish myself from everyone else, but how do I do this? Do it with a belt you like. It can be subtle, it can be bold and daring. It could be a handmade belt you bought on holiday, a crocodile style belt you couldn’t resist or a belt with intricate embossing.
Maybe just some buckle design that caught your attention? A great shade of brown or an artisanal weave? Look for details, look for thing you like and catch your eye. And wear it wisely.
The belt, although a relatively small accessory, has a very important role in how it ties the outfit together. It is basically a mid-sectioning line that cuts your figure in two halves, creating a shortening visual effect.
If you want to look taller, make sure to dress so your belt with match either your trousers or your shirt, making the cutting “line” less pronounced. On the other hand, if you are tall and looking to break up your height, complementary colours or clashing hues work well, so take advantage of this effect with detailed styes or bright belts.
For a modern approach to casual wear, try to get your belt to counterbalance what your clothes say. For example, try pairing tailored trousers with a studded belt or patent versions with ripped jeans.
And always remember: Don’t overdo what you’re wearing. Sometimes it’s better to go without a belt, than with a belt too much.