I thought with this post it was time to take a look at one of the unsung heroes of men’s fashion; the humble belt. We all own belts, we all wear them but how much thought do we really give to that essential strip of leather or fabric which so admirably stops our jeans or trousers from falling down and getting us arrested for indecent exposure? I suspect not an awful lot, so let’s rectify that today and shine the spotlight on men’s belts for a few minutes. Or at least until I run out of things to say about them…
Choosing a Belt
First of all, how should you choose a belt? This depends on the occasion because needless to say not all belts are built the same and if you think it’s okay to rock a fabric skater style belt with your office suit or a shiny leather belt with a silver buckle with your cargo pants, I’m sorry to say but you’re not quite down with this whole belt thing. But not to despair because choosing a belt is easy.
If you’re looking for a formal belt to wear with a suit – be it your work suit or something smarter for a wedding or court appearance – then aim for a belt that is between 1” and 1.5” – any wider will look too casual and should be saved for your downtime.
Don’t know what colour to go for? It depends entirely on your footwear. Black shoes = black belt, brown shoes = brown belt. If you are going for brown just make sure you get the shades as close as possible.
If you want something casual to wear with your jeans and a t-shirt then naturally do the opposite. Pick something that is wider than 1.5” and steer clear of shiny finishes. Matt leather or fabric will be your best choices unless you want to look mix-matched.
How Long is too Long?
Always buy a belt that is one size larger than your waist. You have a 32” waist? Buy a belt that is 33 inches. Any longer and you’ll have an unsightly tab of belt to tuck into your belt loops and any shorter and you’ll be turning blue due to lack of oxygen.
As a rule of thumb, your belt should be comfortable when worn on the third hole.
All Leathers are not Equal
Leather-wise, you have a number of options to go for which really depends on how much money you want to fork out. Here are the basics:
- Synthetic leather: the cheapest option – don’t expect to be able to hand this belt down to your kids as a family heirloom
- Bonded leather: this has internal layers of waste or poorer quality leather with a synthetic leather finish on top
- Genuine leather: again this has inner layers of waste leather but with a real leather outer – beware though as sometimes this might not be the finest quality of leather, even though it’s real
- Full leather: the best quality you can buy. This is high quality leather through and through. The downside to a real leather belt is that it scratches easily but if looked after well it will last you for years. Naturally this is your most expensive option
The Humble Belt as Fashion Accessory
Many gents don’t like to wear a belt, either feeling that it breaks their outfit up, or for other more personal, and undoubtedly sinister, reasons. And that’s fine – nobody says you have to wear one but try thinking of the belt as more than just a strip of leather whose only function is to keep your pants up, and consider it as an essential part of your outfit as your other accessories. You pay attention to your shoes, your watch, your choice of scarf; so why not your belt? The right choice of belt could instantly elevate your outfit into something truly dapper. And when I say ‘right choice of belt’ I’m not talking about a western style belt with an oversized longhorn skull on the buckle.
Looking after Your Belt
No matter whether you’ve pushed the boat out and treated yourself to an expensive full leather belt or you’ve gone for a budget friendly high street version, any leather or synthetic leather belt will last longer if you look after it properly. This means not leaving your belt in your trousers or jeans when you hang/fold/throw them on the floor at night but removing the belt and hanging it up vertically.
And on that note, I have officially run out of things to say about belts so why not let us know your thoughts in the comments box below? And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for more men’s fashion related things that are 140 characters or less, and visit our website too where our new t-shirt range is available to pre-order. Thanks!