Men’s Belt 101
This post will answer almost every question you have about the men’s belt.
Men’s belt is one of the most commonly used fashion item that is also most overlooked. Like everything else, knowing how to pick the right belt for your outfit can mean the difference between looking great and stylish and looking like someone without a clue in regards to style.
DESPITE BEING one of the most commonly used clothing accessory, most guys simply loop the same piece of belt around their waist day in day out without giving second thought to style and fit.
Belts, like watches, socks, cufflinks or tie bar, are accessories that add subtle details that adds stylish finishing touch to a great outfit. It showcases your personality, individual style and taste. Belts are also a reflection of your fashion sense and have the ability to make or break your outfit.
This post covers everything you need to know about belts.
Without further ado, let’s buckle up and go!
Belt Types (Casual vs Formal)
There are two major categories of belts: Formal and Casual.
How to know the difference between them?
Formal (or dress belts) should be matched with a dress or suit pants. They are thinner in width and thickness and typically have a shinier finish. As a rule of thumb, if the width of the belt is shorter than 1 and a half inch or about the length of your thumb to the 1st knuckle, it is a dress belt.
Anything wider than that, it’s most probably casual or should be worn as a casual belt.
Casual belts should be matched with casual pants like jeans and slacks. The right type of casual belt can also work for business casual attire.
Which type of belt to wear (formal or casual) will depend on the shoe you are wearing, casual shoe should only be matched with casual belt, vice versa.
Fashion wise, there are generally two major types of materials – Leather belt and Fabric belt.
Leather belt – is perhaps the most common among men, infact, that’s the only material we own.
Always go for genuine leathers.
Artificial leathers like FAUX, Synthetic and PU leather Faux Leather are man-made leather that although have the look and feel similar to genuine leather and generally cost much lesser but doesn’t last long and loose the shine and color quickly.
Real or Genuine leather doesn’t have to come only from cow, any animal skin like goat, sheep, ostrich or even crocodile is very durable and can last you a lifetime and are very durable.
Fabric belt (or Cloth belt) – is usually made from strong cloth fabric or canvas. They also generally come in different colors since fabric can be dyed.
The quickest way to find out the belt size that fits you is to buy one that’s 1-2” longer than that waist size of your pants. This can be done by measuring your waist where the waistband of your pants sit, and add an additional 1 – 2 inches to the measurement.
Note: measurement of an existing belt you own is not an accurate indication.
Tip: Go for one size larger than your waist size. Opt for the middle 3 holes of your Belts. If it’s on either of the ends, go up or down accordingly. There should enough belt-end to go through the buckle and into the first belt loop to the left of the buckle.
There should be a size tag attached to the buckle of the belt that states the size. Some belts have the sizing stamped on the inner side of the belt.
The typical belt sizes are as such:
S-size (29 – 31 inches); M-size (32 – 34 inches); L-size (36 – 38 inches); XL-size (40 – 42 inches); XXL-size (46 – 48 inches); XXXL-size (50 – 52 inches)
Generally for dress belts, black and brown. For brown, it can be different shades of brown or tan color (again, depending on your shoe color).
For casual leather shoes like the boat shoes, loafers, boots or chukkas, opt for brown leather. Casual shoes like sneakers or slip-ons don’t necessary need to go with any belt. But if you do, fabric belt in matching colors will be best (again, we recommend belts with leather elements near the buckle).
What color to choose?
Be it casual or formal dress belts, generally stick to the common three natural leather colors – black, tan and brown. These colors are timeless and go well with almost any pants or jeans. Choose the color that matches your shoe color when you are heading out.
Tip – match texture of your belt and shoe. This is especially for dress shoe and belt (i.e. Shiny shoe with belts on the shinier side while shoes with texture should be matched with belts with some texture).
Buckles are also another good indicator for casual and formal belts.
Typically, buckle for formal belts are simpler, more refined and smaller. Gold or silver toned buckle that looks dressy works really well.
Casual belt, although have more leniency, shouldn’t be too bold, loud or large when it comes to the buckle. Branded logo and initial buckles are no longer trendy (unless you are working for those brands and have no choice). The only exception we see if you are going for the cowboy look.
Generally, go for clean, simple type of buckle and you will look classy. Avoid big branded logos as they (if not match properly) can let out a signal that you are desperate for attention and come off as someone who needs to make use of branded items to boost confidence.
- Always match the color of your belt with the shoes you are wearing.
- No excess belt leather or fabric should be flapping’ around. There should only be a few extra of leather or fabric left to tuck into the first loop, nothing more (and nothing less).
- Along with matching the color of your belt with shoes. Try to match your buckle to any metal accessories like Cufflinks, Tie clip, Watch, ring or Bracelet you are wearing. (Tip: To do this, simply have two types of buckle – Silver and Gold. Opt for matt version though).
- Thin width for formal belt and thicker width for casual belt.
- Same concept applies for the thickness of the belt strap as well as the buckle size – thicker and bigger for casual, thinner and smaller for formal.
Common Types of Belts
#1 Black Dress Belt
The black dress belt will be the most formal of all belt (especially the shiny ones). Go for the slim ones with simple silver buckle. For a more luxury look, exotic leathers like Crocodile skin might be an option as well.
#2 Brown Dress Belt
As mentioned earlier, having a brown dress belt is essential if you fancy brown dress shoes.
As with all dress belts, something slim with simple small buckle is preferred. In this case, a bronze or gold buckle can also be an option based on the metal accessories you wear (I.e. Cufflinks, Tie clip and watch).
#3 Thick Rugged leather Belt
Works best with jeans and chino pants. For these, look for belt that’s wider and have a thicker cut.
We prefer to match these with a pair of rugged high cut boots or chukka boots.
#4 Fabric Belt
For fabric belt look for something lightweight (like a simple grosgrain or cotton weave) that can be dressed up or down.
Tips: Go for fabric belts that have leather elements at the buckle area. As with formal belt, go for simple and minimalist buckle.
#5 Suede Belt
The suede belt is a versatile alternative to your everyday belt. It can come with a smooth or perforated finishing. As with other belt, match the suede belt with suede leather shoes like the Suede Oxford or Suede chukka shoe.
#6 Slim Vintage Belt
The vintage belt is, as the name suggest, meant to give that vintage look.
Similar to your normal dress belt, the slim vintage belt is slightly thinner in width, comes in more exotic fabrics (like crocodile skin and snake skin) and is usually finished off with a simple gold buckle.
Storage of belts is often overlooked but storing your belt properly can help keep the belt looking good for years to come. Hanging the belt is perhaps one of the easiest and best ways to store it. Hanging your belt up also saves more space as compared to the second method, rolling the belt up.
This is pretty straight forward, but be sure not to roll it in inside out for whatever reason as that will cause winkles and even cracks.
Do also keep it out of the sunlight or from artificial heat and extreme cold surrounding. Also avoid leaving it in your pants as that will risk having the belt lose its shape eventually.
It is a good idea to consider cleaning and conditioning your belts. Many leather care products are easily available in retail and online shops. These leather care products can also be used on other leather goods like the Leather shoe, Wallet and even watch strap.
This YouTube video by Walnut Studiolo explains it well:
Final Tips on Men’s Belt
#1 Punch an extra hole if you need
Always wear a well fitted belt. If you lose weight and the belt becomes too large, invest in a leather punch or bring it to any shoemaker to have a proper hole added.
#2 Alter the belt length if you need
If you gain weight and find your belt getting tighter, it’s time to lose some weight!
Jokes aside, do put it away and buy another belt that fits (and lose some weight, seriously).
Getting another belt will look better and prevent drawing attention to your expanding waistline. It is also a lot more comfortable and you don’t risk damaging the current belt.
#3 Remove the belt if you are going untucked
Always wear a belt with pants when your shirt is tucked in.
The exception is when you are wearing a suit or blazer and you know the suit will always be on.
Belts ought to compliment an outfit, however not overwhelm it.
Like some other accessories, it should compliment and add measurement to your closet, not be the focal point of consideration.
Ensure you have both formal and casual categories of belts you need. For example, have a black belt and a brown belt if you have both black and brown dress shoes. Being prepared will lessen the temptation of wearing inappropriately matched belt.
Pay attention to the overall look by coordinating your belt, shoes, watch and other accessories like the cufflink or tie clip. Be sure to match dressy accessories if you are wearing formal and likewise for casual outfit, leather accessories can bring out a more relaxed and rugged look.
Learn to enjoy the process of shopping for your belt and spend some time looking for the right style that fits. A good quality belt is an investment that can last you for years to come. And remember, simple and classy is the best.
What do think of our guide? Have you learnt a thing or two?
Where do you normally get your belt and what style do you usually go for?
Do leave us a comment to share yeah.