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.
But let’s dig deeper, shall we? First of all, what is a belt really about?
Holding up trousers? Sure. But there’s more to it than that. They can be used to make a style statement, add a personal touch to formal wear, create a clear distinction between your top and bottom half, tie an outfit together, and much more.
In order to make the very most out of this classic accessory, your choices should be informed, reflect your personality and, in the end, improve whatever you’re wearing.
With this in mind, we bring you the complete guide to men’s belts…
Belt Sizing ABC
Do you know your belt size? It is often indicated in inches or centimetres.
This number corresponds to the length of the tour of the strap – measured from the buckle to the mid hole – which is where it should be fastened, allowing for slightly higher or lower waist trousers and the natural variations in waist circumference we all go through:
However, some brands choose to size their belts in the same way they do clothing (S, M, L, XL), which often comes with a waist range, such as 34″-36″:
Your formal belt – the one you’ll wear with tailored trousers and suits, and nothing else – should be completely understated.
It will be 2.5 – 3.5cm wide, made of fine leather and come in brown, black or another subtle colour. You want your formal belt to discreetly finish off your outfit and play a supporting role to whatever you’re wearing, never steal the show.
Formal attire is all about advertising yourself. For this reason, a silly distraction (such as a ‘quirky’ belt) may quickly turn you into an undesirable ‘product’. Make sure your belt and shoes match and stay away from loud buckles.
The strap can have a subtle pattern, such as a fine weave, leather grain or patent finish, but that’s it. Leave contrasting stitching for your casual belts.
Extra advice: for increased wardrobe versatility, pick your favourite metal finish (gold or silver) and stick with it throughout your hardware selection, including jewellery and watches.
You can express your personality and be more experimental with your casual belt.
The width range is undetermined, but there are some general guidelines to adhere to. For instance, thin belts (width ranging between 1.5 and 2.2cm) are suitable for skinny jeans only, whereas wider styles can be worn with any casual trousers including chinos, jeans, cargo pants and shorts.
This is what you should be considering when it comes to purchasing your new belt:
- 1.Buckle or Strap? Either part can be unusual, eccentric or loud, but never both at the same time.
- 2.You don’t need to match it with anything. In fact, try to avoid matchy-matchy shoe and belt combinations – they can appear contrived – and stay away from conflicting branding.
- 3.If your jeans have a branded leather tag on the waistband, your belt should cover it.
- 4.Anything wider than 4cm requires the following questions: will this pass through the loops on my trousers? And “is this really a good idea?”
- 5.Woven leather, fabric webbing, studded, embroidered, tooled leather, exotic skins, printed straps… the options available on the current market are so varied, you have no excuse to wear your formal belts with a casual look. It just doesn’t work.