Let’s be honest, buying a belt is easy, right? You just go to a department store, pick out a 4mm thick black or brown leather strap with a shiny silver or golden buckle and call it a day. At the end, who really cares about a belt? You can hardly see it anyway. Well, if that is enough for you that is great.
If, however, you are interested in turning your belt from a merely functional accessory to an accessory capable of making a fashion-forward style statement, then this article is for you. Taste is different for everyone but an ill-fitting or poorly-matched belt can ruin an outfit. Our belt guide will show you how you can step up your belt game.
When to Wear a Belt
As described in our History of the belt article, belts used to be an exclusively functional accessory. Over time, however, the belt transformed its identity to one of the most important decorative accessories for men.
The rule is simple: If your pants have belt loops, wear a belt. Leaving the loops empty looks like you forgot something. That goes especially for formal attire when your shirt is tucked in. A chic alternative to belts is suspenders. Yet, keep in mind not to wear a belt and suspenders at the same time.
Belt Fit & Size Guide
First things first. Finding the proper size for your belt is essential. That is why we dedicated an entire article to the topic of how you can find your perfect belt size. We’ll just give you a brief summary here:
Belts usually have 5 holes. The variety of holes gives your body some room for changes and allows you to wear pants made of various thicknesses and to tuck your shirt in or not. Ideally, though, you want the belt to fit so that the buckle pin goes exactly through the middle hole. That will leave you with about 15cm/6in of leather to the left of the buckle once it’s fastened. When in doubt, err on the short side but make sure to have enough to tuck the belt under the first belt loop. Wrapping a long tail of residual leather around your hip or having the tip of the belt hang down loosely is a no-no (the later can sometimes work for casual outfits but you really need to know what you are doing for it not to look like a fashion sin).
The only proper and logical way to measure belt sizes is from the inner edge of the buckle, where belt buckle and buckle pin meet, to the middle hole. The total belt length will then be the belt size plus about 15cm/6in.
The quickest and easiest way to get your belt size is by adding three inches to your pants waist size (some sources recommend adding 2in but we’ve made better experiences with 3in). That should give you a pretty good estimate. You’ll also find our sizing chart in the Details & Sizing dropdown menu of every belt. Braided belts allow you to tie the belt wherever it fits you best guaranteeing ultimate wearing comfort. That’s another reason why they are a great choice for casual outfits when you want to be comfortable but still look good.
Classic vs Casual Belts
Belts typically fall into one of two categories: Classic Belts and Casual Belts. Classic belts (also referred to as dress or formal belts) are usually worn with suits or more formal attire and are always made of leather. Casual belts come in a wide variety of materials, such as wool, polyester, nylon or leather, and come in an array of different colors. As the name says, casual belts go with casual outfits.
Belts are by no means the most complex accessory out there. Yet, there is more to belts than meets the eye. Knowing some of the technical aspects will help you pick the perfect belt for your occasion.
Men’s belts come in different widths which can generally be categorized as follows:
A 3.5cm/1.4in belt offers the greatest variety of wearing options and is ideal for a more casual chic style. That is why all of our belts are 3.5cm/1.4in wide. Of course, you can also dress up or down a 3.5cm/1.4in belt if it matches the rest of your outfit. 4cm/1.6in is usually reserved for Jeans but can also be worn with other casual outfits. 3.2cm/1.3in and 3cm/1.2in are classic dress belt widths. 2.5cm/1in works well with casual summer outfits. Of course, the material of the belt plays a major role, too. So, a 3cm/1.2in braided nylon belt, for example, wouldn’t be the greatest match with a suit.
There are 4 belt edge styles (from left to right): plain straight edges, raised with flattened edges without stitching, straight edges with stitching, raised with flattened edges and stitching.
Now that you have become a belt expert it is time to put your new knowledge to use.