The Belt Bible: Ten Things You Need to Know about Belts

The Belt Bible: Ten Things You Need to Know about Belts

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The Belt Bible

The belt is an often-overlooked, sometimes forgotten men’s clothing accessory that should be considered essential for a finished look, especially on dressier occasions. But a belt is a belt is a belt, right? Well, while it is possible to over think this, there are a few things you should know about choosing the right belt. Consider this your Belt Bible, answering the essential questions.

10 Things You Need To Know

What size should I buy?

The general rule of thumb is to buy a belt that’s 1 to 2 inches longer than the waist size of your pants. If you wear 34 pants, buy a 36-inch belt.

What material should my belt be?

For dress belts, stick to leather. For casual belts paired with khakis or jeans, leather is still generally preferred, but there are a lot of other options out there. A belt made of canvas may be the right look for some outfits, while bright colours in silicon belts are currently popular with some men on the golf course.

What’s the difference between a dress belt and a casual belt?

Dress belts are made of leather, generally narrower and have buckles that aren’t too large or flashy. Casual belts can be almost anything that fits your personal style and wardrobe.

What colour should my belt be?

For dress belts, match your belt to your shoes, both in colour and level of shine. If you wear a prominent gold or silver-tone watch or other jewelry, match it with the colour of your belt buckle. It’s that kind of attention to detail that brings an outfit together for a finished look. For casual belts, matching your shoes is still a good place to start, but when you’re wearing jeans and sneakers, anything goes. Golf belts may complement two-tone shoes, such as a white belt, or may provide contrast with your shirt and pants.

So does this mean I need a closet full of belts?

Probably not. Most guys only have a few colours of shoes to match, if that. Even if you wear both black and brown dress shoes, you can get by with a reversible black and brown dress belt and a casual belt for jeans and khakis, at a minimum.

Is this going to cut into my budget for Friday nights with the guys?

Only if you overindulge at your Friday happy hour and then make an impulse buy of that belt in the display window that’s made of ostrich hide. You can easily find high-quality, name-brand leather belts for £20, and remember that a reversible belt generally doesn’t cost much more, so it’s like a two-for-one sale. Casual belts often cost even less. They tend to last a long time, so belts are cheap accessorizing.

How do I care for my belts?

It’s pretty simple, really. Hanging them in your closet is better than rolling them up for storage, to keep the leather from cracking from the tight curvature. Any scuff marks on a leather belt can be touched up with shoe polish. A swipe with leather conditioner once a year can’t hurt, but it’s probably optional.

My girlfriend bought me a rodeo belt buckle from 1969 at a secondhand store. What do I do with it?

Buy a belt with a removable buckle and put your gift buckle on it. You’ll probably want a wide belt to look right with a large buckle. Then wear it only with jeans or other appropriately casual attire. That’s assuming you like the buckle, of course. If you can’t bear the thought of being seen wearing it in public, put it on the mantelpiece and tell your girlfriend you want to display it there so you can see it every day, because it’s too special to be left in the closet.

Why do the kids wear baggy, saggy pants that let their underwear show?

Actually, the belt (or lack of one) is to blame for this fad. Prisoners aren’t allowed to have belts. Some misguided youths decided to emulate the look of a prison inmate with ill-fitting prison-issue pants and no belt, and the look spread from there. We don’t have to tell you this look is a non-starter at the office, right? Anyway, the fad of wearing pants that are falling down around your knees seems to have peaked some time ago.

My boss wears both suspenders and a belt. Should I point out the redundancy?

Don’t mention it, but definitely don’t emulate him, either. Now that you’re up to speed, where do you buy the belts you need to finish your wardrobe? Just about any place that sells men’s clothing, from department stores to specialty shops, both brick-and-mortar and online, will have options. One convenient choice is The Belt Shoppe, a small, online specialty retailer at that carries a wide selection, including brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Kenneth Cole, PGA Tour, Tiger Woods, Nike, Adidas and more. The Belt Shoppe also provides free domestic shipping so you save time and money over going to the store.


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