Belts are an essential component of men’s fashion. Not only do they hold up your pants, but they also have the potential to add flare to your outfit.
Aren’t all belts pretty much the same? Not necessarily true. Belts come in different sizes, styles, and materials.
Whichever one you choose depends on what you need.
How do you find the perfect belt? The answer is – it’s a process.
It’s easy to settle for a decent belt that does the job, but it will pay off to invest in a quality, long-lasting, and durable one.
You might do research on something like best shampoo, hair care techniques, or beard shaping tips, so why not do the same for a belt?
Although belt shopping seems easy, there are a number of factors you’ll want to consider when finding the perfect belt for you.
How To Choose The Best Belt For Men?
Style – How do you dress? What is your style? Why do you need a belt?
Knowing the answers to the questions will allow you to find the perfect styled belt.
One of the best things a belt can do is pull together an outfit or really sells the impression you’re trying to put across.
Wearing a black studded belt isn’t going to tell your boss you mean business.
However, if you’re going to a concert for your favorite metal band, you’d look pretty weird wearing a designer leather belt.
The best feature a belt should have is looking right. A belt should blend into the scene- sealing the deal on an outfit.
Wearability – How often do you wear a belt, and how often do you plan on wearing the one you buy?
Searching for wearability in a belt that matches your lifestyle will guarantee you finding the best belt.
Certain types of belts are better for everyday wear while others are suited for occasional professional events.
It’s up to you to decide what you want out of your belt.
It’s important to know this so you can find a belt made with the right material, and at the price point to match your needs.
Price – How much are you willing to spend on a belt?
The general rule of thumb is the nicer the belt, the higher the cost.
This high cost accounts for high quality material and any sort of designer logo.
If you’re looking for something designer and high quality, then you need to be ready to spend anywhere from $300-$5,000.
On the other hand, if you’re more in the market for something less pricey, but possibly lower quality as well, you can find a belt that’s right for you in almost any clothing store.
Types of Belt Materials
The most common types of belts are leather and cloth.
Both belt types will get the job done when it comes to their function, but they differ in style the most.
Types of belts send different messages: some fit best for formal occasions, while others work better for more casual get-togethers.
Cloth belts are your first solid option. They give off a more casual and even preppy impression.
Cloth belts can be made from a variety of things such as canvas, heavy cloth, tweed, etc.
Cloth belts are popular amongst designer brands for fashion looks that stand out in a crowd.
However they can also be toned down with a more laid-back outfit.
Pairing a cloth belt with one of your best undershirts for men instantly gives you a casual yet chic look.
These belts are ideal if you prefer a more sporty, preppy, fashionable style.
Leather belts are reliable and durable. You can usually have the same belt for a number of years!
As long as your leather belt is taken care of it will look and feel new years after you got it.
Leather belts are incredibly versatile and go with outfits across the spectrum.
They come in a variety of widths from thin to thick, lengths from short to long, and hardware from frame style to O-ring.
A nice leather belt can round off a sleek suit a tie look, and it can also serve as a great accessory to match your favorite band tee.
The possibilities when it comes to pairing a leather belt with an outfit are endless.
Things to Look For – Length, Width, Buckle
Most belts have 3 different components that make them fit you.
These factors are the length, the width, and the hardware – in this case the buckle.
Finding a combination that works for you in a sure way to make sure you have the perfect belt.
How To Determine Your Belt Size – Length
A belt length should be perfect for your waist. A general rule of thumb is that your belt should be longer than your pants size by 1-2 inches.
If you have a belt that is too short, it won’t fit properly.
Pant Size to Belt Size
- For pants size 32, choose belt size 34
- For pants size 34, choose belt size 36
Note: Belt Sizes shown in US/UK standard size.
A tight belt means it will cling to your body in an unflattering manner, ruin the shape of your pants, and possibly physically harm you.
Cutting off circulation or putting excess pressure on one part of your body for an extended amount of time is never a good idea.
A belt that is too long will simply fall off you. Your pants might slowly inch down, which will make you look unprofessional.
You might just think it’s a good idea to carve out a new hole in your belt, do not do this!
You will easily ruin your belt; just exchange it for a better fitting one.
The width of a belt can say a surprising amount about a person.
Traditionally thinner and slimmer belts have been seen as more professional, while thicker belts are seen as more casual.
If you’re wearing a professional suit at a business conference then a thin leather belt will fit best.
If you were out hunting in the woods, a thick and durable leather belt would be best for you.
The perfect belt for you will have a width that reflects that tone you’re trying to convey with your outfit.
The buckle of a belt is probably the most uniform part amongst different kinds of belts.
They usually range in color from your classic gold and silver to a modern black or slate.
On professional higher end belts, frame-style buckles are the most commonly used.
These high-end buckles are also usually smaller and flatter than a casual belt buckle.
Say you are looking for a casual belt and a buckle to match. How do you pick the right one?
Well it all depends on the look you’re going for.
If your style tends to fall into the more southern or lumbersexual category, consider getting a belt with a plate style buckle.
If you’re looking to make a statement with something a little more out-there, try a D-Ring/O-Ring or a box frame.
The types of belt buckles on the market are endless. Just remember that no matter the style, there is a belt buckle that will match it.
Types of Leather Belts
If you decide to go with a leather belt, you’ll need to consider the different types you’re able to purchase.
Some are of higher quality than others, made of 100% pure leather.
Others are considered ethical because they’re made of recycled leather, or synthetic animal skin free leather.
Leather belts are the most popular type of belt for men.
Each one comes with its own pros and cons, and it’s up to you to choose which is most suited for your style.
Bonded leather is 100% real leather. However, it is made of different scrap pieces of leather bonded together.
The fibers are carefully glued together to give a genuine leather look.
Because this type is made of old or unwanted pieces of leather, it’s considered eco-friendly.
If you’re the type of man to recycle, eat organically and use natural shampoo for getting rid of dandruff then this leather is for you!
Genuine leather is like a hybrid between bonded leather and full-grain leather.
It is still 100% leather but is made up of leather scraps glued or sewn on top of one another.
Once the scraps form one solid piece of leather, the outer layer is applied.
This outer layer is usually composed of full-grain leather. This offers you the look and feel of full-grain leather without the price.
This might be a great option if you’re on a budget but still want something that resembles designer quality.
While you might not be getting the most expensive leather, it’s a nice in-between of low and high end.
Full-Grain leather is the highest of quality you can get. The belt has no outer layer, hidden interior layer, or synthetic finishes.
It is made of 100% solid leather that’s usually derived from the top layer of an animal’s skin.
Because full-grain leather belts are made of solid leather, they are the most durable of the types of leather you can get.
They are also incredibly flexible and strong.
Full-grain leather does tend to show scratches but fear not because there are numerous ways to either hide or embrace them.
Synthetic leather is a cheaper way to wear your favorite leather looks. It’s also considered a cruelty free option because it’s free of any animal skin.
Synthetic leather is usually created with a number of plastic fibers (most commonly Polyurethane) and polymers to mimic the look and feel of real leather.
It’s quite durable and doesn’t requite a lot of maintenance.
If you’re on a budget but still want the look of a high-end belt, synthetic leather might be right for you.
How to Clean and Maintain Your Belt
You might have thought purchasing a new belt was enough. Didn’t expect to have to clean it?
Cleaning and maintaining your belt is something you might have never thought of.
To make sure your belts stay looking their best, they need a little TLC.
If you have a fabric belt you’ll need to wash it just like you’d wash any other clothing item made of fabric.
If you have a leather belt then upkeep is a must. Leather can crack, scratch, and get duty very easily.
It’s up to you to prevent all of those things from happening to the belt you spent so much time searching for.
It doesn’t matter which material you purchase, both need to be taken care of.
Most fabric belts will come with washing instructions. Make sure to read the tag carefully!
Consider using any suggested cleaning products, such as a specific detergent or fabric softener.
Pay attention to the drying process that’s specified in the washing instructions.
Heat may ruin or shrink your belt depending on the material, so check that it’s dryer safe.
Depending on the belt, you might be able to hand wash it with mild detergent and water.
This is ideal if you’re traveling or not in an area where you have access to a washing machine.
Cleaning leather is a process, but with patience and dedication, it can revitalize any leather belt to look good as new.
To do an all over routine cleaning, wipe the belt down with a cloth that’s damp with warm water.
Use leather cleaner on a dry cloth, and wipe gently following the grain of the leather.
After rubbing in the cleaner thoroughly, use a different clean cloth to wipe away any excess.
Let it dry overnight and your belt is ready to be worn! If your belt is made of synthetic leather the cleaning process is similar.
Simply use a wet cloth to wipe down the surface of the belt.
If you need a bit more cleaning power, use a mild and scentless soap.
Make sure to remove all of the soap with a damp cloth before letting it dry overnight.
Carefully following these steps is important because just like you’d use beard oils to keep your facial hair healthy, a proper cleaning routine will do the same for your leather belt.
Belt vs Suspenders – Which One Should You Choose
We can’t forget about the classic debate between wearing a belt and using suspenders.
For the most part, belts and suspenders serve the same purpose. However, the styles they add to an outfit are incredibly different.
The same can be said for belts and suspenders. That’s why it’s important to know the impressions they put across, and which one works better for you.
Suspenders are seen as a more classic or vintage accessory.
Wearing suspenders is a bold fashion statement that is perfect for men with a vintage taste.
Invented in the early 1800s, suspenders were originally undergarments. Suspenders were put in the same category as socks for men.
Seeing a man’s suspenders was considered scandalous up to the late 1930s. Over the years they’ve expanded in styles, sizes, and patterns.
In the modern era, you can now wear suspenders to a variety of occasions where you want to look put together.
Paired with your best chukka boots, suspenders can give off an intellectual and dapper vibe. Suspenders are exciting, but not for everyone.
Belts, on the other hand, are more versatile and warn more often. They are the conventional and most common method to hold pants.
Since the Bronze Age, belts have been a vital part of men’s clothing.
They’re one of those clothing items that have become as ubiquitous in men’s fashion as pajamas for men.
However, modern belts weren’t seen until the 1920s.
Traditionally belts were used for military uniforms or decorative purposes.
Eventually, they caught on in popularity, and men and women began to wear them daily.
They give off causal but also professional vibes depending on how you wear them. Belts go with suits and ties, but also jeans and a t-shirt.
It all depends on how you wear them.
If you want an accessory that goes with almost any outfit, can look fancy and casual, and lasts for a while, invest in a belt.
Finding the perfect belt for you isn’t a one-stop shop. You should take your time!
There are so many boxes you need to check off when looking to invest in a good belt.
It’s not like browsing the aisles at your local market and buying a random cordless beard trimmer: you need to put thought into what kind of belt you want.
Cover all of your bases before buying a belt. Know what kind of style you like, the materials you prefer, and how much you’re willing to pay.
This will ensure that you find the belt that is perfect for you. Don’t forget though, buying it doesn’t mean your effort ends.
Know how to clean whatever belt you purchase. Taking care of your belt is necessary to make sure you have it for as long as possible.
In the end, your belt should be an accessory that highlights you and your style, while making any outfit you wear the best it can be.
Remember: you can always have more than one pair!
Photos from: zakazpc / depositphotos.com, bzyxx / depositphotos.com, James633 / depositphotos.com, Fotofabrika / depositphotos.com, ylivdesign / depositphotos.com, artjazz / depositphotos.com, AndreaA. / depositphotos.com, Y-Boychenko / depositphotos.com.
- How To Choose The Best Belt For Men?
- Types of Belt Materials
- Things to Look For – Length, Width, Buckle
- Types of Leather Belts
- How to Clean and Maintain Your Belt
- Belt vs Suspenders – Which One Should You Choose