An Essential Guide to Belts

December 5, 2014
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Belts aren’t typically high on the priority list of most men when deciding what to wear, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be. A high quality, classy looking belt can actually tie an entire ensemble together while helping to bring in attention from the ladies. Plus, you know, they have that added bonus of making sure your pants don’t fall down.

Best of all, they aren’t just for guys with no butt anymore. Here are some facts you need to know before purchasing your next belt.

The Color Palette
Believe it or not, the type of shoe you’re wearing will have a large impact on how effectively you can pull off a belt. The type of material between the two should almost always match.

If you’re donning leather shoes for a business meeting, your belt should also be a leather of the same color. However, when you’re looking to sport a more casual look it might be ok to let your freak flag fly.

Belts with offbeat prints, such as ostrich and snakeskin, are best paired with business-casual dress pants rather than as part of a suit. If you’re really wanting to make a statement, check out the Hornback Crock Belt, made out South African Hornback crocodile leather.

The Buckle
A belt buckle can be the difference between looking like a gentleman and, well, a rhinestone cowboy. Nobody wants to look like a rhinestone cowboy. That’s not to say that you can’t whip out the western themed buckle, but moderation is key. Unless you’re in Texas, bigger isn’t always better.

When dressing for more formal occasions, focus on belts that are narrow and have smaller, flat buckles and are gold or silver in color. Rounded and larger belt buckles are only good for casual outings—or rodeos.

If you’re wearing cuff links or a watch the buckle should match to keep a uniform look throughout your outfit.

Choose the Right Length
One of the biggest blunders in buying a belt is choosing one that’s way too long to fit around your waist. No matter how well it matches your suit, nobody wants to look like they’re walking around with a leather tail flapping out of their pant loop.

Belts are typically measured in relation to waist sizes on pants and one belt will almost always cover between two to three sizes. Many men make the mistake of buying a melt that matches their pant size exactly when, in reality, belts should be labeled a pant size or two larger for an accurate fit. So if you wear a size 32” waist, your best bet is to look for belts labeled 34”–36” waist.

Always remember to try on a belt in the store before buying it to ensure the best fit possible. Simply wrapping it around your waist won’t be all that accurate.

Quality Check
It can be difficult when looking at a display of belts to determine the quality seeing as how they all tend to look alike. As with just about anything nowadays, the more expensive it is the higher quality it will likely be.

Most belts today are made with calfskin, but the age of the calfskin and belt itself will affect how well it will hold up over time.

To check the quality, flex the belt to make sure that no cracks have begun to appear. Over time leather becomes brittle, so it’s important to bend the belt in multiple areas to check for signs of wear and tear.

Not All Belts are Created Equal
Synthetic leather belts are just what they sounds like—fake. They’re made from polymers and fibers to help replicate the look and feel of leather, but they last half as long if you’re lucky.

Bonded leather belts, however, are 100 percent real leather but are made out of scraps of leather from other goods. Again, while slightly better than synthetic belts, these don’t last nearly as long as high-quality leather and should be avoided if possible.

Genuine leather belts are always a good choice. They’re often made from leftovers as well, but only on the inside. The outside is covered with full-grain leather or synthetic fibers and these belts will hold up over a long period of time.

Finally, the highest quality of leather belts on the market is 100 percent full-grain leather belts. These belts are made from the top layer of an animals skin, making them more prone to light scratches but far more durable over time than any other belt. They’re the mark of a real gent.

If you’re not sure which style you prefer, you can’t go wrong with any of these.

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