The most classic yet underrated accessory in your wardrobe is a belt. You would think belts are supposed to be simple and easy to choose. However, it is quite the opposite. A fashion-savvy person should know the difference a belt can make to your entire look. Sure, its purpose is to keep your trousers in place but a wrong choice can just throw off the rest of the outfit.
Belts are an integral part of the outfit, especially for men. And there are a few cardinal rules that should never be broken. Also, quality is extremely important when buying a belt. Unlike a shirt, a belt can be worn again and again with different pants.
A high-quality belt is obviously going to be pricey. However, coupons can help you build a nice collection of belts without breaking the bank.
Without further ado, let’s delve into everything there is to know about belts:
Parts of a Belt
There are just two basic parts of a belt: the buckle and the strap. There may be an end tip as well which is made of metal and featured on belts made of fabric. It prevents fraying and makes it easy to pass the strap through the loops.
Types of Buckles
There are a few types of buckles that every man should know about:
This is the most commonly used buckle. The strap goes through a frame and has a prong at the end. This prong goes into a hole on the other end of the strap in order to fasten it.
This buckle consists of a box and there are no holes on the strap. The post presses the strap inside the belt and keeps it in place.
Plate buckles are more decorative and can be detached. They pair with snap belts that do not have a buckle.
O-ring and D-ring
O-ring and D-ring buckles have O-shaped and D-shaped metal rings. It can be a single or double. The strap is fastened by threading through the ring(s).
Snap buckle belts are easy to strap in and out. They are more about functionality and are commonly used by hiking men and women.
Strap Materials & Width
Straps can be distinguished by their material and width. Here are the materials used in belt straps:
The leather is the most commonly used material for belt straps. However, there are a few different kinds of leather.
• Full grain leather: Full-grain cowhide leather is the sturdiest and most high-quality material used in belts. It is common in formal belts.
• Braided leather: These straps are by braided leather strips that offer style and adjustability. They do not have holes as you can put the prong between the braids anywhere you deem the best fit.
• Suede: Suede is also used in belts but it not that common. Also, it gives a more casual look.
• Tooled-leather: Patterned or stamped leather is termed as tooled-leather. These straps are then stained as well.
• Exotic leathers: High-end fashion houses also produce belt straps made from snake and crocodile skin. They have the signature textures of these animals’ skin.
Canvas is a different material than leather which is more functional. It is usually used in military uniforms.
Webbing comes in different colors which is why it is commonly used for casual belt straps. It is usually paired with D-ring buckles.
Since leather is expensive and also controversial in many places, belt straps also come in synthetic leather. These use polyurethane on a fabric inner layer. There are quality variations even in the faux leather straps with high-quality ones looking more like genuine leather.
There are three strap widths you will find: 1.25 inch, 1.5 inches, and 1.75 inches. The 1.5 inch is the most common and versatile width. The 1.25 width is found on formal belts and is suitable for men with shorter height. The widest one is chunky so comes more on the casual side with statement buckles.
Types of Belts
Belts can be roughly categorized into two types: formal and casual. There are a few key differences between the two. It is very important that you know which one is formal and which is casual. That is one of the most common mistakes men make with belts.
1. Formal Belts
Within formal belts, you would not find much difference. To put it simply, there is not much variety in these belts. They look more conservative and simple. Formal belts usually have a frame style buckle with the strap passing the buckle and the prong going through one of the holes on the strap. The buckle is not chunky or detailed, rather slim and shiny.
Dress belt straps are usually made of leather. Now straps made of synthetic leather are also becoming popular. The strap should be thinner usually one or one and a half inch in width. The strap color is usually black or a shade of brown.
2. Casual Belts
Casual belts come in a variety of sizes, materials, and styles. There is a lot of room to play with and fewer rules to comply with. These belts can be used more like an accessory that uplifts the overall look. These belts feature frame, plate, box-frame, O-ring, and D-ring buckles.
There are many different types of straps that can work as a casual belt. Nevertheless, leather is still the most commonly used material even in casual belt straps. These straps include full-grain leather, braided leather, suede, canvas, and tooled/stamped leather straps.
The belt size is dependent on your waist size. Choosing the right size is important otherwise it will look bad and inappropriate. The belt length should be at least two inches bigger than your waist size. Belts are versatile in terms of size as there are a number of holes. When buying a plate buckle belt, remember that the length adds to your belt size. The tail end should not be too big in dress belts. You can always consult belt sizing charts online to find the perfect size.
How To Pick The Right Belt
Picking a high-quality belt that goes impeccably with what you are wearing is not so difficult when you know a few handy rules. Here are some rules about picking the right belt:
1. When wearing formal, match the color of your belt with the color of your shoes.
2. The buckle color should match the other metals in your outfits, e.g. the cufflinks.
3. Choose skinny strap for a more formal look.
4. With casual shoes, choose a matching belt or the one that complements the look.
5. A brown belt can be worn with any color suit except for black.
6. Do not wear a belt that twice bigger than your waste.
7. The bigger the buckle, the more casual it looks.
You should at least have two formal belts and a casual belt in your closet. The formal belts should be a black and a brown to go with your formal pair of shoes in the same colors. The casual belt can be worn with jeans, chinos and casual trousers. Invest in good-quality leather belts that will last long. Buy during sale seasons or use discount codes to buy them for cheaper.