Although a simple staple in every man’s kit, the belt is often overlooked as a crucial element to finishing off a look – we’re here to set the record straight so you’re not caught with your pants down (pun intended).
Despite the practicality one looks for in a belt, style and fit should play a role in what should be included in your daily kit. Adding a subtle hint of colour and personality is always a bonus, just don’t go too over the top – its easy to show a lack of judgement through accessory choice.
From pairing a casual belt with a shirt and shorts, to finding the right belt for formal occasions, a guide has been compiled with everything you need to know from colour, hardware and fit. Read below for our crash course in choosing the correct belt – strap in.
What to look for in a belt:
Make leather the default – “When it comes to the quality of belts, both the material used and the manufacturing process are important,” says Luca Faloni, founder of the luxury Italian brand. “Leather should age well, be resistant and not stretch: that’s why full-grain leather is the best material for classic belts.
Match your belt to your feet – Obvious but often forgotten, look to what you’re wearing on your feet. Match your shoe colours to your belt and ensure the finish is the same (matte to matte, suede to suede etc).
The width of your belt is important – the width of your chosen belt should always be between one and one and a half inches thick. Any bigger and you’ll start looking like Batman.
Metal matters – Look at what your normally wear in terms of hardware, think watches and cufflinks. Gold, silver and brass are all acceptable materials for your buckle so it is best to match your metals.
What is your daily style – Unfortunately, one single belt will not always work. Find what you wear most often (is it suits or jeans?) and match your belt to the occasion. You will find you will have at least two different belt styles in your kit.
If you want to mix it up, try another fabric – Aside from the default leather belt, if you want to change it up for a more casual look don’t dismiss fabrics such as twill cotton – just make sure you find good quality brands.
Work out your size – Your belt size is often measured in inches or centimetres. The measurement is taken from the buckle to the mid hole – which is where it should ideally be fastened. If you find your belt of choice is measured in S, M and L then look for a size guide to ensure you are getting the correct belt.
What type of men’s belt suits you?
As mentioned, not one belt will suffice for every occasion. Yes there are times when your hips will be covered, but for the times your belt is front and centre you want to make sure the right style is chosen.
Casual Leather Belt
Not mistaken for the formal leather belt, the casual version should be made up of matte leather, soft suede and non-flashy buckles. “Casual leather belts are one of the best ways to break up a separates look,” says Lord, a menswear stylist. “For the summer, wear one with a tucked in T-shirt for a subtle nod to the eighties.” Look for a matte or brass buckle or pick a soft suede instead of polished leather.
Orciani Buckled Belt / $174 AUD SHOP NOW
Leather Dress Belt
Dress belt don’t necessarily need to be worn with a tuxe or formal suit, it’s better to go for a pair of braces if you find you pants slipping. In the case of more casual separates, try a clean and polished leather belt to smarten up business looks.
Ferragamo Adjustable and Reversible Belt / $495 USD SHOP NOW
Best for the warmer months, the woven belt is great at lightening up a look and adding texture to a flat look. “Woven belts are ideal for adding a flash of texture to a pair of shorts during the summer. They can also give a very classic spin when worn with a linen suit too,” says Lord.
A.P.C. Woven Belt / $288 AUD SHOP NOW
Contrary to the belief that, the canvas belt of your childhood days is in fact appropriate for adult wear. Lord says: “With their slight military feel, fabric belts are perfect for wearing with [textured trousers or shorts] to layer texture on texture.
Bally Striped Belt / $350 AUD SHOP NOW
Colour matching your belt…
Once you’ve worked out fit and style, the next thing to do is consider colour. Matching your belt to the rest of your outfit is a do or die situation. Phill Tarling, stylist of Tom hardy and John Hurt is your go-to for colour advice.
Dark Brown Belt – “This is the most versatile belt colour and looks its best when worn with claret shoes. This universal belt and shoe combo can be worn with practically any colour of suit, but it’s best worn with trousers in a mid to dark tone.” Navy and grey tailoring or separates are ideal.
Black Belt – “When paired with black shoes, a black belt is the second most versatile option that you can pick up. From light grey through to charcoal and black, this style of belt works best when worn with a monochrome colour palette.”
Blue Belt – “A blue belt is a trickier colour to master, but it’s ideal for adding a subtle flash of colour to a look. Worn with tonal blues or khaki trousers, a blue belt is perfect for adding personality to an off-duty ensemble.”
Tan Belt – “A tan belt works best when worn with tan shoes. The combination looks its best worn with a navy suit, but this colour also complements trousers in earthy tones such as khaki or brown.”
Brands to look at when buying a belt:
Known for a long history of quality and a slight flair for design, Salvatore Ferragamo has an option for every man.
Over the past two years, Gucci has cemented its position as a cult brand for mens belts. Whether you opt for a minimal black belt, show off with the logo buckle or mix it up with monogrammed canvas, Gucci is sure to up your style game.
For an extra touch of luxury, Hermes are masters in the classic belt. With a quality name and material, an Hermes belt is the ultimate statement for sophistication.
Hermes Quentin Reversible Belt / $1205 AUD SHOP NOW
Hermes H belt buckle & Kadence Reversible Leather Strap / $1215 AUD SHOP NOW
Hermes Mors belt buckle & Reversible Leather Strap / $1,135 USD SHOP NOW
If you’re looking for something a little left-of-field, than Paul Smith is a great place to look. With the addition of the Paul Smith iconic striping seen on its accessories, you can stay modest or go all-out.
Polo Ralph Lauren
If you want the look without the price tag, look to Ralph Lauren. Still backed by a quality name, you cant go wrong with a polo belt.
Cover image: @princepelayo Instagram