If we were to ask you what the most important men’s accessory is, what would you say? Though it’s really more a matter of opinion, arguably, there are few accessories more important than a belt! Think about it—you might be able to get by without other items, but if your pants fall—that’s not a good look.
Knowing what kind of buckle, material, and how to measure for a belt, are all pretty important to a comfortable fit. Even if you think you know the kind of belt you want, there are so many pros and cons that you might not know about! So, don’t get caught with your pants (falling) down. Take a look at our comprehensive guide to belts and when to wear them.
Consider the Buckle
There are so many different buckles on the market.
- D-Ring Buckles
- O-Ring Buckles
- Frame Buckles (the traditional ones with prongs and holes in the belt)
- Knotless Buckles
- Plate (like the cowboys wear)
- Novelty Buckles
They all make their own unique statements, but buckles are what make a belt work. Without it, you lose all functionality.
It’s important to consider several things when deciding on a belt buckle. The first is if the type of belt buckle you want comes with the kind of belt you’re after. You might want a retro seat belt buckle, but that only comes on a canvas belt. Another thing to consider is the setting you’ll be wearing your belt in. While a big plate buckle might be great for a rodeo, it might not be the best choice for a meeting with your boss. The size of the buckle can also be a factor. If the buckle is big, it might look cool, but it could be painful when you sit down and leave you little breathing room.
Belts come in a large variety of materials, and they all convey their own unique message. The most popular belt materials include:
- Faux Leather
- Rope Belts
- Novelty and Specialty Belts
Leather and Faux Leather Belts
This style is a go-to for many people. It’s classic, easy to find, and comes in a variety of neutral colors. It’s perfect for the office, a day out, or a more formal event. Unfortunately, though, there are a few downsides to leather belts.
Over time leather cracks and starts looking very worn. So, you have to replace it if you’re going to wear it to a more formal event. The other problem with leather belts is that they have designated holes. Unless you have a leather punch, you can’t go beyond those holes. So, if you Are looking for a more customized fit, this probably isn’t your best option.
Nylon belts are a more casual but popular alternative to leather belts. They have a classic and casual look, and they can be cleaned as well as disinfected more easily than some other belts. Depending on the buckle, they also might not have the restriction of having to adhere to specific holes in the belt, like their cousin the leather belt. This makes it more adjustable and customizable. However, sometimes these belts can slip and be a bit uncomfortable if they rub against your skin.
Webbed belts are usually made from cotton canvas. These belts are commonly used in the military, and they are known for being strong. Similarly, to nylon belts, they are easily adjustable and versatile, depending on the buckle. However, the biggest disadvantage is that it may be too casual for more formal events.
Rope belts are a unique take on the belt. They feature knotless technology that allows you to adjust your rope belt to any size. They’re very strong and lend themselves to outdoorsmen, as well as someone just looking for a comfortable fitting belt. Rope belts also come in a variety of colors, which can be a fun touch to your outfit. The only real downside to a rope belt is you’ll probably need another belt for fancier events.
Novelty and fashion belts
Truthfully, most novelty or fashion belts are like a night out. They’re fun in the moment, but you’ll probably regret wearing them the next day. This encompasses all your belts from the ones women used to wear over dresses, the seat belt looking belts, and the belts with glowing marquees that people wore to clubs or dances. Most of these are super fun to look at, but they’re uncomfortable, made out of many different materials, and they go out of style so quickly. However, if you’re looking for a talking piece to wear to your next party, this might be your perfect fit.
Finding the Perfect Fit
Making sure that you have the correct measurements, when buying a belt, is critical. One way to measure is to add 2” to your regular pant size. If you already have a belt and you’re not sure what size it is, you can lay the belt out and measure it in inches. Also, make sure you’re measuring from the tip of the belt to the hole on the belt, that is most comfortable for you. Whatever you end up measuring, is the belt size you should purchase.
When to Wear a Casual Belt
Casual belts are great for everything from running errands, to a casual date night. Casual belt materials include nylon, canvas, webbing, rope belts, and novelty belts. Though these all fall into the casual category, they vary by level of casual. For example, novelty belts are far more casual than a neutral colored nylon or canvas belt. So, just keep that in mind, as you make your selection.
When to Wear a Formal Belt
If you’re headed to a formal evening out, or even in more formal office settings, leather is the only way to go. Leather belts are classic and make you and your outfit look much more polished and put together. Oh, and while you’re at it, make sure your shoes match your belt.
Don’t get caught with your pants (falling) down. Make sure when you shop for your next belt, you take into account the fit, style, material type, buckle/closure, and how you want to present yourself. If your old go-to has been failing you, maybe try a type of belt you haven’t tried before. A new belt can really freshen up your outfit and keep you more comfortable.