Brands: Many shoemakers also make belts. For <$75 consider Cole Haan or Johnston and Murphy. For $75-150 consider Allen Edmonds or Alden. For >$150 consider Crockett and Jones, Salvatore Ferragamo, Edward Green, or John Lobb. Fashion brands also make dress belts, such as Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, Hermes, Gucci and Prada. For dress belts that contain silver and gold check out M Kelty or James Reid Ltd.
- The formal belt should match your shoes in color, contrast, hue, and tone. Bonus points if the belt is made from the same leather.
- A shinier leather finish is more acceptable.
- It should be 1 1/4″ – 1 3/8″ wide.
- The belt should be approximately 1/8″ thick.
- The belt should be long enough that it goes under the first belt loop after the buckle. The belt should not be so long that is not laying flat against itself. The belt should be no longer than 3 inches beyond that loop. If your belt is weaker you may wish to wear it shorter.
- Formal belts usually taper at the edges
(AE), frequently due to stitching along the belt’s perimeter. Some dress belts have no visible stitching
(AE), but are just as acceptable.
- The buckle should be minimalist, polished, somewhat narrow, and single pronged.
- The belt should lack all excessive styling.
- Reversible black/brown belts are certainly the more frugal option. However the opposing side is occasionally visible, so reversibles are not advised.
- For less formal, but still dressy occasions consider exotic leather paired with fine shoes. Alligator
(RLPL) is the most popular, but I also like lizard. Other exotic leathers to consider include sting ray, crocodile, ostrich, and snake.
(C+J) is an example of some beautiful, simple dress belts.
Brands: Many clothing brands make casual belts. Consider J Crew, Banana Republic, Gap, American Apparel, Levi, LL Bean, Land’s End, Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, et cetera. You can find some exceptional casual leather belts from Leather Goods Connection, Corter, Equus, Narragansett, Worcestershire, and Tanner leather. Also note that many shoemakers, such as Allen Edmonds and Crockett and Jones also make casual leather belts. Alternatively, you can:
make your own belt.
- Casual belts do not have to perfectly match shoes. For instance you can have dark brown shoes and a mid-brown belt, or you can have white shoes with a light brown belt. I personally advise that the belt and shoes to vary by at least a shade. However we still advise black with black.
- The belt’s width can vary between 1″ and 2″, although most casual belts fall between 1 1/4″ and 1 3/4″.
- The leather’s thickness can range from below 1/8″ up to 3/4″.
- The belt should be long enough that it goes under the first belt loop after the buckle. The belt should not be so long that is not laying flat against itself. The belt should be no longer than 3 inches beyond that loop. If your belt is weaker you may wish to wear it shorter. An exception includes if you want the belt to “hang” at the side.
- Its buckle may be round or flat, small or large, matte or polished. The more casual the occasion, the less elegant the buckle required.
- The buckle may be single pronged or double pronged.
- D-ring buckles are acceptable, but keep in mind that these are very casual.
and striped belts are acceptable, but don’t over-do it. Remember to adhere to the basic tenets of style.
- Alternatively, needle-point or critter belts have something of a following in the go-to-hell genre.
- Braided leather belts
can add some nice texture to your outfit. Braid styles vary significantly.
- Exotic leather can also work in some smarter
- Be careful about excessive styling. Less is usually more.
There are a lot of different belts out there, some of which aren’t covered in this guide. Keep in mind that as your outfit approaches semi-formal, more of the Formal rules apply. Apply prudence as necessary.
- The simplest way to store your belts is to use a belt hanger. If you google belt hanger there are many different options.
- If you want to make a cheap belt hanger, you can flatten out a common metal hanger and curl it into an S shape to hold the belts.
- Alternatively, if you don’t want to hang the belts, you can keep them curled up in a shoebox, or similarly small box. I personally prefer to hang my belts so that they remain straight.
Leather Belt Care
- If dirty, clean the belt with a soft rag and very little warm water. If necessary, use leather cleaner. Note: cleaning the belt will remove essential oils, so conditioner must be used afterwards or the leather will dry out.
- Lay the belt down on a towel and apply leather conditioner.
- Work the conditioner into the leather with a fine 100% cotton cloth.
- When evenly applied, leave the conditioner to be absorbed. This should take 15-30 minutes.
- The belt should now be dry. Make sure that there is no residue on the belt, lest it sink into your clothing.
- Repeat approximately once a season, or as you see fit.