Shopping for men's belts is an experience unto its own. It’s not really like shopping for other garments because the belt is unlike any other item of clothing. It's one of the only men's accessories that relies on an individual's body measurements. Whereas virtually all men's ties and men's socks fit almost any purchaser, a men's belt has to fit just right.
Certainly, you need to consider size, but there are also questions of personal style and trends. What’s a stylish belt if not also on a well-dressed man? A belt is one of your closet’s most understated items, but it can make the biggest impact. Read on for tips on buying a belt and how best to accommodate style preferences and colors.
The first thing to consider when ordering a men’s belt is the measurement of the belt itself. Like a pair of pants, a belt's width is typically measured in inches. But unlike a pair of pants, you shouldn't buy the width that corresponds to the wearer's waist measurement. Be sure to buy a belt size that is at least two inches greater. For instance, if you typically wear size 32 pants, you should purchase a size 34 belt.
When a belt is buckled, there must be an allowance for an overlap. This allows the end of the belt to pass through the buckle and be tucked into a belt loop if desired. Some men prefer a longer tail, and others prefer something on the shorter side. If you're buying for someone else, ask the person before you pick out a size. Better to measure twice and buy once.
Proper sizing is not the only consideration. The color and width of the belt will play a large role in deciding what color and style of shoes to wear. Plus, the environment matters, too. Is it an office party? A presentation at work? Perhaps it’s a formal dinner entertaining potential clients. The belt can truly tie the look together.
We wouldn't consider ourselves to be sticklers for the rules, but there is one commandment of men's dress we steadfastly uphold: black belts with black shoes, and brown belts with brown shoes. It provides a streamlined look that’s as elegant as it is stylish.
When the colors are mismatched—whether that is a black belt with brown shoes, a brown belt with black shoes—the items will stand out against one another in stark contrast. This is especially true if it’s a suit. This sort of contrast calls attention to the wrong components of the outfit. Ultimately, you want to look put together, seamless from head to toe, so you can win over the new clients with your top-notch strategy. The suit makes you feel confident, and the coordinating belt and men’s dress shoes help you seal the deal.
Some fashion trendsetters prefer the "no brown in town" approach—that is, black shoes and belt are generally favored for more urban, formal events. While you can make the case that a black belt worn with black shoes is more formal, both black and brown shoes can be worn with suits. At the end of the day—or the beginning when you’re just getting dressed!—just make sure the belt and shoes match.
There is no "right" or "wrong" width for a belt. Rather, your other items of clothing and environment can dictate which belt is best. If you plan to wear it casually with men's jeans, a wider belt could be a great choice. A wider belt—which we might loosely define as a belt that is 1-3/8" inches wide or more—can complement the naturally rugged character of denim. Plus a wider belt with denim pairs great with a classic flannel shirt in a bold plaid or a striking chambray button-down. It’s a solid, standard masculine look.
However, the same width belt worn with a suit can look chunky and may awkwardly disturb the clean line of a suit. Instead, consider a belt in what's called a "dress width." Generally speaking, that's a width of 1-3/16" inches or less. This may seem like an inconsequential difference on paper, but it presents a strong contrast visually. Because of that thinner width, a dress belt blends into the waistline of pants, therefore offering a more formal look.
A dress belt can be worn with jeans as well, and when paired with a men’s V-neck sweater, makes for a classic, dress-up or dress-down outfit. Throw on a blazer, and you’re ready for Friday night dinner in a snap. If you are looking for a belt you can wear with anything in your wardrobe, we'd recommend looking for a belt in a dress width to start.