Belts are great — they hold your pants up, they keep your shirt tucked in so that it doesn’t blouse out, and they create a great visual divide for your outfit to keep your look neat and streamlined. But for some reason, many men tend to steer clear of belts. Well, it’s time to put an end to this madness: Every man needs three essential belts in his life. Here’s how to find that perfect fitting belt. You won’t realize until you wear one consistently just how much the right belt can pull your entire look together.
How to figure out the right fit
It’s quite obvious that if you don’t have the right fitting belt then it really can’t do its job properly. As a general rule, dress belts should have a few inches of leather to the left of the buckle once it’s fastened — it should be enough to tuck under the first belt loop on your pants or on the loop of the belt if it has one. It’s better to err on the side of shortness of your belt, rather than opting for one you “guesstimate” to fit because it shouldn’t be so long of a tail that it will begin to wrap around your waist for the second time. Although casual belts have a little more give in terms of belt length and style, having one that has an overly long tail end always makes for an awkward look.
Next, it’s time to figure out what your ideal belt size should be. Belt sizes are usually measured against a range of pant sizes. Stick to this rule when figuring out your size: Pick your belts two or three sizes larger than your pants to ensure a good fit. For example, if you wear a size 34-inch trouser, a belt labeled 36-38 inches will probably be your ideal fit; you’ll want to try the belt on at the store and heed our sizing recommendation, or at the very least, wrap the belt around your waist and over your pants to see if it fits. The number on the belt corresponds to the length of the tour strap, which is measured from the buckle to the mid hole. This allows for slightly higher or lower waist trousers, as well as the natural variations of waist sizes that we all go through. Just be sure if belts are sized S, M, L, XL you make sure of the sizing equivalency.
1. The dress belt
Dress belts are meant to make your work pants or trousers look better. They tend to be thinner (between 1 and 1½ inches wide — or pick one about the width of your thumb) and typically have a shiny, glossier finish. Dress belts are always leather with sleek and subtle belt buckles, while some are reversible with black on one side and brown on the other.
As for your ideal color dress belt, you can determine the color of your belt by the color of your favorite dress shoes. If you’re the kind of guy who wears black shoes because they match everything, then you need a black dress belt to match and compliment your favorite black shoes. After all, it’s better investing in a black one because it has the most versatility. However, if you’re more of a brown dress shoe kind of guy, then your belt selection is a little more complicated. If you’re planning on matching your belt to your shoes, then take them along with you because it’s nearly impossible to match browns from memory. Or you can just buy a reversible belt.
Try this one:
Men’s Dress Chino Belt in Black, llbean.com
2. The casual belt
Casual belts are a time to express your personality and be more experimental with your style. Casual belts are worn with any kind of casual pants like chinos, jeans, and khakis and are typically wider than formal belts and range in appropriate width, up to the width of the pants’ belt loops. Although the width range is largely up to you and the size of your loophole, there are still some general guidelines to adhere to. For example, thinner belts (width ranging between 1.5 and 2.2cm) are suitable for skinny jeans, whereas wider styles can be work with any type of casual trouser or pant.
There are two main casual belt options: fabric/synthetic or leather. But the casual belt buckle comes in every size, shape, and material you can think of. To perfect your casual, off-duty look, Derian Baugh, CEO of Men’s Style Lab, recommends to Men’s Health that opting for a sturdy, genuine leather belt is best because it’s more durable and less susceptible to wear and tear.
Try this one:
2-IN-1 Reversible Casual Leather Belt in Tan, express.com
3. The fun belt
It’s time to step away from leather belts and start thinking about fun belts in the same way you would think about fun socks: They’re an accessory to add personality to your outfit, and they also show that you pay attention to details. From fabric belts, to braided cotton ones, to suede with interesting belt buckles, these don’t need to match, they just need to coordinate with your outfit. Pair them with chinos, jeans, and your favorite winter sweaters for a great weekend look. Simply find one you love and then build your outfit around it if you so choose.
Try this one:
Loro Piana 3.5cm Light-Blue Suede Belt in blue, mrporter.com