It might be the simplest item in any man’s wardrobe: an article of clothing whose main mission is to cinch the clothes around your waist. But like all simple things in fashion, it’s worth taking the time to get it right, every time. Since you’ll be wearing a belt during some of your most important milestones—weddings, interviews, meetings, anniversary dinners, and more—it helps to know how to buy and select the right belt for any occasion. This is the ultimate guide for men’s belts!
Here’s Your Ultimate Guide for Men’s Belts
Consider the following when selecting and styling your belts:
How to Size a Belt
Belts come with different notches depending on your size, so it matters which one you pick. Ideally, you’ll want to select a belt in which you’re “right in the middle,” with a few notches on either side when comfortably dressed. This is critical for giving your belt a balanced look.
Another tip is to give yourself some room. Typically, if you wear a size 36” waist comfortably, you’ll want a 38-40” inch belt so you have some slack. It’s usually better to err on the side of too large, as extra belt material will fold easily into the belt loops. On the other hand, a belt that’s too small will look strange.
Belt Buckle Styles
A belt isn’t just a functional article of clothing—it can be an outfit-defining accessory. Here are some belt buckle styles you might consider:
- The classic tongue. This is a common belt buckle style in which a metal “tongue” slides through the hole in the belt. You might also see these referred to as “frame” style buckles.
- Snap buckles. A snap buckle is adjustable but secure. It features a solid plate over the exterior that provides a visual alternative to the classic tongue style.
- Braided belts. This is usually a classic tongue arrangement, but the material of the belt itself is braided, so you can adjust the belt through the braiding rather than holes.
You’ll also see belts divided into “styles,” such as “frame style” (more like a classic tongue) and “plate style” (more like a snap buckle). The infamous “cowboy belt buckles” allow the plate itself to become the accessory.
Matching Belts with Shoes
When it comes to choosing your belt color, there’s a rule of thumb: match your shoes and your belt color precisely. For example, if you’re wearing brown shoes with a blue suit, you’ll want to wear a brown belt. The major faux pas is to pair black shoes with a brown belt, and vice versa. Otherwise, there are plenty of other options for matching your belts with your shoes, including:
- Complementary colors. If you wear a canvas-style belt (often a belt with multiple colors), you can always choose complementary colors in the shoes. For example, white and navy would go with brown.
- Match the formality. Are you going casual or formal? Don’t send mixed messages with a formal tongue-style belt and then sneakers. Match the formality level of your shoes to your belt in almost every occasion.
Belts vs. Suspenders
The idea behind the belt is that it will tighten your pant waist and keep the pants up. But there’s another accessory that accomplishes the same thing: suspenders.
Should you wear both at the same time? After all, they’re both accessories, right? Not exactly. Because they both serve a practical purpose as well, using both a belt and suspenders would be a strange look, and would overwhelm the appearance of your suit.
Matching Belts with Your Trousers
Keeping in mind the same principles as matching your belts with your shoes, here are some additional tips for making sure your belts don’t look out of place with the trousers you choose:
- When wearing casual khakis like Performance Dress Khakis, a thick leather belt will usually do the trick. However, if you go even more casual with khaki shorts, a more casual belt option such as a canvas belt will suit you just as well.
- For dress pants like Super 100’s Gabardine pants, formal belts like black braided belts will do well, especially if you’re wearing dress black shoes.
- When wearing something more casual, like denim jeans, you can wear a casual leather belt or a canvas belt.
Complete Your Look with Men’s Trousers from Berle
Choosing the right belt for your outfit may not be intuitive at first, but as you learn the proverbial ropes, you’ll have a much clearer view of how to choose the right belts to purchase. Complete your new outfit with an appropriate pair of men’s trousers from Berle, too. Soon, you’ll be looking as stylish as ever!