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June 25, 2022 6 min read
Belts are an essential part of every man’s wardrobe. They perform an important function (keeping your pants up) and are also a way to express style. Professional and formal events demand them, and they make your casual wear more comfortable. A well-crafted belt adds that finishing touch to your look. Since a belt is often a daily use item, it’s wise to invest in high-quality belts. They will wear better and last longer, and look good the whole time.
A men’s belt is an engineered tool, complete with unique hardware. With their functional design, it pays to choose a well-constructed belt. Keep reading if you’ve ever wondered what the little metal bar that goes through your belt holes is called. Here are the parts of a belt.
The strap is the main part of the belt that contains the holes and buckle. Straps can vary in width, depending on the style of the belt.
The buckle is what you slide the strap through to fasten the belt. Three pieces make up the buckle.
This is the central part of the buckle, and it can be rounded or square.
The bar is the base of the frame and is what the strap uses to connect to the buckle. It is covered by the end of the strap.
This is the metal bar that goes through the belt holes. It’s connected to the bar at one end. The other end rests in the frame, securing the belt.
The loop holds the end of the strap to the belt after it’s been put on.
This is the opposite of the buckle at the end of the strap. You thread this end through your belt loops.
These are the small holes punched into the belt material that allow you to fasten your belt. A well-fitting belt fastens at the middle hole.
Leather is the most classic material for men’s belts and is quite popular due to its attractiveness and durability.
While less expensive than genuine leather, products made with imitation leather lose their looks and wear out more quickly.
Often made into a rugged canvas, cotton belts are popular and can be made with colors and patterns.
Used for more casual or outdoors style belts, synthetic fibers are durable and can withstand harsher outdoor environments.
Men’s belts are generally divided into two categories, formal and casual. To differentiate between a casual and a formal belt, we look at:
Dress belts tend to be thinner than casual belts and usually measure between 1 to 1.5 inches wide. They are typically black or brown with a shiny finish. Formal belt buckles are frame style and are gold or silver and tend to be smaller, sleeker, and more discrete than a casual belt buckle. Formal belts are almost always made out of leather. High-quality imitation leather is acceptable for vegans and vegetarians. (Imitation leather likely won’t wear as well as genuine leather.) Full-grain leather and top grain leather are the two highest qualities of leather used for men’s belts.
Casual belts can be made of any material, ranging from leather to woven elastic synthetic fibers to canvas made from cotton. They tend to be wider than formal belts at 1.5 to 1.75 inches, making them better able to hold up heavier, casual clothing. Their straps will likely be thicker and more durable than a formal belt. Casual belt buckles range from the frame style to plate style, which allows you to attach a decorative belt buckle plate, and box style frames.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts for wearing a stylish men’s belt.
Wear your belt at your natural waist, and don’t cinch it too tight. Consider the style of shirt or sweater you’re wearing when deciding how to tuck. Fitted shirts look better with a full tuck; a partial tuck with a fitted shirt can lead to bunching in the back. For looser shirts, try tucking the side with buttons. If you have a statement belt, tuck it in the center. If your pants bunch or crease when you are wearing a belt that fits you comfortably, you may need different pants.
Before buying a belt, know your proper belt size. A belt fits correctly when it’s comfortably secured on the middle hole. Belt sizes and pants sizes are not the same things; the general rule of thumb is to add two to your pants size for an estimated belt size. For the most accurate belt sizing, measure your waist while wearing your usual clothes. Using a cloth measuring tape, loop it through your pant loops and adjust until your pants are comfortable. Add two inches to even numbers and three for odd to find your correct belt size with that measurement. If you measured in fractions, round up or down as needed.
Belts offer more than their practical function. They make a great way to either add color to your wardrobe or highlight the color already in it. For example, if you wear a lot of red, white, or blue, you can use a belt of a similar color to bring out those existing colors. If your clothes tend towards dark or neutral colors, using a colored belt will brighten up your wardrobe.
Your belt is an opportunity to showcase your style. Use belts with color, patterns, or beautiful materials as statement pieces. Statement belts turn ordinary clothes into a complete ensemble, cementing your status as a well-dressed man. For example, Roger Ximenez’s turquoise python belt boasts the beautiful color turquoise and the rich, unique look of genuine python leather.
If reptile leather isn’t your style, consider a brightly colored belt that works with your skin tone and wardrobe. For a sunny pop, consider these differently-hued yellow belts. Add eye-catching color with a rich red or deep green full-grain leather belt. Orange adds color to any season, especially in the summer and fall. Unique leathers like crocodile and python add visual appeal through different textures and natural hues. However, the truth is that any quality belt is a statement piece and quickly elevates your look.
Don’t hide your belt with an untucked-in shirt. A good belt is meant to be seen. It pulls your ensemble together and is every man’s finishing touch. Wearing your shirt tucked in displays your belt and prevents any unnecessary bulges from a belt buckle under a shirt. If you don’t like the look of a fully tucked-in shirt, consider the French tuck, where you tuck in part of the front of your shirt, and leave the back untucked.
A belt made from high-quality materials will save you money in the long run by wearing well for longer. Cheap belts will wear out faster and will need replacing. They’re also more prone to breaking. Belt hardware is well used, so investing in a quality strap material, like full-grain leather, and quality hardware will make your belt last much longer. And, lower quality belts will start to show their age much sooner.
Full-grain leather is the highest quality of leather on the market. Full-grain leather is made with entirely intact and blemish-free animal hides. Because these hides are so pristine, they can be tanned without any modifications or treatment. Hides with marks or blemishes need to be sanded, shaved, or buffed, which removes the hide’s top layer. Removing this top layer thins the leather and compromises its ability to develop a patina. A patina is a rich, glossy sheen that full-grain leather develops naturally with time and care. In addition to being the most beautiful leather, full-grain leather is also the most durable, making it ideal for high-use items like belts and wallets.