Belts, a significant accessory in men's fashion, have followed their own style evolution over the years. For generations, men have worn various types of belts, not only to enhance the stylishness of their outfits but also for the practical purpose of keeping things secure.
While fashion is continually changing, keeping pace with it can be challenging. In the past, leather belts in basic black or brown with a simple buckle were the norm. Today, belts come in an array of designs, materials, colors, and styles.
Fashion has a way of resurrecting trends from the past, as seen with the resurgence of retro pants, whether they are flared bottoms or high-waisted trousers. However, when it comes to belts, it's essential to note that they are an accessory that remains timeless, continually evolving through the ages.
The abundance of options can sometimes leave one feeling uncertain about what belt to wear, when to wear it, and how to style it. Belts, unlike many fashion accessories, don't overwhelm you with choices. So, which type of belt should you choose for different occasions, and how should you pair it with your outfit? These questions can leave anyone pondering their choices. If you find yourself in this situation and seek guidance on selecting the right belt, knowing when to wear it, and how to coordinate it with your attire, we are here to assist you.
Before we delve into the world of belts and offer practical styling tips, let's take a moment to discuss belt buckles—an integral component of various belt types. As our belts continue to evolve in terms of style, so do the buckles. Today, you can find options ranging from diamond-studded buckles to trendy woolen buckles.
For those who prefer traditional buckles, there are several distinct styles to choose from, each suited to different purposes. Traditional buckles can be categorized into frame style, ring style, plate style, and snap buckles.
Frame Buckles: These are frequently employed in formal styling. Frame buckles come in two main styles: box frames and D frame buckles. In a box-styled buckle, there's no need for holes or prongs; instead, the belt is secured with a metal post or clasp. Conversely, a D-frame-style buckle uses enclosed spaces to hold the belt in place.
Ring-Style Buckles: These are typically paired with casual outfits and can come in O or D shapes. Ring-style buckles are commonly found on webbing, braided, and canvas belts. Belts are threaded through these buckles, with some featuring a clip mechanism that goes through holes.
Plate-Shaped Buckles: These buckles are often ornate and stylish, serving as decorative elements that reflect the wearer's personality. The plate is usually detachable and is typically used in conjunction with snap belts. This type of buckle is perfect for making a statement and drawing attention on special occasions.
Snap Buckles: These are less commonly used due to their appearance. Snap buckles are primarily reserved for outdoor activities like hiking. They are casual and highly functional, making them unsuitable for everyday wear or formal events.
Understanding the different buckle styles can help you choose the right belt for the occasion and enhance your overall style.
Types of belts
Now that we've covered the various types of buckles and how they work, let's shift our focus to belts and explore how men can style them for different occasions in their lives. Here we go:
In addition to the more traditional and commonly used belts, leather belts can be further categorized into different types. Curious about how? Let's take a closer look:
Braided Leather Belts: If you're in search of a belt that strikes a balance between casual and chic, braided leather belts are an excellent choice. They add texture to your semi-formal attire without stealing the spotlight. For a more relaxed look, consider opting for multi-colored braided leather belts. These belts are typically used with frame-style buckles, allowing you to adjust them to your preferred fit by selecting any hole for the prong.
Suede Belts: Suede is a type of leather made from the underside of animal skin, giving it a soft and textured surface. However, suede belts are not as durable as other leather varieties. They are best suited for casual outings and are often found in shades of brown and gray.
Tooled Leather Belts: The term 'tooling' refers to a stamping process where decorative designs are imprinted onto the leather. These patterns are then stained to create distinctive and stylish designs. The best way to style these belts is to pair them with simple outfits that could use an extra touch of flair. They add a unique element to your look.
Full-Grain Leather Belts: Full-grain leather is characterized by its toughness, thickness, and natural surface with minimal processing. Unlike other leather varieties, it isn't buffed or sanded to remove marks but retains its original imperfections. Full-grain leather belts are considered one of the highest-quality leather options. They can be paired with formal wear and customized with a loop or ring buckle to achieve a fashionable and sophisticated appearance.
Understanding the characteristics of different leather belts will help you choose the right one to complement your outfit and style for any occasion.
This material is composed of polyurethane layered onto a fabric backing, making it a form of artificial or synthetic leather. Despite being synthetic, it closely resembles real leather and boasts excellent durability when properly maintained. It requires minimal care and can be effortlessly paired with your everyday jeans or even formal attire. The choice of color pattern and how well it complements your clothing will determine whether it suits a casual or formal look.
A robust fabric is employed, woven into a flat strip or tube with varying dimensions. This type of belt falls into the category of casual belts and is ideal for pairing with jeans or shorts during outdoor activities. To infuse a touch of informality and playfulness, you can incorporate colors and patterns into the design. Webbed belts typically feature ring buckles, enhancing their laid-back and relaxed style.
Canvas belts are typically paired with box buckles and have their roots in military design. These belts are prized for their functionality and exceptional durability. They are crafted from cotton or acrylic blends, offering a pleasing texture. Notably, the use of high-quality cotton and nylon materials ensures that these belts melt when burned, a sign of their superior quality and composition.
These belts are the epitome of trendiness, chic style, and fashion-forward elegance, often associated with a preppy aesthetic. It's a common misconception that these belts are exclusively for women. In reality, any man with a keen sense of style and the ability to stand out from the ordinary can confidently sport these belts. The beauty of these belts lies in their simplicity; they don't require any specific buckle since the rope loop itself is sufficient to secure them. They are built to be durable, easy to clean, and an excellent choice when you're embarking on adventurous activities.
These belts are often considered less favorable by many due to their inexpensive quality, which tends to have a shorter lifespan. However, if you're a young individual who doesn't want to make a significant investment in belts, they can be a suitable choice. They offer a wide range of colors and patterns, catering to the preferences of young men who embrace vibrant colors and diverse styles without hesitation.
Indeed, it's essential not to judge these belts solely by their names. They aren't exclusive to dresses. These are slim leather belts that men also choose when their pant loops are narrower, and a wide, thick belt wouldn't be suitable. Typically, they have a glossy finish and are available in classic black or brown, offering a versatile option for various outfits.
When not to wear a belt
Certainly, while our main focus is on providing a guide to belts, it's crucial to also recognize situations where using suspenders instead of a belt is more appropriate. Here's when you might consider suspenders:
Pants Without Belt Loops: The key indicator is when your pants lack belt loops. In such cases, suspenders are a practical choice.
Stylish and enjoyable: Suspenders can introduce a stylish and enjoyable element to your attire. If you're unsure about them, you can experiment with them at home to see how they complement your look.
Button and Clip Options: Suspenders are available in both button-on and clip-on varieties, giving you flexibility in how you wear them.
Reduced Waist Bulk: Suspenders can help minimize the bulk around your waist compared to using a belt, resulting in a sleeker appearance.
Height Illusion: Suspenders can also create the illusion of added height, making them an excellent choice for those aiming to appear taller.
In these situations, suspenders can serve as a stylish and functional alternative to belts, enhancing your overall look.
If you find yourself uncertain about how to style your belt, here's a valuable tip: coordinate the metal elements with your leather choices. Ensure that your belt complements the metals used in your shoes and other accessories, and you'll leave a lasting impression.
Belts play a significant role in men's accessories, and gaining a thorough understanding of them can set you apart from the rest in terms of style and sophistication.
Written by: Aakanksha Bajpai
Edited by: Aniket Joshi