A belt can either make or break an outfit. Here’s how to buy the right leather belt.
Whether you choose to wear a belt as a fashion statement or simply to hold up a pair of trousers, here are some useful tips on how to buy the perfect leather belt.
Your choice of leather matters
Leather is an expensive texture to buy but it’s durable, stylish and guaranteed to last a really long time. Always try to match your leather – if you’re wearing brown leather shoes, then opt for a brown leather belt. This rule applies to both casual and formal weather, according to Real Men Real Style. They say, “Glossy belts should be paired with highly-polished shoes; matte shoes go with matte belts. If you’re wearing casual shoes that aren’t made of leather, you have more freedom to work with. Cloth shoes can be paired with cloth belts of a different colour.”
Ostrich leather belts
Although rare animal leathers, such as ostrich, are expensive you should still consider them casual wear despite the price tag. Take for example a high-quality ostrich skin belt – it will probably be too ostentatious for the workplace but can look slick when you’re heading for a night on the town.
Just one thing to keep in mind: eye-catching leather belts offer eye-catching detail so by wearing one, you’re likely to draw people’s attention to your midsection.
Always opt for quality
Don’t let the price of leather deter you from buying a belt – high quality belts will look good for a lot longer. And unfortunately, when you continue wearing a belt that is worn out, you’re giving people the impression that your look is not important and you don’t take any care in it.
Consider the colour
It’s a basic rule that your belt should match your shoes. But sometimes you are allowed to break this rule. While black and brown belts work well in conservative environments (at the office, for example). However, if you prefer a more outgoing look to your style, it’s perfectly okay to wear a bright belt. Business Insider says, “Make your choices based on your needs and what appeals to you. You control your style so find something that catches you’re eye because you will wear it with confidence, which others will be sure to notice.”
The belt buckle
The rule when it comes to the belt buckle is pretty simple: the bigger it is, the less formal it is. Dress belts typically have a small, flat buckle, while larger more rounded buckles are more common on casual styles. You’ll find that most dress belts have a gold- or silver-coloured finish.
How to accessorise your look
If you wear any kind of jewellery (tie pins or cufflinks) your belt should be in the same colour family. For example, silver accents should be paired with a silver belt buckle, while gold should be matched with gold. Your wedding ring is the exception, says Real Men Real Style. “There’s no need to restrict yourself to gold accents for your entire married life. The ring is understood to be a gesture independent of your personal style.”
What to look for in a belt
While quality is always important, you also need to consider the construction of a belt. Look at the stitching – you want it to be small and tight, with no loose ends along where the leather has been sewn. Don’t worry too much about forking out for designer brands – most people won’t be able to see at a glance whether it’s a high-end belt or not. But never compromise on quality.
How to wear your leather belt
GQ asked the experts for their belt-wearing tips. Here are our top ones:
“I tend to go with convention on this one. The belt should coordinate with your shoes, if not by color than by style. A casual or novelty belt goes best with sneakers or a casual style shoe. A leather belt should be worn with a dress shoe. And don’t mix black and brown accessories!” – Michael Fisher
“Keep the hardware to a minimum and always match color with color, matte with matte, and patent with patent. Avoid faux-distressed leathers; there is nothing quite like the real, lived-in wear and tear you get from genuine, high-quality leather.” – Avo Yermagyan
“For more casual looks your belt can be the statement as long as your shoes blend with your pants. Or make sure your belt blends in with your pants if your shoe is your statement piece.” – Wendi and Nicole Ferreira
“If I have a nice mid-blue suit I’ll try to find the belt and shoes in very much the same shade. I’ve been known to style a fully monochromatic look. I’m a fan of that. I never like the buckle to be too much of a “feature”. I like everything to be subtle.” – Samantha McMillen
“You want to match the vibe of what you’re wearing. The simpler the buckle, slimmer the width, and less rugged the leather, the dresser the belt is going to look.” – Jeanne Yang
Image credits: Mandy Freeman