A leather belt for men is more than just an accessory. If worn right, it is the perfect complement to a man’s outfit (and wardrobe), a fashion statement within itself that can garner him respect.
Of course, the keywords here are “if worn right”. Choosing a leather belt that enhances your outfit is an art and it does no favours if you choose one carelessly. If you are a reasonably fashionable man, let’s take a look at how you can wear a leather belt so that it amplifies your look.
Fashion and Function Factors for Men’s Leather Belts
For a lot of you men out there, choosing a leather belt might not take as much precedence as choosing a leather bag or a pair of shoes. So if you’re not familiar with what to look for in a leather belt, you might need some pointers. With that said, the key factors to look out for when buying and wearing and leather belts are as follows:
- Usage & occasion - The two main categories in this regard are formal or casual use.
- Strap width - As the name suggests, this consideration deals with the width of the belt.
- Strap material - There are various types of leather that manufacturers can use to make a belt with, and it’s important to know what they are and which one will work best for you.
- Strap colour - It goes without saying that the colour you choose will either coordinate well with your outfit or stick out like a sore thumb.
- Buckle type - The design and make of the buckle is also important to think about, considering it holds the belt together and is its most visible component.
With these five factors in mind, let’s take a look at how to make the right choice in each category so that you walk away with the best leather belt possible.
Choosing the Right Leather Belt for Casual and Formal Uses
The belt you’d wear when hanging at a sports bar with your buddies shouldn’t be the one you wear to a wedding. That’s where the formal and casual belt distinction comes in. Choosing the right one for the right occasion will set you apart from the majority of men who overlook this.
Formal Leather Belts for Men
- Formal belts have thinner strap widths
- They’re made with a thinner, softer and sleeker strap material
- They have smaller, sleeker buckles
- Formal belts are almost always made with leather
Casual Leather Belts for Men
- Casual belts have broader strap widths
- They’re made with a tougher, thicker, and rugged strap material
- They have larger buckles
- They may or may not be made with leather
If you’re looking for comprehensive selection criteria to choose a leather belt, then these two categories might provide you with all the guidance you need. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to go a bit deeper.
Leather Belt Strap Width - Ideal Measurements
As we mentioned above, formal belts are thinner while casual ones are broader. You may only need to eyeball one of each belt to identify which one would be better for a casual or formal event. However, if that’s not possible for certain reasons (ie. because you’re buying online), then you can take some measurements to heart.
Measurements for Casual Men’s Leather Belts
- Casual belts are typically 1.5-1.75 inches wide
- Some belts can be wider and they tend to be more casual
- With these measurements, casual belts work best with heavier fabrics, chinos, denim and jeans
Measurements for Formal Men’s Leather Belts
- Formal belts are typically 1-1.5 inches wide
- A belt that’s less than 1 inch in width will suit a smaller man (typically classified as having a waist circumference under 34”
These measurements can vary to some degree, but they’re fairly standard in terms of whether they’re better for casual or formal uses.
Choosing the Ideal Leather Belt Strap Material
For the sake of this article, we’ll focus on the importance of choosing the right type of leather (as opposed to other materials). With that said, leather can be sourced from a variety of different animals, and their source has an effect on how a leather belt looks, how it fits, and how long it lasts.
Ultimately, your choice in leather really boils down to persona; taste but knowing how different types of leather “act” can help you get the most bang for your buck.
Types of Leather Common in Belts
- Cowhide - The most popular type of leather used in belts, cowhide (aka full-grain leather) stands out as the most attractive and durable type of leather. Cowhide leather, unsurprisingly, can be found in the most formal belts.
- Reptilian - Crocodile and alligator leather tends to go in casual belts, although it gives them a more upscale look. With that said, darker crocodile and alligator leather skins can look great in formal belts as well.
- Ostrich - A little less common is an ostrich leather belt, which is higher-priced yet fittingly so due to its bold pockmarked design. Ostrich leather is fairly neutral and can work for both formal and casual settings or events.
- Faux - Although we don’t recommend going the faux leather route, it is common due to its low-maintenance and low-cost nature. With that said, you can expect this type of leather to look like it’s of lower quality.
Again, your choice of leather material here will depend on your taste. Nevertheless, each type will be more suitable for certain types of outfits and scenarios.
How to Pick the Leather Belt With the Right Buckle
We could take several hours of your time discussing leather belt buckles (but we won’t), because of how diverse they are. With that said, let’s look at the belt buckles that are standard for leather belts.
Before diving into these styles, however, we want to remind you how important it is to choose a belt buckle that compliments your entire outfit. Remember, the buckle is often the shiniest and most visible aspect of the belt, so it had better fit in with what you’re wearing!
The Most Suitable Buckles for Men’s Leather Belts
- Frame-style buckle - These buckles can work with both formal and casual belts. They get their name from their square-ish design and are typically bigger and thicker than other buckles.
- Plate-style buckle - Once very popular in the 19th-century for military belts, plate-style buckles feature a three-hook clasp with two hooks at one end of the belt and one hook on the opposite end. They aren’t as popular as they were before but they still work well with casual belts and outfits.
- Box frame buckle - The box frame buckle style gained major popularity in the 20th century and was worn and continues to be worn mainly with casual outfits. It features a three-part design - the post, back and front.
- Ring-style belt buckles - There are two common types of “ring-style” belt buckles - D-rings and O-rings. As their names imply, D-rings are shaped like the letter “D” and “O” rings, like an “O”. They can easily be adjusted by pulling or loosening the belt strap. The advantage of these buckles is that they can be used for all sorts of outfits including casual, semi-casual and formal ones.
- Snap belt buckles - The snap belt buckle isn’t as popular as the other buckles, but they do complement casual outfits fairly well. They are functional and the design has one end attached to the buckle while the other end is attached in a secure but adjustable way.
As we mentioned above, there are several other belt buckle styles out there, but it would take an entire post to cover them all (hint hint...stay tuned for such a thing!)
How to Pick the Best Leather Belt Strap Colour
Last but not least of the belt buying factor to consider is colour. Like all things fashion, belt colours matter, because they can enhance the look of your outfit or dampen it so you want to choose wisely. We won’t spend too much time on colour since aren’t really any rules.
Nevertheless, there are some colours that work better with formal belts versus casual belts and vice-versa. For example, if you want your belt to give your outfit a colourful accent, then you’ll want to choose neutral colours such as black, white or brown. But if you want your leather belt to steal the show and really stand out, then you can get away with brighter, more vivacious colours. Granted, you might not find many leather belts in bright, exotic shades.
Choosing a Men’s Leather Belt - It’s Not Child’s Play
Sure, you can shop for leather belts without paying any attention to their finer qualities. You can jump at the first deal you see. But just because it’s an accessory to your outfits, it doesn’t mean you should choose them haphazardly. A leather belt will elevate the look of your outfit if you choose the right one to coordinate with your clothing. If you get the details right, you’ll not only own a leather belt you’re proud of, but you will also turn heads wherever you go.
Need help finding the right men’s leather belt for your outfits? Get in touch with us so that we can help you pick the one that matches your style and tastes.