They say a dog is a man’s best friend. But if your $350 raw denim jeans have stretched just that little more than expected, a dog isn’t going to help them sit comfortably at your waistline. A belt will. Standing as one of the most widely used accessories, a good belt can complete any outfit in addition to holding up your pants.
After years of evolution, the belt has subdivided into different styles for specific uses. Here’s just a handful of the most common ones out there.
With a slim strap and a frame style buckle, the dress belt is typically matched with one’s shoes in a smarter outfit. Dress belt straps are traditionally made from a sturdy, smooth leather with minimal detailing. Although it’s more common to wear dress belts with more formal outfits, a smart cinch is an effective way to dress up a casual outfit, if done right.
Available for $85 from Epaulet.
Casual Leather Belt
Some leather belts with similar qualities to the dress belt will have a wider strap placing them in the casual category. While dress belt straps usually sit between 1″-1.25″ in width, casual leather belts will generally have strap widths of 1.5″ or more. Belts of this nature often use a more rugged leather like a vegetable-tanned or roughout. They’ll also be equipped with larger and often less polished buckles to match the casual style.
The Standard Belt from Tanner Goods ticks all of these boxes, with a strap built from natural vegetable-tanned tooling cowhide leather. Each belt features hand-waxed edges, a tonal keeper loop, stainless steel buckle and hardware, and embossed Tanner Goods branding on the strap.
Available for $105 from Division Road.
A style that’s taken up the fashion spotlight more recently is the web belt. With a strap made from webbed cotton canvas, the web belt was a standard part of U.S. Army uniform in the second World War. Fully adjustable and equipped with a box style buckle, the web belt is a versatile utilitarian classic that has appeared on the catwalk in recent years in collections from high-end brands such as Off-White.
San-Fransico company DSPTCH produces contemporary renditions of mil-spec straps, backpacks, cases, and belts. The DSPTCH Utility belt is cut at a width of 1.25″ and is constructed from a seatbelt-style webbing with a tonal Fidlock magnetic clasp for quick and easy detachment and fastening.
Available at DSPTCH for $31.
Also known as the stable belt, surcingle belts mix the aesthetics of both leather and web belts. The strap features webbed fabric with leather fittings at either end that house the holes and buckle, making for a belt that blends the smarter aspects of a dress belt with the utilitarian influences of the web belt.
The Surcingle Belt from Cable Car Clothiers features the aforementioned strap construction with handmade cotton webbing and premium leather. Handmade in the U.S.A., each Surcingle Belt features a solid brass buckle.
Available in seven colorways from Cable Car Clothiers for $78.
As well as having a more detailed and complex construction, woven belts have a degree of convenience to them that makes them highly popular. While traditional belts require holes to fasten, woven/braided belts allow the wearer to poke the buckle prong through any section of the strap thanks to the gaps in the weave. The strap material is often woven around an elastic structure, making them very comfortable and easy to adjust. Many makers use two or more contrasting colors in the weave to create a distinctive pattern. Similar to the Surcingle, woven belts will often have leather fittings at either end of the strap to make it easier to thread through the buckle.
Farneccio’s Woven Leather Belt features a densely woven strap made with two shades of brown leather. Handmade in Parma, Italy, this belt is woven around an elastane structure that adds a measure of comfort and convenience.
Available for $145 at No Man Walks Alone.
About as ornate as belts can get, western belts are embellished with studded patterns, gems, and often engraving to boot. Western belt straps are made from leather and are usually wider than other belts to accommodate the decorative details. They may not be to everyone’s taste, but belts of this ilk are a surefire way to add a touch of rugged Americana style to any outfit.
The Self Edge x HTC Stingray Peanut belt is a classic example of the western belt. Constructed from 100% black cowhide leather, the wide strap is adorned with hand-applied oxidized nickel studs, black burnished edges, and stingray skin inlays.
Each piece is made in Los Angeles and available for $295 at Self Edge.
Obijimes are the decorated rope ties traditionally used to tie Kimono. Kiriko imports vintage Obijime from Japan and distributes them via their website. As well as being a handy rope-tie, antique Obijimes are often completely handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces that can fetch good money.
Available for $38 at Kiriko.
Considered a faux pas by many, the shoelace belt is a makeshift pant-securing solution that has made its way into the fashion world. Made famous by skateboarders who found conventional belts uncomfortable, the typical shoelace belt is a long flat lace tied at the center of the waistline.
Spare laces can make for good shoelace belts, and this pair of Feit Hand Sewn Low Sneakers come with an additional pair of flat white cotton shoelaces that would be perfect for the job. But let’s face it, if you’re spending $600 on a pair of sneakers, you’re likely to have a baller belt already at your disposal.
Available for $600 at Feit.