“My belt holds my pants up, but the belt loops hold my belt up. I don’t really know what’s happening down there. Who is the real hero?”
Which brings me to this man in a dress shirt and dress pants putting on a thick, wide jeans belt; clearly are “belt rules” to share with you.
Maybe we’ve been working from home for so long that we forgot what a belt looks like (!), but when the time is right to hold up a pair of non-elasticized waist pants, this article will lay out the most important of belt considerations and the belt wardrobe I suggest you own.
You know there are “belt rules”?
So yes, men’s belts became a needed accessory when gentleman’s trousers stopped being worn at the navel, as the hips no longer were the hold-up for the pants. Since then, belts have transitioned as part need, part fashion accessory.
As with anything “fashionable”, in business one most safely follows general trends, rather than being a trendsetter. Extra large belt buckles, popular in some Western States are worn in both business to social settings, but East of the Mississippi and North of the Mason Dixon line, a more than simple belt with a suit or dress clothes would not be appropriate. Slim and classic are what most men wear, with the occasional obvious designer belt buckle for a man who wishes to advertise his style and social stature in this way.
You need a belt wardrobe.
Yup! And I HOPE it does not include the black on one side brown on the other belt in one. You need a quality belt wardrobe. The difference in price from $25 to $125 will far outweigh the cost, both in ROI (wears per buy) without cracking, creasing, peeling and breaking. Oh and the buckle looking shoddy a month in.
Belts come in widths and there are two rules of thumb:
Wider width = more casual.
Thicker leather = more casual.
Belts are most often measured in millimeters. 40mm is wide, and usually reserved for a sportsman’s golf belt or a utilitarian tradesman’s jeans belt where lots of stuff gets hung off it for convenience. Anything wider won’t get through the belt loops of your pants.
35mm is the average for a casual belt, perfect for jeans, chino’s and shorts. 30mm is considered a suit pant belt width, and 25mm would be quite slim for a men’s belt, but some articles I have read suggest this narrowest of belts is regarded as the most formal.
Your own body and proportion are good to take into consideration as well. I would very happily guide a 5’4″ client into a 25mm dress belt. It will look best on him. For a casual belt 30mm would be right. A large man in a 25mm belt is going to look like he has a string tied around his middle.
So back to the belt wardrobe. I’m using J.Hilburn links as my examples because I like the quality and value of their made in the USA product, but you can purchase anywhere you like. Just as a quality aside, these belts and others of their ilk are made with 2 pieces of leather sewn together at the sides. Sounds pretty basic right. Not so fast, most belts on the American market are made with two REALLY thin pieces of leather and leather “sawdust” or even cardboard as the filler piece between. Yes really.
#1: a 30mm Black dress belt.
#2 a 30 mm Brown (or English Tan, Expresso or Walnut) dress belt.
Here are 3 colors of many options. Pick the ones that match your shoes. (Other article, but yes, wear brown shoes with blue and grey suits)
#3 Two or three 35mm casual belts. Here are three of my favorites:
So now you have your basic belt wardrobe, and you know that you match your belt to your shoes, not your pants, and you know which width to wear for each occasion. Got additional questions? Let me know – I’d love to help!
Ann Lindsay is Style of Success
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