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Everything you need to know about men’s leather belts

man wearing casual leather belt with jeans and check shirt

Every man needs a decent leather belt in his wardrobe. And not just to hold your trousers up. A simple belt can make or break an outfit. It can be the final accessory to top-off a stylish look, or a glaring anomaly that completely ruins a carefully put-together outfit.

So if you’re struggling to find a belt to complement your outfit, here’s everything you need to know about men’s leather belts

How to choose a belt

Choosing a leather belt isn’t rocket science but there are a few hard and fast rules to follow when selecting men’s leather belts to match your outfit. Take time to consider the material, colour, buckle and fastenings, and strap width. Here’s a few pointers to get you started...

What material is best for belts? 

The material you choose for your belt really depends on the occasion. Belts for formal and business wear should always be leather. For more casual, summer looks, a relaxed fabric belt can be just the ticket. If you can avoid it though, stay away from cheap faux leather belts - or ‘pleather’ (plastic leather) as we call it. Cheap, fake leather belts look exactly as you would expect - cheap and fake.

As makers of fine men’s leather belts we are, of course, going to advocate leather as the best option! We’d be lying if we said otherwise. However, it’s important to note that not all leathers are made equal. 

One of the most popular leathers we work with is oak bark tanned leather. It’s particularly special because it’s made by ancient natural tanning methods that use solely oak bark and fresh stream water. The finished product is strong, lightweight, aesthetically beautiful and smells amazing!

men's leather belts on hook

Another top quality leather we work with is the internationally renowned Horween Leather. This leather uses the traditional method of vegetable tanning - using vegetable liquors taken from tree barks. The leather is conditioned with natural oils and greases, and hand-dyed for a natural finish. It has a timeless appeal, blending functionality and style. Long-lasting yet beautiful. 

So to summarise, what material is best for belts? For formal, business and even smart-casual, always choose good quality leather!

Which colour belt to choose

The colour of a belt can be the difference between wedding-day formal and casual drinks with the lads. The general rule is that if you want your outfit to look smart and formal, choose black or navy leather belts (depending on the colour of your suit). For everything else, brown coloured belts are the most versatile option - it pretty much goes with everything. 

The shade of brown is really up to you. Natural, un-dyed leather is one of our favourites because it develops its own unique patina with use. It darkens with wear and ages beautifully, as you age (beautifully also, of course).

natural leather men's belt on display box

Dark brown leather belts can look more traditional and mature, whilst tan or chestnut belts are offset nicely against a pair of denim jeans.

A short guide to belt buckles and fastenings 

As with the quality of the leather, the quality of a belt’s buckles and fastenings can really impact the look of the belt. Cheap fastenings look cheap. Quality fastenings look quality. It’s as simple as that!

Stainless steel fastenings look best with black, navy or brown belts, whilst brass fastenings match perfectly with brown leather belts. We love working with Abbey England brass buckles, known internationally for their high-quality, British-made metalwork.

pile brass belt buckles on leather

A traditional frame-style buckle is the best option for formal and business wear, whilst D rings and plate style buckles produce a more casual effect.

Choosing the strap width for your belt

A chunky, wide belt will completely overwhelm a smart business suit whilst a delicate, thin strap would look ridiculous with a pair of thick, denim jeans.

To put it simply, thinner belts are more formal, wider belts more casual. 

A standard belt for casual wear is 40mm - it fills the loops on jeans perfectly and works well for all but formal styles. 

A 35mm wide belt is a good go-to if you’re looking for a belt to cross between smart and casual - works well with suits, but can also be dressed-down with jeans or chinos. 

Formal dress belts should be 30mm - this width works better with trousers made of finer material. They also look great with skinny trousers or high-waisted trousers.

Finally, if you have a slighter frame or waist under 34”, we’d recommend choosing a narrower 30-35mm belt width to complement your build.

How long should your belt be?

The beauty of choosing a custom-made belt is that you get to choose the length that fits you exactly. Check-out our guide to measuring your belt size to get the perfect fit.

how to measure your belt size diagram

Formal belts should only have a short tail-end - just enough to tuck into the first belt loop on your trousers. Casual belts can get away with being a bit longer, but not so long that you have metres of leather wrapped around your waist!

Need some help choosing a belt?

We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch if you have any questions about belt widths, lengths, materials, colour… anything! We custom-make all our belts for each customer, so please don’t be shy. Browse our blog for style inspiration and take a look around our shop to see some of our men’s leather belts.

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