Main pic - Belt buckles to avoid
Belts are often thrown on as an afterthought much like your wallet after you’ve purchased it; you don’t really think about it again until you need to buy a new one. And, if you’ve invested in a good quality leather one, that won’t be for years. So if you’re going to buy just the one, make it count!
In order to avoid becoming overwhelmed as you trawl through page after page looking for a new belt, it’s best to think about what it is you really need beforehand. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy several belts, by all means go ahead, but if you only hand one, this is what it should be.
Material - Ideally your belt should be made from good quality leather. Admittedly, those Primark belts will hold your trousers up but they miss the mark in terms of ‘quality’. A good quality belt not only looks better but lasts much longer making it better value for money in the end.
Colour - You should ideally choose a belt in dark brown or black depending on which shoe colour your wear. Style beginners should always match their belt to their shoes.
Width - Look for a belt width between 1 and 1.5” inches as this is most flattering on the majority of men.
Style - Opt for a simple, classic design with an understated silver-coloured buckle. This style won’t date and will suit formal and smart-casual outfits.
A belt is utilitarian, for the most part but it doesn’t hurt to look too, so buying something you like and find attractive is worth it. I believe the things you use and touch the most in your everyday life should be of high quality… things like your wallet, your everyday bag, your favorite pair of denim. Most of us wear a belt every day, so add this to your splurge list once you have extra disposable income.
Keep it classic. You want this belt to go with everything (aside from, say, a morning suit or your pyjamas), so classic styling with understated hardware is the best choice.
The many shades of brown
Brown shoes brown belt, black shoes black belt. You’ve heard the rule. Since brown leather comes in many shades, and since we’re taking about the one belt you need, just pick one that matches close enough to the color of your shoes.
It doesn’t have to be exact, just close. Your belt and shoes are worn far enough apart on your body that no one really notices.
If you’re a fan of tan or walnut colored leather, you’ll need a belt for that as well.
Make sure it fits
The most common mistake when choosing a belt is to assume that your belt size is the same as your trouser or waist size. However, your belt has to go around your underwear, tucked in shirt and your trousers as well as you, so your belt size is usually 1-2 inches larger.
The best way to be sure of your size is to look at a belt you already own and know fits you well. Leading manufacturers of belts all use the same sizing system and typically have the size stamped on the back in inches e.g. 34, 36, 29 etc. However, if there is no size given you will need to measure your belt using a tape measure. If your favourite belt is well-worn, you should check the size anyway as even the best quality leather will stretch over time.
To measure your belt, carefully stretch it out over a flat surface and using a measuring tape, measure from where the buckle attaches to the belt to the hole on the belt that fits you best (not the tip or the middle hole!).
On your new belt, this same dimension will be from there the buckle attaches to the belt to the middle hole. From this middle hole most belts have two punched holes longer (at one inch increments) and two punched holes shorter (at one inch increments). This allows you the widest relevant range in adjusting your belt, should you need to.
Things to avoid
Avoid big western-style belt buckles, crazy leather designs, synthetic materials, fabric belts, LED buckles, trashy words or plastic bling like the ones in the photo at the top of the page. All these belts would technically be okay given the right occasion but this article is focusing on the one belt you need, if you only had one.
The belts below are made from quality leather in timeless designs so would make ideal investment pieces.
Plain Brown Full Grain Leather Belt Style Greenwich £23.99
Plain Black Soft Hide Leather Belt £27.84
Prime Hide Dark Brown Designer Leather Belt Style 423 £23.99
Now you know what to look for the next time you’re buying a belt. A classic style will go with everything, from your dark denim to chinos, even your wool trousers.
Regardless of the brand, just stick with as many of the above pointers as possible and you’ll be okay.
Check our our full range of leather belts for men