A belt is just a strip of leather worn around your waist to support your pants right?Then it should be fairly easy to buy. Wait...what size do I need? Does the color matter? How about the buckle? How long do leather belts last? Turns out buying a leather belt requires a bit of knowledge. Let's go into details about leather belts and how to get one that matches your requirements.
Formal vs. Casual
Leather belts generally come in two categories, formal for dress pants and suit pants, and casual for jeans, slacks, and other casual wear. When buying a leather belt, you should first consider for what kind of pants you're buying it for. Dress pant belts should always provide a neat, professional look. For this reason, they are no more than 1.4'' (36 mm) wide and should only be long enough to pass through the first loop of the pants once wrapped around.
Casual belts on the other hand tend to be wider, starting from 1.6'' (40 mm) up to 2'' (51 mm) or more. Before buying belts too wide, ensure that your pants can support that width. Casual belts can also support longer than required (for pant support) length, depending on the look you're going for.
What size leather belt do I need?
At the core of their reason for existence, belts must provide pant support. For this reason, you must get the correct size based on your waist size. We've created a leather belt size chart for you to refer to for both casual and formal belts.
Leather Belt Quality
Leather belts come in a wide range of qualities based on the type of leather used. The most common leathers used are lamb skin, cow hide, and PU. Since dress pant belts usually need to be worn every day, they must be made from high quality leather to survive long term strain. Dress pant belts are generally made from cow hide leather, which is the strongest and least likely to tear. Casual belts can be found in lamb skin, cow hide, or PU, though cow hide is again preferred for its durability and high quality.
Both formal and casual belts can also be found in PU leather, a type of faux leather with a smooth and consistent look. Though PU leather may often look more aesthetic, it is discouraged to buy PU leather belts because they are incapable of enduring long term strains that belts require. PU leather belts generally last about 6 months, whereas a good cow hide belt can last 10+ years to a lifetime. For more information about PU leather, refer to the PU leather section in our FAQ
Leather Belts and Fashion
Though practicality and function are the main purpose, belts can also be fashionable accessories. So much so that a belt can often make or break an outfit. Now that we've got the practical down, how do we chose a fashionable belt? A good looking belt is mainly determined by its category, color, and buckle. Armed with this info, we can dive right in.
Don't wear a casual belt with formal pants or visa versa. Just don't. For formal wear, a general rule of thumb is to stick to black or any shade of brown. What's really important is to match your belt with the color of your shoes! You can even find reversible leather belts, which have a twisting buckle and are brown on one side and black on the other.
For casual wear, you generally have a lot more options and can experiment. If the belt is the most distinctive part of your outfit, that is where peoples eyes will drift to so be ware of bright colors unless that is your desired effect. Experiment, have fun, and find what works for you!
The last thing to consider when buying a leather belt, is the type of belt buckle. Formal belts usually require small, flat buckles in silver, grey, or gold finishing. Casual belts can have a wider range of buckles, ranging in size and color. Lets take a look at some of the most common belt buckles available.
Tongue Buckles: These are round or square buckles with a single or double prong that will slide through your desired hole.
Pin Buckles: Metal plates with a pin on the back that will hook through the front of your belt.
Reversible Buckle: These are tongue or pin buckles that can turn/spin and are used with reversible belts (belts that are brown on one side and black on the other).
Plate Buckles: Metal plates accompanied by logos, graphics, flags, etc. These buckles are exclusively for casual wear and require belts that are buckle changeable. Plate buckles cannot be worn with stitched closure belts.
Buying a Leather Belt
Let's put it all together. Firstly, figure out your belt size (you can refer to our leather belt size chart if needed). Next, determine whether you want a belt for formal attire or casual wear. Remember, formal belts should be on the thinner side and generally in black, brown, or neutral colors and should match with your shoes. Casual belts can vary in both width and color and should be chosen based on the look you're going for. Lastly, select the buckle type you want,tongue, pin, reversible, or plate, which will again depend on the look you're going for.