Finding the correct size belt can be a difficult task when accounting for fit, comfort, and aesthetics. To make it even harder, you may gain or lose weight and change size over time. Does that mean you will have to buy a new belt each time you put on or lose a few pounds? If the weight change is not too drastic, we can apply a few simple adjustments.
Can leather belts shrink?
Let's answer the easy question first. Leather belts will not shrink over time and there is no way to shorten the belt except by cutting it. There is a common misconception that exposure to water will shrink the belt, though this is not the case. However, not properly drying a belt after long term exposure to water can cause discoloration, wrinkles, and creases.
Can leather belts stretch?
Over a lifetime of usage, leather belts can actually stretch about 5-7 %, though you will likely not have noticed this stretch. If your belt no longer fits, you can quicken the process and actively stretch the belt using a few different methods.
Add Another Hole
If you've lost some weight and don't want to cut your belt, the simplest solution is to add a hole(s). As long as you don't mind a little extra hang, this is a very effective solution. You can also add holes to the other end of the belt if you feel the belt is a little tight and there is some space available. Measure the distance between the existing holes and mark the locations where you want your new holes. Use a leather hole punch to make perfect shaped holes and be careful to not make the holes too big.
Alcohol and Professional Products
Using a professional product such as a leather stretching spray is probably the best option. These products are designed to stretch leather and minimize any adverse effects. To stretch your leather belt with this method, apply your spray directly on the front and back of the belt and make sure it is evenly distributed. Once this is done, hang your belt from a belt hanger and weigh it down on one end with something heavy to stretch it out. Leather stretching spray can be found at most shoe stores or supermarkets and are generally between $5-20.
Another method is to make your own spray by mixing 1 part alcohol to 3 parts water. Once this is done, follow the leather stretching spray instructions as stated above.
Water to Stretch Leather Belts
As a last resort, you can stretch your leather belt by first wetting it and then stretching it. Submerge your belt in warm water for 5 minutes and ensure that it is entirely saturated with water. Following this, wear the belt as tight as possible until it has dried. While this may not be the most comfortable method, it is effective in stretching the belt! Remember that wetting leather can cause some aesthetic problems so only do this as a last resort and not to dress belts or work belts.
Buying a New Belt
If you do not wish to cut your belt shorter or are unable to stretch it longer, then it may be time to buy a new belt. For more information about which belt to buy, check out our guide to buying a new leather belt . If you're unsure what your belt size is, check out our leather belt size chart.