Dressing up is easy. Some may scoff at this statement especially some men but if you look at the details properly then you will know that it is true. Most men only focus upon the major components of the outfit like jackets leaving out other details. The key to get a perfect outfit is to give some attention to minor things like ties and belts. You may think that it is a waste of time to focus on such small details but a mistake on these small styles may ruin your whole outfit in a second.
So knowing about the basic rules involved in this will not take a long time and will surely aid you at the right time. Mens belts are accessories that are worn for both functional and stylish purposes. This small accessory can create a large impression and if chosen carelessly can become a distraction that sabotages the whole look. Knowing about the different types of mens belts available and how to buy a quality one can refine your knowledge on selecting the right one.
A mens belt basically is a cinching system that can be worn around the waist to hold up the person's pants. The holding mechanism works with the help of buckle and a strap. Many belts also have keeper loop or usually an end tip that is made of metal, leather or cloth belts that save the edge for excessive damage. The keeper loop is provided to stop the free end from flapping when the belt is buckled. Chape is the part of the buckle that joins with the strap.
Mens belts as said before was introduced for a functional purpose. Belts as many other mens garments have a long history. It has an interesting history and it is fascinating to know how the things change with the need. You may not know that people in the Bronze Age also wore belts. There are proofs that these first mens belt have been used throughout the ancient world especially in Europe and many parts of Asia. Only some were made of leather while others are mostly a cord or string tied around the waist to safely secure the trousers from slipping off. They also were used for other purposes like to clip on the hanging pouches. With time the style of belts also started accepting changes. Men started using cloth cords or strips of fabric called girdle that offered compression and support.
This girdle was a unisex accessory which the men used to keep their tunics in place and to hold weapons while the women used it as a fashion accessory. After some time the girdle gained popularity among Christians where it was believed to be a symbol of protection and chastity. Weirdly some priests even hung scriptures off their girdles.
In medieval times the usage of the girdles continued to be the same and additionally they saw their rise in military. Some armies adopted different colored girdles to differentiate between their soldiers and the enemies. Some times they were used to denote the ranks of the officers. This style soon spread among civilians which made it become a status symbol. People wearing belts were considered to be in higher positions and some classes of people were even forbidden from wearing it. By 1800s suspenders were invented and became popular in no time thus phasing out the usage of belts. The suspenders were preferred over belts since the high cut waists trousers were the trend of that time and wearing belts with them was very uncomfortable.
By 1900s usage of mens belt became more prevalent among women since pants entered their style. This also brought back belts among men thus it making a comeback. The belts also became slimmer in design. The buckles were very small and sometimes they were not even provided and the belts were sealed by knots and glues. The belt loops were introduced until which the belts were worn just over the waistband. By 1960s the belts were worn around the hips rather than the waist. Metal usage on mens belts also increased by the time.
After all the experimentation leather won the fight and became a classic material for mens belts. For a few decades though there were many options available the build of the belt have remained the same without any major changes. Though they started out for practical purposes belts have grown into being one of the most important decorative accessory in recent times.
As for when to wear a mens belt the rule is simple. If the pants you choose to wear have belt loops then you should definitely wear one. Not wearing one and leaving the loops empty is not a good look especially for formal wears. You can also swap the belt with suspenders and never I repeat never wear both at the same time.
As for mens belts like every other mens garments there are the formal and casual styles. Formal belts have a frame type buckle through which the strap goes. The prong provided in the buckle goes through the holes in the strap which holds the belt tight. The buckles provided in a formal belt is usually made of shiny materials and are smaller and flatter than those in casual belts. These mens belts should be one to one and half inches wide. Thinner the belt more formal it is. As for the material which the mens belts are made from leather is the only suitable one. For people who are against using leather imitation leathers are available in the market. Cowhide is the most common leather used for belts and it also has varieties. Full grain leather is a sturdy material while the calfskin is a soft variety. Ostrich belts have a bold look and the price is a little high. Crocodile and alligator mens belts are considered more upscale and mostly used for casual wears. Faux leathers are made from polyurethane thus making them durable and low maintenance. As for the colors a formal mens belts should be of a subtle color like black and brown so that it doesn't stand out. The surface should also be smooth and subtle simpler patterns are the best.
While wearing the mens belt with your outfit make sure that you match the colors of the leather and the metals. The color of the leather should be the same as your color of the shoes. Not only the color it should also match the shine of your shoes and other leather accessories. The color of the buckles should match other metal accessories. For example if you are wearing a silver watch make sure that the buckle of your belt is also similar. Never cross match gold and silver.
Casual mens belts are mostly similar to the formal ones but are available in various types and styles that can showcase your individuality. Casual mens belts also have frame style buckles but have a wider profile. Plate style buckles are available which have snap belts and are detachable. The plates are usually decorated. Box type is hollow and uses post that presses the strap against the inside of the box thus eliminating the need for strap holes. Snap styles have male and female ends that snap together like a seat belt. Strap styles are the height of casual styles and can never be paired with any formal wears.
As for the materials broader, tougher and stiffer full grain leathers are used than which used for formal ones. Another simple alternative is braided leather. They have a little texture that does not overpower the outfit and are also cheap. These mens belts should not be worn with suits and works well with sports coat. They are available in multiple colors which makes them an ideal fit to be paired with summer styles like khaki shorts and others. Tooled leather mens belts are the best for casuals like a pair of jeans with a button down shirt. Suede mens belts are less durable but have full grain leather backing for strength. While these are the most prevalent materials other materials like leather backed ribbon, canvas, vinyl, webbing and rope are also available. As for the colors brown is a popular style among leather casuals but non-leather casual belts come in a wide variety of colors and patterns.
When it comes to casual mens belts you can either wear it as a centerpiece or an accent piece. While the worn as a centerpiece it demands attention and contrasts with the rest of your outfit. As for being an accent piece it is subtle and coordinates with the outfit complementing it on the whole. Formal mens belts worn with suits should be accent pieces the suit being the main focus. They should be worn such that it matches with the rest of your outfit and the color should be chosen carefully. The casual mens belts can be worn both as an accent piece or as a centerpiece. If wearing as accent piece match the color of the belt with the color of your outfit so that it blends with it. But if aiming for it to be a centerpiece select a color that contrasts the color of your outfit adding a punch of color to the whole look. Make sure that the other parts of the outfit does not have overwhelming colors and patterns since too much of different colors can turn the outfit gaudy.
If you thinking about purchasing one try finding a quality product especially if you looking for a formal mens belt. The casual mens belts can be replaced time to time with the change in taste but formal mens belts stay for a long time. A good quality belt even lasts for decades and therefore worth investing upon. Calfskin is one of the common material used for mens belts and a good one will be soft and supple. You can flex the belt to find if the material has turned brittle. You can also score the back of the material lightly with your nail and if the material develops a faint line know that it is still soft and fresh. Construction is another important factor to note in mens belts. Small tight stitched mens belts with no loose ends are the right kind to buy. Mens belts also can be custom cut according to your preference.
To make your job easy we have some suggestions of the basic mens belts a man would need which can mostly be used for any occasions. A black dress belt is a must-have in your wardrobe. These work well with any type of formal suits that requires something black and dressy. Getting it in unique styles like lizard and alligator will give you a rich textured look.
Next versatile pick is the brown dress belt. This can be used widely even more than the black one. They can be paired with both suits and casuals and looks best when worn with brown shoes.
Having two formal mens belts is more than enough and a rugged denim belt can add variety to your collection. This belt is a little wider than the formal ones and looks best when worn with casual wears like jeans and other weekend outfits.
A smooth suede mens belt is the perfect blend of formal and casual style. While the leather is formal the suede is casual. Choose a silver buckle with a D ring that gives it a cohesive design making it perfect for a dressy and casual blend.
Lastly a slim vintage belt can be a good pick since mens belts look perfect with vintage garments. Just make sure that is of authentic leather.
As for the right size the mens belt size should ideally be one to two inches longer than the size of your pants' waist. You can also measure the length from your old belt but the best way is to try it on. If you are thinking of buying and then gouging a hole into a wrong size belt just because you like it think again. This hole will look obvious and can result in the damage to the material. The brand names aren't important when it comes to mens belts and if you are thinking of spending some money try focusing on the quality instead.
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