Wearing your pants at half mast might have been cool if you were a teenager in the early 2000s, but we’re past that now. If you want to look your best, it’s imperative to keep them secured at the optimal level. After all, nothing spoils a great outfit faster or less gracefully than having an inch of butt crack on display every time you sit down or bend over.
The obvious thing to do is to arm yourself with a good belt, but a black leather dress belt will never look good with a pair of stonewashed jeans, nor will a preppy woven belt work with a three-piece suit. For these reasons, it’s best to have a small selection of belts at your disposal – different styles for different occasions and dress codes.
Below we delve into the core belts a man needs in order to tackle any situation in style, including some hints on when to wear them and the best options out there right now.
The original and arguably the best, a leather belt is an absolute must for every man. Provided it’s black and slim, it’s the only belt appropriate to wear with formal tailoring but it can be worn casually in brown too.
Buy well and it’ll last you a lifetime if looked after correctly, which is why we’d suggest spending the maximum your budget will allow on this type of belt. Buy it cheap, buy it twice. Opting for quality will ensure you get the most wear out of it. Bonus points if you go reversible and pick one that’s brown and black on either side for maximum versatility.
An Ivy League-style favourite, the woven belt is a preppy option that can add a bit of character to your smart casual looks. It can be either leather or cotton, with the latter often coming in collegiate colours.
These belts are comfortable as the woven construction allows for a degree of stretch. This makes them a great everyday option that can pair with anything from shorts and a polo shirt to soft tailoring.
It may not be as dressy as a leather belt, but suede is still relatively smart and provides a great way to add a bit of texture to your outfits. It’s perfect for smart casual settings and looks great in deep, rich colours as it takes dye so well.
It’s not necessarily the sort of thing you’d wear with formal tailoring, but for occasions like evenings out and date nights, it offers a nice balance between smart and relaxed.
Webbed belts were all the rage in the 2000s and thanks to the grimly predictable nature of the 20-year trend cycle, they’re back. That said, we don’t have a problem with it. After all, these belts are simple, practical and look relatively smart too.
Popular with skaters back in the day, they consist of a length of nylon or cotton webbing with a rectangular metal box at one end containing a pin. When the webbing is passed through the box, the pin can be slid across to secure the belt in place. Alternatively, some have an open-and-close buckle design, which also takes the appearance of a metal box.
It’s a great casual option and works well as an everyday belt.
The terms ‘canvas’ and ‘webbed’ are often used interchangeably where belts are concerned, but they’re not necessarily the same thing. A webbed belt is defined by its box buckle, and while the webbed fabric can be made from cotton canvas, this isn’t always the case.
A canvas belt, on the other hand, is any belt made from canvas, including those with different types of buckles. They work great for casual settings and pair well with things like chinos, jeans and shorts.
Brown and black are the go-to hues where belts are concerned, but that doesn’t mean you have to be limited to them. A belt can be an excellent vehicle for adding some colour to an outfit in a nice, subtle manner, so it’s a good idea to think outside the box and have one or two in more unconventional options in your collection.
Colours like burgundy, dark green, navy and beige are all great for bringing looks to life without going OTT. Stick to muted hues, avoid anything overly bright and you can’t go far wrong.