Picking the right leather belt can be difficult, especially if you are not sure what to look for and you really want to get an awesome belt. With so many different styles and leather goods brands available, finding a quality belt that will last is tough. In this article, we break down all of the factors that you should consider when choosing your next belt.
How do you pick a good leather belt?These are the key factors to consider when purchasing a quality men's leather belt:
- the belt and belt buckle should match your personal style
- the type of belt you wear most often
- the craftsmanship and quality of leather the belt is made of
- the leather color
- your belt size and whether you need a custom size
- your budget for an affordable belt
What are the different types of belts?
Leather belts can be broadly split into two categories - dress belts and casual belts. They come in all different colors and styles to match your personal preference.
Men's dress belts are made for formal dress occasions or to be worn to the office. They are traditionally 1.25" to fit through the narrow belt loops of dress pants. Traditionally, a dress belt should match the color of your shoes and compliment your outfit. For example, if you're wearing a black dress shoe and blue dress pants, then the belt should be a shade of black to match your clothing.
Casual belts are made to be worn with jeans, t-shirts, or whatever you would like. They are typically 1.5" wide and can fit through jeans or casual pants. There are fewer style rules around wearing a casual belt. They’re not as formal as dress belts, but they can be worn for more dressy occasions if paired correctly.
Types of Specialty Leather Belts
There are also a few styles of specialty leather belts.
Kilt Belts - Kilt belts are a special type of leather belts designed to be worn at the natural waistline with a kilt. They are typically custom-made to fit and are 1.75" - 4" wide. Kilt belts should always be tried with the kilt on before purchase or custom fit based on exact measurements.
Waist belts - Similar to a kilt belt, a waist belt is meant to be worn at the natural waistline. They vary greatly in width, from a very narrow .5" wide all the way up to 4" wide, and are usually worn tightly to cinch and accentuate the body. Waist belts are great accessories for dresses or sweaters.
What is the most durable leather for belts?
A good leather belt is made from high-quality materials, but remember that not all leather is created equal. The most common type of leather to use for belts is cowhide, which can be split into two general categories - full-grain leather and corrected grain leather.
Full-grain leather is the best quality and most durable and is the best leather for belts. The material maintains its natural character and develops a beautiful leather patina as it ages.
Corrected grain leathers also make good quality belts, but the natural leather grain has been sanded down to give products made with it a more uniform, even pattern.
How can you tell the quality of a leather belt?
Not every mens belt is created equal, and if your new leather belt is made with poor quality material, like bonded or genuine leather belts are, it is going to break easily or just feel like crap on your waist. If the company does not offer any information about the type of leather they use in their products then don't waste your money on them. Whatever you do, don't bother with genuine leather belts.
This reversible belt is less than a year old and you can see how genuine leather belts age terribly. This type of product isn't worth your money.
Broadly speaking, you can quickly assess a leather belt's quality based on its price. High-quality vegetable tanned full-grain leather belts will usually cost in the range of $80-120, or higher depending on the craftsmanship and type of belt buckle. Belts under $50 are most likely made with inferior leather products, and we wouldn't touch a belt under $30 because it's most likely made with leather by-products and glue.
You can also tell how good a leather belt is by touch. The weight and thickness of the belt is a good indicator of quality. Some belts are made from thinner, less expensive leather than others. The heavier the belt, the more cowhide was used in its construction and the better quality it will be. The best men's leather belts are thick and sturdy, but still comfortable to wear all day.
What color belt should I buy?
The most common colors leather belts are available in are black and brown. Grey belts are less common but still very versatile.
Black is the most common color leather belts are made in. They are a great belt for everyday use with lighter or monotone shades of clothing. Their sophisticated style works well for both formal and casual wear. This is the one color belt everyone should own.
Brown belts are usually worn with neutral or earth tones and are great for people with a more rugged style. They are the second most common belt color and are the perfect belt for casual outfits or jeans.
Grey belts are a very versatile option that can be easily dressed up or down. A smooth grey leather belt can be worn with dressier clothes to amplify their elegance. A grey distressed leather belt has a more edgy character and makes a unique accessory to finish off a casual outfit.
What size belt should I buy?
The biggest mistake people make when buying a new belt is assuming belt sizes are the same across different brands or designers. Don't buy a new belt without measuring your waist first. Put on the outfit you want to wear your belt with and use a cloth tape measure to get an accurate measurement. For the best experience and most comfortable fit, buy a belt you fit in the middle of with enough space in between holes so you can adjust your belt size easily as needed.
Always consult the brand's size guide and don't be afraid to ask if they make custom sizes or extended sizes. A good leather craftsperson can just as easily make a custom belt size as a standard size belt. Don't settle for anything less than a perfect fit.
Advantages of an Obscure Belt
An Obscure Belt is a completely new type of belt buckle. Our unique designs use a metal sizing piece that screws into the leather belt holes. Each buckle is a little wearable lock that uses a hook, steel, and a magnet to open and close with the push of a button. It's easy to adjust your size - just unscrew the stud and move it to a different belt hole.
We've got something for everyone, whether you need a new belt or just want some inspiration on what kind of buckle would look good with your favorite pair of jeans. We make tons of different styles of cool leather belts for men and women that are a perfect gift for any occasion. And if you don't see anything you like right now, sign up for our mailing list and we'll send you an email when we design something new!
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We hope the tips and tricks we've provided in this article help you find and buy the best belts with confidence. If you're convinced we know what we're talking about when it comes to belts, head over to our online shop to see the wide variety of cool leather belts we make. If not, let us know how we could make these posts better in the future by emailing us or leaving a comment below!