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How to Buy the Right Belt and Why it Matters

There's a lot more to buying the right belt than one might think. It is vital to consider not only the type of leather and of course colour, but also the important issue of belt width. Although a belt clearly serves a functional purpose, if you care about your style, whether that be casual or formal, a cheap and ill-fitting belt is not going to do your outfit any justice. In a recent survey, women said that miss-matched socks and ugly belts were two of the biggest turn-offs in the style stakes. To get to the bottom of this we sat down with Justin Rhodes, Creative Director, Elliot Rhodes - a brand which has three stand-alone London stores and a store in Japan. For over 13 years the brand has built its reputation as the only specialist beltmaker and offers its clients a multitude of potential belt combinations from its vast range of custom-fitted interchangeable belt straps and buckles. Here he offers a few pointers on how to properly buy a belt and discusses the pros and cons of the different widths as gents are often surprised at how important it actually is to change belts for different occasions and outfits.

30mm Width  

The 30mm width belt has two purposes - first and foremost it falls into the category of formal. This is the right choice when you want something smart but understated and it is mainly suited to those with a slighter build as on a 34 inch waist of above, it can unnecessarily accentuate a broader waist. Most of the men's belts 30mm width are simple in style with a focus on elegant box calf, lightly textured or napa leather with the occasional addition of some subtle detail such as brogueing or perhaps a hand burnished finish. Over the last couple of seasons, the 30mm belt has become the right choice for skinny cut jeans and tapered trousers and can be a good colour vehicle. As waistbands move upwards again we will see this width taking greater prominence, particularly for tailoring.

35mm Width  

The 35mm width is the default width to turn to for men's classic or casualwear. It is stylish without being overbearing and, by default, the buckle will be just slightly larger than the belt loops so will attract just enough attention. It is a width that can easily cross the boundary between formal and casual. The width is substantial enough to not look out of place on denim, heavier fabrics, or chino style trousers, so your belt can cross nicely from work to play. In this width, you can go with classic leathers or start experimenting with greater texture and more accentuated style details such as hand stitching, perforation and two tone brush off leathers. 

40mm Width  

The 40mm width is one that many people are just not aware of as it is rarely offered by most brands. The reality is that this is the perfect width for wearing with your jeans and with nearly all casual trousers. When worn with denim not only does it nicely fill the deep belt loops but most importantly the width both looks and feels in keeping with the style and weight of the fabric. The same applies for almost all casual trousers as nowadays these also tend to have fairly deep loops. Above all we just like the way a 40mm width belt feels around the waist - it is substantial without being chunky, really showing off the texture of the leather and any specific style detailing and gives you scope to wear either a classic or more flamboyant buckle design. Obviously, the type of leather in this width will define how smart or casual the belt is - a chunky vegetable tanned leather is inherently for more informal wear whereas perhaps a finer grain leather would be more suitable for smarter occasions.

"Personally, and subject to my comments above I use the 40mm width for almost all but the most formal of occasions - it is really versatile, a great canvas for all sorts of buckles and also importantly gives that really nice feeling of a belt that is properly holding up your trousers."

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