Belt Buying Guide – All You Need to Know

Belt Buying Guide – All You Need to Know

A belt is defined as a flexible band or strap, typically made of leather or heavy cloth and worn around the waist. Since 2000-1800B.C,  the waist belt or the waist band has remained an essential part of any ensemble and held an important place in the wardrobes of men and women.

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There are depictions and documentation of royalty and the general public wearing waist bands in the past. Actually, there is a mention of belts in the in the New Testament! At first, these belts were used only to hold the pants in place. With the passage of time, this functionality has gradually given way to fashion. Today, the belt has a place of prominence in every wardrobe.

The purpose of this guide is to shed light on the lesser known facts about the belt, and discuss about the various types and styles of belts available in the market today. This narrative will help the consumer to be aware of the trends going around in the world of belts before he chooses the belt that would go around his waist.

Belts for Men

The main objective of a belt is to secure the trousers in place. In recent times, however, belts are not only seen as functional pieces, but also perceived as stylish accessories that make a fashion statement. Wearing a belt perfectly is the litmus test to fashionable clothing. The choice of belt can convey a lot about your style quotient.

Length of the Belt

The general rule of thumb is to have a few inches of leather to the left of the buckle once it is fastened. It should be just enough to tuck into the belt loop of your trouser or the loop on the belt itself. It is acceptable to pass off with a belt that is a little shorter, than to wrap a long tail of leather around your hip for a second time! Casual belts may allow better flexibility, but a belt with a long tail can be awkward.

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Belts are usually measured with pant sizes. Buying a belt of the correct size is the most crucial part of the purchase. A belt that is a bit too long or a little too short can affect its function, fit, the look, and longevity as well. Here are a few tips to help you choose the best belt.

Sizing the Belt

Follow these steps to determine the exact size of belt you need.

  1. Wear a perfectly fitting trouser with belt loops in it.
  2. Place a measuring tape around the waist through the belt loops, encircling the waist.
  3. Note the measurement where the tape meets and round up to the nearest inch.
  4. Consult the data provided below and buy the recommended size of belt.

Waist Size                               Belt Size

38-39                                      40

36-37                                      38

34-35                                      36

32-33                                      34

30-31                                      32

28-29                                      30

While sizing a belt, it is important to note the width of the belt loops through which the belt will need to pass. Formal pants can usually need a belt with a width less than 1.5 inches, but casual pants can accommodate belts that are wider. Knowing this information in advance will help us to purchase the exact fit.

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Belt Colors

An important part of choosing and buying the best belt is to plan the color coordination. The general rule is to match the shoes and belt. Leather matches leather. This rule holds good for formal and casual wear. Though there are belts of all colors, there are four essential belts that will easily complement any outfit.

  • Black Belt – This belt will match with black shoes. Leather is generally preferred because of durability and stylish look.
  • Brown Belt – This belt would match with brown shoes. Leather is the popular choice of material.
  • Casual Belt (any color) – This belt will match with sneakers or tennis shoes. The material of the belt could be synthetic or cloth.
  • Reversible Belts – This is an economical choice of belt. This type of belt is made of leather or faux leather material and has two colors in it, brown and black, that are reversible.

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Styles of Belt Buckles

Buckles may be called the defining parts of a belt. They help make a style statement. Dress belts are typically fitted with very small, flat buckles, understandably so, because dress belts themselves are usually narrow. Uniforms  and other formal attire call for such buckled belts. Most often, buckles for dress belts are in tones of gold or silver colored finish. The unwritten rule is that any male-jewelry (like cuff links) and the color of the buckle must be of  the same color family.

buckles

Informal buckles are characterized by their large size. It is common to find large rounded buckles on belts for casual wear. Try to be consistent with the theme of your outfit when you choose the buckle. Wear large metal buckles with Western motifs with a western-style outfit rather than with your tight urban wear. Casual wear offers many opportunities for mixing and matching.

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Note that animal skin belts are exotic and exorbitantly priced, but they are still  considered casual wear. A belt with an eye -catching reptilian pattern can be too ostentatious for a solemn business meeting.

Designer Belts

There are a wide range of designer belts available for men. Since they tend to be highly priced, it is important to decide on the budget first. Another important factor is to ensure that the designer ware is genuine. It is always advisable to buy from authorized dealers.

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There are too many designer labels to enumerate but the some prominent ones are, Alfred Dunner, BVLGARI, Chanel, Burberry, CHARIOL, Armani, Dior, and Davidoff.

Tips for buying and wearing belts for Men

  • Always match your belt with the shoes. Leather belts go with leather shoes of the same color. Glossy belts should be paired with highly polished shoes. Matte shoes complement matte belts.
  • Metal buckle should match your watch.
  • Insert the belt through the left loops first, so when you are done, the spare end will also be to your left.
  • Belts should always be hung vertically and away from sunlight, so as not to dry out the leather.
  • Don’t get into the habit of leaving the belt on the pant. Keeping them so will curl the leather.
  • Always buy a belt that is two sizes bigger than the size of your waist.
  • Since leather is still the most commonly used material for belts, it is important to check the quality of leather.
  • A good leather belt will have a soft, supple feel to it. Flex the belt to make sure it hasn’t become brittle or started to crack.
  • Another good test of leather is to very lightly score the back of leather with your finger nail. If a fine line appears, the leather is still soft and good. Old, hard leather will resist your nail.
  • Construction is another important factor to look for. It is a surefire indicator of quality. The stitching should be small and tight, with no loose ends.
  • Notice the type of buckle. Some buckles are stitched in place and are the only ones that can be worn with the belt. Few others are attached with a snap on the back of the belt. Such buckles are removable. If you are investing in an expensive leather or animal-skin belt, buying a detachable buckle may offer you more flexibility, choice, and value for money.

Women’s Belts

Belts for specific Body Types

Women should be aware of their own body type and the types of belts that would suit them. Some research in advance will help buyers  to choose a belt that would accentuate their assets.

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Women with a long torso can wear any kind of belt comfortably. Those with short torso should choose belts that are skinny. Women with a thicker waist can try elastic belts instead of leather belts. They must wisely avoid wearing bright colored belts that will draw unnecessary attention to their waistline.

Belt Size

Most of the belts that are available in the market today are labeled as XS, S, M, L, and XL, indicating their sizes to be ‘Extra Small’, ‘Small’, ‘Medium’, ‘Large’,   or ‘Extra Large’. If you don’t know your exact size or if you are planning to purchase online, it would be prudent to have an idea of how the general measurements are made for labeling.

waist-position

Use a measuring tape to note your regular and hi waist measurements. Then use the chart below to find the size that would fit you perfectly.

waist-chart

Just make sure you buy a belt that is at least 2 inches larger than the actual size of your waist. Another idea is to have a couple of elastic belts in your collection.

Belt Styles

As with any other accessory, there are countless styles of belts available in the market. Once you have decided on the size of the belt and the occasion of wear, it becomes a lot easier to choose a good style.

Here are the styles that must feature in every woman’s wardrobe.

Suede Belt

Suede is the leather that comes from a thinner piece of hide. Suede is more a type of finish rather than a type of leather itself. Belts of suede can be plain or braided.

Leather Belt

Belts of leather are the oldest and original style of these accessories. They are usually made thin and in muted colors. They may have a variety of buckles fitted. For those who desist from using leather products due to concern for  environment, there are many options available in faux leather. Faux leather belts cost very much lesser than original leather belts.

Elastic Belt

This belt is made of elastic or such stretchable material. It is worn at the waist and is a good option if you don’t know your belt size exactly. Many fashion belts of beads and crystals are of this type.

Braided Belt

This belt has a braided or a woven pattern. It is made with leather or suede. It can be worn at the waist or hips, depending on size.

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Jeans belt

Wide or narrow belts of leather or suede in black, brown, beige or tan can be paired with jeans. Belts of other materials in colors like white and navy blue can also give a stylish look.

Narrow belt

This belt is great with fitted dresses. Select the color and print depending on the dress you are to wear the belt with. Muted colors and animal prints complement solid colored dresses to perfection. Narrow belts with floral  prints can spice up your casual wear.

Chain Belts

Chain belts complement  both long and short dresses. They offer versatility with the allure of shiny metal chains that spell class. Some chain belts come with a leather base.

Metallic Belts

A metallic belt in a color that matches the jewelry you wear can steal the show! It could be a skinny gold belt that would match any evening wear, or a silver belt to go with your pair of jeans for a classic casual look. A vintage gold belt can lend a dramatic look to any dress.

Textured Belts

This is a new and welcome addition to any wardrobe. The material is a blend of leather and suede or it may be imprinted with exotic animal skin designs. The textured belt may come in a single color or in a medley of colors. These belts are usually wide and exude class when worn with dresses of solid colors.

Beaded Belts

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There are an assortment of beaded belts available in all shades of colors imaginable. These belts have colored beads, stones, and crystals. Some may be studded with imitation jewelry. They are often mounted on elastic straps.

Fringed Belts

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These fashionable belts are made from leather, exquisite bead work, or even crochet and have  typical fringes hanging loose and sashaying from the waist. Fringe belts are usually associated with belly dancing.

Tie Belt

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This belt is used to cinch looser clothing or to add interest to fitted dresses. Ladies with narrow waists should choose a narrow leather tie belt. Medium sized ladies could wear 3″ sash tie belt that can be worn lower than the waist or on the hips. Larger built ladies can opt for a 4″ tie belt. It is advisable to buy one in a basic color that will blend with most of your accessories, a metallic shade to complement your jewelry, and one in a vibrant color for special occasions.

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Ways to wear your Belt

Choosing the right color, style, and material of belt is quite a task by itself, and the way you wear your belt with confidence can justify all that time and effort! Mastering the art of flaunting a belt stylishly is acquired by  experience and by observing the latest trends. It does involve a lot of experimentation with different combinations of clothes and accessories. Here are few of the popular styles of wearing your belt.

Natural Waist

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This is probably the most preferred style of the day. The belt is worn at the waist, which should be the narrowest part of the body. Both skinny belts and wide belts will suit the purpose, but work best with wide belts. The belt is paired with loose-fitting dress . Sometimes, separates are connected with a belt at the center.

Empire Waist Belt

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In this Empire waist style. the belt is worn just below the bust. This belt is usually simple and skinny. It can be of any color or material. Sometimes this belt may need to be stitched in the desired clothing so as to match the outfit and to keep the belt in place.

Hip belt

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This is the traditional style of wearing belts. It is worn by looping the belt through the loops on the pants or by letting the belt hang loose and low around the hips. A skinny belt works well in creating this simple and sophisticated fashion. For a more accentuated and defined look, wider belts may also be used.

Designer Belts

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Almost all the leading brands of apparel have launched their own labels of belts. They come with their trademark logos and an impeccable finish. Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Guess, Burberry, Michael Kors, and Ralph Lauren are among the better known brands.

Tips for buying and wearing a belt

Belts are among the simplest ways to make a style statement. They make your presence felt with the barest financial investment. Follow these tips to buy a belt that suits your personality and preserve it.

  • Evaluate the shape of your torso and determine suitable ways to flaunt your belt. A wide belt creates an illusion of a slender waist.
  • Leather belts need particular care. Store them lengthwise in belt hangers. This will protect the leather from stressing and they will last longer.
  • Clean your leather belt with a leather cleaner to keep them supple.
  • Avoid extensive exposure to sunlight.
  • Wash nylon and cloth belts on the delicate cycle of the washing machine. Don’t let them spin in the machine’s spin cycle as it will damage the belt.

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