We have a pretty reliable way to make sure you get a belt that fits the first time.
But buying and wearing a belt is way more complicated than picking the right size. You need to think about the strap width, the buckle material, the length at the end.
A belt fit is like a clean car. Nobody notices when it’s perfect. They notice the hot mess.
Don’t buckle a hot mess around your waist. Do the right thing. Wear an appropriate and well-fitting belt.
Formal Belts vs. Informal Belts
Men’s fashion bloggers often say a formal belt should be right around 1-½ inches wide. Likewise, they say casual belts should be 1-3⁄4 inches wide.
We disagree just a little at Duvall Leatherwork — like, only by a quarter-inch.
After a ton of testing, we found the perfect formal belt comes in at 1-¼ inches. We’re not being stingy. We just think it looks better. If you’re wearing a tailored suit, an inch and a quarter offer plenty of classy, substantial support.
Likewise, a casual belt should be about 1-½ inches wide. It’s wide enough to support jeans or work pants, and also khakis or slacks with a blazer. Duvall’s full grain leather belts are all 1-½ inches wide.
There’s one area we agree with fashion bloggers on. How wide is too wide? Anything more than 1-¾ inches is just too wide. That’s more tool-belt or weight-lifting-belt territory — special uses.
Generally speaking, belt sizes and pants waist sizes should match.
When you order a belt from Duvall Leatherwork, we simply ask for the size of your best-fitting pair of pants, and we take care of the rest. For most people, the pants size method works just fine, but if you wear your pants loose or extra tight and stretchy, it might be more complicated.
Don’t feel bad if you have questions or want to make extra sure you get it right. Call our shop. We’re all pros at fitting belts.
STOP! Your pants size does not equal the circumference of your waist, so don’t use a tape measure.
That leaves a couple other things to think about.
The belt tail This is the part that hangs out past the buckle.
For belts that are too long, it’s the part that flaps around somewhere out past your hip. For too-short belts, the tail pops out of your belt loops. Both look ridiculous.
Depending on your size, you want a belt that extends two to four inches beyond the first belt loop on your pants.
The belt buckle tongue If you’ve never heard of this part of the buckle, take a guess; you’re probably correct. Ideally, this part should have an equal number of holes on either side. We know the world’s not perfect, and waist sizes change over time. That’s why belts have more than one hole. Just try not to use the either end hole. That looks silly and signals you’ve got the wrong belt on.
Here’s a pretty good guide from a self-proclaimed celebrity fashion consultant.
Where Should My Belt Sit On My Waist?
This is really subjective. It’s more a question of where your pants should sit on your waist. Chances are, you’ve already got a routine for this and know what you like.
Pants are cut to be high-rise, mid-rise and low-rise. The cut determines whether the waistline covers your belly button, sits between your belly button and hips, or rests on your hip bones.
The cut you choose will determine your belt size.
STOP! If you like to experiment with different waist styles, you might need to change your belt.
Matching Color and Materials
At some point in your life, an older person probably advised you that your leathers and metals should match in color and texture. That’s fine.
But by that standard, you’d need a brushed nickel watch to match a brushed nickel belt buckle and gray leather golf shoes to match a Titan Belt in full grain gray leather. But wait, does your watch need to be black to match your Titan Belt buckle? What if your only silver-colored watch is buffed stainless?
This is obviously an nearly impossible task for anyone who doesn’t have time and cash to burn on perfection. It also just feels restrictive.
For formal events, we recommend putting together just one getup where everything matches. Use it for, like, weddings of distant relatives.
Otherwise, give yourself some slack.
Dark colors with dark colors is generally a good rule; same with light colors. Subdued looks good with subdued. If you wear chunky jewelry or flashy belt buckles, differences in colors and textures will stand out more.
You could also experiment. Beige boots with a black belt might look great together in some cases. Colors and textures are subjective.
When choosing a belt, fit, length and width are most important.