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Buckle Up: Belt Rules 101

Buckle Up: Belt Rules 101

As the old saying goes, it’s all about the accessories. So how can you ensure you’re wearing the perfect belt—aka one of men’s most important adornments? Here, we offer eight tips that will help you look your most dapper:

Size matters, Part 1: An ill-fitting belt can ruin even the best intentions (and outfits). Generally, belt size should be two to three sizes bigger than your pants; for example, if you wear trousers with a 36” waist, opt for a 38” or 40” belt. To be on the safe side, try on belts before buying, and remember: Bigger isn’t always better. Err on the side of shortness, as there’s nothing more awkward that guy who had to wrap lots of leather around his waist because, well, his belt is just too darn big.

Size matters, Part 2: Now that you’ve been schooled on belt length, what about width? Casual belts are mostly 1¼ to 1½ inches wide; dress belts are usually 1¼ inches wide and never go beyond 1½.

Buckling up: Save big buckles (and especially ornate ones) for casual weekend outfits—dress belts should have small, flat buckles in either silver or gold finish.

Animal attraction: Animal-patterned belts should only be worn with casual wear, and the plainer the outfit, the better. After all, your snazzy snakeskin belt is a statement piece that’ll dominate whatever you’re wearing; other vibrant prints will only wreak havoc on your look.

It’s all in the accessories: Cufflinks and tie bars need to match your belt, so if your buckle is finished in silver, your accessories need to be too.

The wild card: Don’t forget about your watch. Yes, really: If the band is brown, your belt should follow suit.

The match game: It’s a rule as old as Methuselah (well, almost): Your belt must match your shoes. But that decree goes beyond color: If you’re wearing a glossy belt, you should only pair it with super-shiny shoes. Conversely, cloth belts can match well with cloth shoes.

Double the fun: Reversible belts give you twice the options, and no one will ever know you went for the twofer. We promise.

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