Belt Basics: A Guide On How to Wear Belts

A simple, long strip of leather with holes and a piece of metal attached to it, holds a lot of importance; it keeps our dignity up while we walk.

From observing many business-men, and other men on a mission, in downtown Toronto, it dawned upon me that the simple concept of wearing a belt, has not been so easily grasped.  Maybe they haven’t been taught, or maybe they never knew that they had to know, whatever the case, it’s not only one man that fails to understand the details of sporting a belt. Nothing to be embarrassed about, but it’s definitely something that has to be changed.

This article will make clear how to properly wear, and make an informed decision with all the many types of belts that there are on the market.

Belt Length

Whatever pants size you wear, go two or four sizes up for the belt. If you are a 32″, buy a 34″ or 36″. The actual length depends on the make of the belt. Some extra length is good, but if it’s too long, it will look silly. Have enough leather left over so you can slip it under the loop on your belt after buckling, and so it just passes your pants’ first belt loop. I buckle left to-right, but doing the reverse, is up to you.


belt length 2

Types of Belt Bands

The bands of belts come in a variety of colours, fabrics, leathers, and finishes. Here are the most common styles:

Leather: Works for pretty much any social occasion. The leather of belts can be anything from black to white. Leather belts are most widely available as solid strips of cowhide or alligator skin, but they can also be braided. The great thing about braided belts is that the buckle can latch onto anywhere along its length.




The finish of leather belts can  be patent(high shine) or matte(low shine). Classically, shiny ones are the standard for up-scale events.

Suede: Pretty simple, it’s suede, just like a pair of shoes.


Fabric: Save these for casual outings. fabric belts are usually of plant or synthetic origin; materials used can be cotton, nylon, and even hemp. These come in a variety of weaves, they can be braided or webbed, among many others.



The three main types of buckle are: the simple d-ring and peg; the double d-ring with no peg, more commonly found on fabric belts; and a mechanism in which the belt is fed through a rectangular buckle that clicks the notches on the underside of the belt-band into place.


A general rule is, the smaller and more understated a buckle is, the more formal the belt becomes as a whole. In contrast to that, a big, showy bull’s head buckle should only be worn when your off-duty…and going to a rodeo or square dancing. Yeehaw!

Belts & Matching

Probably the most confusing belt-related topic of all. Here are some things to consider.

In formal and business situations, in which your shirt will be tucked in, and your belt, exposed, the colour and finish of belt leather should match your leather shoes. Black with black, glossy with glossy. Medium brown with medium brown, matte with matte.

belt shoematch brown and brownbelts-for-men-secret-3-mathcing-material-comp-1024x576

As for the buckle, the colour and finish of the metal, should match your watch, tie-bar, and cufflinks. Silver with silver, shiny with shiny. Gold tooth with gold buckle… you get the idea. Follow the example pictured below.

watch and belt

Tip: when dress-shoe shopping, wear your belt, so you can instantly reference it in the store, to make sure you have a match.

In casual situations, people usually wear their shirts un-tucked, the choice of belt doesn’t matter much because no one’s going to see it. Wearing tucked shirts in a casual situation is doable but it could come off as try-hard, but for the risk-takers out there, either style the belt like you would on formal occasions, or make it deliberately contrast with your outfit.

Flashy belt buckles will be the centerpiece of your outfit, make the clothes around it highlight its awesome-ness. Keep the rest understated and let your belt buckle do the talking.


Thank you for reading Principles of Style. I hope you enjoy this post and found the blog useful. If you have any questions, feedback, or want to share some of your style and scent tips, tricks, and insights, please leave your input in the comments section below, or send me a PM.

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