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12 Best Belts for Men Review to Help Keep It Up – Jan. 2020 with Buying Guide
Look in a woman’s closet. She may have hip belts, buckle belts, yoke belts, skinny knot belts, cinch belts, corset belts, sash belts, lace-up belts, braided belts, twist belts, obi belts and bow belts.
A man? He simply has belts. And he may only own one of them.
To be honest, many men think the coolest belts anyone could wear are the ones awarded by the WWE at WrestleMania.
That’s an over-simplification, of course. Few women own every style of fashion belt imaginable, and there are several styles of belts designed for men’s pants.
Even so, most men consider their belt to be a necessity rather than a fashion statement. All they worry about, when they need a new one, is finding the right size and color. (We’re not talking about the guys who take pride in their Western-style or Harley-Davidson buckles – that’s a subject for another day.)
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These Groom+Style reviews of the best belts for men, and the buying guide that follows, will take that all into consideration. We won’t just give you our suggestions for casual and fashion belts, but we’ll spend some time discussing how to find the belt which will fit best, which materials to choose, and some of the style and design options you may never have known about.
Time to hitch up those pants and get to work.
Best Belts for Men
We’ll start with an expensive option that’s worth its price. Allen-Edmonds is well-known for its high-quality men’s shoes and accessories, and while you’re more likely to find their Men’s Manistee belt at Nordstrom’s or another upscale store, it’s also now available on Amazon.
This is a casual belt, 1½ inches wide, that’s crafted from 100% full-grain, vegetable-tanned leather with a silver-toned, nickel-free buckle. The strap is feather-edged with cool brogue perforations and impeccable stitching, making this a belt which will make a fashion statement in a casual environment – while keeping your pants up, too. It’s available in 15 sizes for size 28-58 waists, and it comes in three colors: black, brown and walnut.
We do have one warning for those considering the Allen-Edmonds Manistee belt (or any other products from this manufacturer). This is a product that’s often counterfeited, so be sure you’re getting the genuine article; it should have a logo stamped on the inside of the strap.
The Allen-Edmonds Manistee is the perfect casual belt to wear with jeans – although it may cost more than the jeans. It’s top-quality all the way.
Facts and figures for the Allen-Edmonds Men’s Manistee:
2. Allen-Edmonds Men’s Basic Wide Dress Belt
We liked Allen-Edmonds’ casual belt so much, we went back for a second helping and discovered this terrific dress belt which sells for 10-20 bucks less. Be aware that its width is right on the border line of dress and casual at 1.38 inches, and it has a double keeper (the loop that the end of the buckle tucks into), so it might not work with some of your more tailored suits.
However, most guys will find that it’s nearly perfect for work or a special evening out.
This dress belt is even more supple than the Manistee, because it’s made from full-grain calfskin, the softest leather that can be used to make a belt. Its look is completed with a stylish, high-quality brushed-nickel buckle, with the brand name imprinted on the top, and the previously-mentioned double keeper. The manufacturing quality is as good as you would expect, and the Basic Wide Dress Belt comes in your choice of eight sizes (30-44 inch waists) and is available in black, brown and five other shades suitable for dress.
You may not be able to wear this dress belt for extremely formal occasions because of its width, but it’s ideal for most dressy outfits.
Details for the Allen-Edmonds Men’s Basic Wide Dress Belt:
3. Pazaro Men’s Top Grain Leather Belt
We’ll set our budgetary sights lower, for the Groom+Style pick as the best value in men’s casual belts.
We’re classifying the Pazaro as a casual belt because it’s 1½ inches wide, but it is also a great traditional-style belt for dress wear if your pants will accommodate it. The leather is 100% top grain, so it’s soft, flexible and beautiful.
The Pazaro belt nominally comes in eight different “colors,” but in reality it’s only offered in four: black, brown, tan and orange. The other options are actually in the same colors, but the style and color of the alloy buckle (which does contain nickel) is different for each selection. For example, there are three “black” versions of this belt (Black006, Black016 and Black017) with silver-colored, brushed and black buckles. Order carefully.
One other nice feature of the Pazaro belts: the manufacturer will replace broken buckles forever, as long as the belt hasn’t been washed with water. There’s one more feature that we’re not sure we’d call nice: the belt comes with a tool to punch an extra hole in the strap if needed. Our preference is to have a cobbler add holes, since they’re trained not to destroy the belt, but using the tool is certainly better than using a pocket knife.
Pazaro’s belt is a great double-threat, a high-quality casual belt that can be worn as a dress belt in many instances, and it comes at an incredibly low-price for top-grain leather.
More info for the Pazaro Men’s Top Grain Leather Belt:
4. The Savile Row Company Men’s Dress Leather Belt
Don’t let your eyes get too wide when you see this listing and visualize British tailors hand-crafting an exquisite dress belt. Yes, it’s a Savile Row belt at an extremely reasonable price. Yes, it’s made from top-grain leather (both the front and back of the strap). But no, it’s not hand-stitched by withered British men with spectacles – it’s assembled in New York from Indian leather. Even so, it’s a very good quality dress belt.
The Savile Row belt is 1¼ inches wide with a shiny chrome alloy buckle, and it’s available in black, tan and brown, as well as a reversible version which is black on one side and brown on the other with a buckle that can be twisted to work on either side. That makes this belt a cost-effective way to take care of the need for two different colors of dress belt. Sizes from 32-44 are sold in all colors.
It’s not easy to offer a top-grain leather dress belt for the price of a fast-food meal for four, but Savile Row manages to pull it off with this great belt.
Looking closer at The Savile Row Company Men’s Dress Leather Belt:
5. Mio Marino Men’s Leather Ratchet Dress Belt
Here’s the first entry in the G+S rankings that isn’t made from full-grain leather. It’s made from “genuine” leather, which is the manufacturer’s way of saying that it’s real leather from a cow’s hide, but not the best grade you can buy. A belt with this type of leather isn’t as smooth or supple and may not last as long, but it will generally be less expensive than one made from full-grain leather.
Why did the review team put the Mio Marino in the top five, then? It’s because this belt is good-looking, good-quality, priced right – and has the best ratchet buckle we’ve seen on a belt, which they call the Linxx buckle. You simply lift the top of the stylish buckle, slide the strap to the desired position and then close the buckle; the mechanism will lock into place automatically, the procedure won’t make a sound, and there are 38 different size adjustments you can make. It’s the ideal way to let your belt grow (or shrink) as you do.
Many ratchet belts aren’t attractive enough to be worn as a dress belt. The Mio Marino is. It’s the perfect size for a dress belt, 1 1/8 inches in width, and there are 41 different buckle design/color combinations (most of them black or a shade of brown) to choose from. You can find one to match any type of dress shoes and to look as sedate or stylish as you’d like. We’re not huge fans of ratchet belts, but it’s hard not to be a fan of the Mio Marino.
Even though the Mio Marino dress belt isn’t full-grain leather, its look and convenience makes it our go-to choice for best ratchet belt.
The story behind the story for the Mio Marino Men’s Leather Ratchet Dress Belt:
6. Prospero Comfort Men’s Casual Jean Belt
Many casual belts can be worn with jeans, but not all of them look like they belong. The Prospero Comfort is designed for jeans though, which is one reason the G+S review team likes it. The other reasons are its 100% top-grain leather strap, and its prominent heavyweight, stainless steel roller buckle which looks great when worn with a pair of jeans.
This belt is 1½ inches thick, just the right width for a casual belt, and it’s available in tan, dark brown or black so you can find the proper color to match your denim. Don’t get the impression that the Prospero Comfort can only be worn with jeans; it will go just as well with khakis, chinos or even corduroys. It only costs around 20 bucks, another great reason to check it out.
The men on the review team have found a new favorite belt to wear with jeans. It’s high-quality, durable and looks great in any casual setting.
The story behind the story for the Mio Marino Men’s Leather Ratchet Dress Belt:
7. Hide & Drink Two Row Stitch Handmade Leather Belt
If you read the title of this review carefully, you already know the most interesting feature of this casual belt: each one is handmade, so no two look exactly alike.
They’re all pretty much the same, though: 100% full-grain leather material, double rows of stitching top and bottom, and a large nickel-plated buckle with an aged finish. It’s a very nice looking belt.
You’d expect this Hide & Drink belt to be soft and supple, and it is, because of the quality leather used to make it. It will also last forever – at least in the view of the manufacturer, which offers a “101 year” warranty. The belt is 1½ inches wide, and only comes in a “bourbon brown” color.
The belts are made in a Guatemalan town by local artisans, and 5% of all profits go back to Guatemalan charities. That means you can buy a good belt and do good at the same time.
The double-stitching and the full-grain leather make this a distinctive and quality belt which may not last 101 years, but should last you a good long time.
Details for the Hide & Drink Two Row Stitch Handmade Leather Belt:
8. Calvin Klein Men’s Smooth Leather Reversible Belt
Most reversible belts aren’t made from 100% leather, since it’s hard for leather to stand up to being turned inside out repeatedly. (That’s what makes the Savile Row option reviewed earlier so unusual and such a good buy.)
Most reversibles, like this Calvin Klein belt, will have at least a little synthetic material added to the strap to make it flexible and durable. In this case, the belt is 80% cowhide and 20% synthetic leather; you can tell the difference when you feel it, but not when you’re wearing it.
Like the Savile Row, the Calvin Klein is narrow enough (1¼ inches, in this case) to work as a dress belt, whether you have the black or brown side exposed. There’s a traditional silver-tone engraved-logo buckle, and the price is reasonable for a belt that can do double-duty with either black or brown shoes.
Don’t expect this Calvin Klein reversible belt to last forever, since the leather isn’t the same quality as our top five choices. If you don’t wear dress belts often, though, it’s a good one to have in the closet for the occasions when you need it.
Specs for the Calvin Klein Men’s Smooth Leather Reversible Belt:
9. Belts.com Vintage-Style Distressed Leather Casual Belt
Here’s the review team’s budget choice, a good-looking casual belt that’s the least expensive option in our rankings. This “genuine leather” belt has a striking distressed leather look with stitched edging, along with a matching keeper and a large antiqued buckle (gold with the brown belt, silver with the black belt) which can be easily snapped off and replaced with a different style of buckle.
The Belts.com offering is 1½ inches wide, just the right width for casual wear, it’s available in black or brown, and in five sizes which will fit waist sizes between 30 and 46 inches.
The “budget” label fits this belt perfectly, since you can pick one up for the cost of three morning Ventis at Starbucks.
There’s not much to say about the Belts.com distressed casual belt, other than the facts that it’s cheap, it will hold up for quite a while, and it looks great. Oh, did we mention that it’s cheap?
Digging deeper on the Belts.com Vintage-Style Distressed Leather Casual Belt:
10. Ayli Men’s Alligator Skin Ratchet Belt
We now present the “variety” portion of our program. Our last three choices are all belts which will bring something different to your wardrobe; all are more suitable for casual wear than for a day at the office. And what better item to start with than an alligator belt?
In truth, the Ayli isn’t made from real alligator skin, which you’d immediately guess from their low prices. They’re constructed from “genuine leather” embossed with the telltale pattern of an alligator’s hide, offered in black, brown or coffee colorings. A similar belt is also available in black or brown with a snakeskin pattern.
The buckle is ratchet-style with 38 positions, and the strap is a little wider than 1¼ inches. Because of its narrow size, Ayli says this belt is great to wear with business attire. We’re not sure what businesses would be suitable for men wearing alligator or snakeskin belts, but we’ll take their word for it.
The Ayli alligator and snakeskin leather belts aren’t made from real alligators or snakes, but chances are that no one will be getting close enough to your very cool-looking belt to tell the difference.
Specs for the Ayli Men’s Alligator Skin Ratchet Belt:
11. Dockers Men’s Braided Belt
Braided belts don’t go with every type of pants, but they provide a terrific casual look when worn with khakis, or with a pair of casual pants, an open-necked shirt and a sports coat.
One of the most attractive we’ve found is from Dockers; it’s a lace-braided belt with integrated notches, plus a traditional gold or silver buckle (depending on the color of the strap).
This 1½ inch-wide casual belt isn’t made from top-quality material; it’s a blend of 75% bonded leather (meaning several pieces of lower-quality leather were joined together), 20% polyester and 5% “genuine” leather. Even so, you probably won’t be wearing it often so it should hold up for a season or two – and give you a sharp look when you wear it with the right outfit.
Braided belts aren’t meant to be worn on a daily basis. With that in mind, the Dockers belt will look great for the occasions when you put it on to make a fashion statement.
Going in depth on the Dockers Men’s Braided Belt:
12. Fjallraven Canvas Belt
To answer the two questions we’re sure you’re asking, “Fjallraven” is a Swedish outdoor goods company with outlets all over the world, and no, this canvas belt isn’t really canvas. It’s made from acrylic, which will wear better and last longer than actual canvas.
This is a lightweight, high-quality casual belt which can be worn with all sorts of casual looks if you have a sense of style that lets you mix and match outfits. Otherwise, it’s perfect for boating, camping or just hanging out in a pair of shorts. The aluminum slide buckle with an unobtrusive logo at the bottom makes this a one-size-fits-all belt, easily adjusted for comfort. The Fjallraven canvas belt comes in ten colors, from black and grey, to olive and red.
If you’ll be out on the trails or in a boat, or you just like experimenting with casual style, the Fjallraven canvas belt will last quite a while while giving your outfit a distinctive look.
Answering your questions about the Fjallraven Canvas Belt:
Best Belts for Men Buying Guide
Several of the guys on the G+S review team aren’t ashamed to admit the truth. When they need a belt, they go to a discount store. Then they look for a rack with cheap belts, grab the first one that fits them – and walk out of the store thankful to have that chore out of the way for a while.
We relate that tidbit just to reassure many of our male readers. If you think there’s not much to know about belts, you’re not alone.
You’re not totally wrong, either. It’s true that if a belt holds your pants up, it works just fine. That’s not the end of the story, though.
A belt can say as much about a man as his shoes, his shirt or his hair style. And if you’re not overly concerned about your appearance, or think that the look of your belt doesn’t matter to the people you hang out with, think about this: choosing your belt wisely means it will last much longer – allowing you to put off the ordeal of shopping for a new one for quite some time.
Now that we have your attention, let’s get into the nuts and bolts of belts.
Do I Always Have to Wear a Belt?
Yes, we’re starting at the beginning, but that’s always a good starting point.
Basically, the answer is yes. Any pants with belt loops should be worn with a belt; otherwise, you’ll look sloppy or – in a business setting – unprofessional. Wearing sneakers and jeans? You still should be wearing a belt.
Some guys figure they don’t need a belt if they always wear their shirts untucked, but that’s ignoring the functional importance of belts. Not only do they keep your pants from falling to the floor, but they keep them from slipping down so far that you end up tripping on your cuffs. They can also prevent “plumber’s butt” if you have to bend over.
When don’t you have to wear a belt? If you’re wearing sweatpants, or if you choose to wear suspenders, adding a belt is bad form. Otherwise, get used to it: you need a belt.
Types of Belts
There are two general categories of belts.
You may be wondering why it makes a difference if you wear a casual belt with a suit, or a dress belt with jeans. It’s because of the belts’ appearances. In general terms, dress belts are shiny and thin, while casual belts are thicker with a matte finish. A dull, rugged casual belt (or a white webbed one) won’t match the look of shiny dress shoes, and one with a larger or fancy buckle will overpower the formal look of a suit. On the other hand, a thin, shiny belt will look out of place with jeans or other casual pants.
There are additional style guidelines for each type of belt, which we’ll discuss as we move along. But since they’re determined by societal norms and not enforced by the belt police, use our guidelines more as suggestions rather than hard-and-fast rules.
Parts of a Belt
Before we get more specific about belt materials and colors, here’s a quick primer on the parts of a belt so we’re all straight on the terminology.
The two important parts of a belt are the buckle and the strap; the strap is what we normally think of as the “belt part.” The buckle is composed of the outside frame, a prong that fits into the holes on the strap, and the bar that keeps the prong from sticking into your stomach. Most belts also have a keeper loop, which is the loop where you tuck in the strap after fastening the belt. Some also have an end tip, which is the reinforced portion at the end of the strap.
That belt construction is known as a frame-style belt, and it’s by far the most common type of dress and casual belts. You’ll also see plate-style casual belts, on which the buckle can be detached from the strap; these belts are the ones that allow you to add and switch out various decorative cowboy or specialty buckles.
Less-common styles include ratchet-style belts, where the teeth of the ratchet system hold the strap tight and allow for incremental adjustments, and O-ring belts, where canvas or braided straps are threaded through the ring. Both of these designs are only seen on casual belts.
Now that we’re on the same page, let’s start choosing a belt.
You already know that leather the preferred material for a belt. What you may not know is that leather is the only acceptable material for a dress belt, unless you’re vegan and choose a high-quality faux-leather material.
You, like the G+S team members we’ve mentioned, may simply look for a label that says “leather” and figure that you’re done. Au contraire. There are many levels of leather quality, and belts (or other leather goods, from shoes to couches) that only are labeled “leather” or “genuine leather” are usually made from the worst part of a cow’s hide. Even “top grain leather” isn’t top quality; “full-grain” leather is what you’re looking for, because it’s manufactured from the very best portion of the hide and will look and wear the best. If you want the softest high-quality leather, look for “full-grain calfskin.”
Leather is also the most popular choice for casual belts, and once again you should choose full-grain leather – not for its look, but for the fact that it will wear better and last longer. Many more materials are suitable for casual looks, though. They include suede, which is actually another type of leather that’s made from the underside of the hide, so it’s less-durable but softer and attractive; suede belts should have a full-grain leather backing so they will hold up better. Other possibilities are braided leather (versatile, since the prong can be inserted anywhere in the strap), cotton and canvas. Exotic leathers like ostrich and crocodile are also best suited for casual belts, unless they’re dark in color with a subtle pattern.
When choosing a leather belt, check its quality and not just the label. A high-quality full-grain leather belt should show a slight mark when you lightly scratch it with a fingernail; that means the leather is soft and supple. The stitching is also important; you’re looking for tight, small stitches with no threads sticking out. And the buckle and keeper loop should be solidly sewn into place, with the prong nestling perfectly into its slot.
Belt buckles are almost always made from metal, with various finishes like brass, gold and silver. We’ll talk more about those in the next section.
Belt Colors and Widths
The style-conscious may tastefully (and occasionally) match a tan or navy belt with the right dress-casual outfit in the summer, but nearly all dress belts are either black or brown.
How do you choose which of those two colors to wear? Look at your shoes. The color of a dress belt should always match the color of your shoes and they should each have the same general level of shininess. For example, a dress belt with a subdued finish doesn’t go well with patent leather shoes.
The same rules generally apply to casual belts, although there’s more leeway since things can get tricky. Needless to say, if you’re wearing white sneakers or canvas shoes with jeans or lighter-colored khaki pants, you’re usually not going to wear a white belt (unless you’re trying out for a role in Caddyshack). In that case, match the belt with the rest of your outfit. Jeans can be more problematic, so here’s a rule of thumb: brown and neutral tones match best with denim jeans and white shoes.
Let’s talk about belt widths for a moment. A belt is considered thin if it’s 1¼ inches wide or less, and it’s considered wide if it measures at least 1½ inches in width. We’ve already discussed the fact that dress belts are thinner than casual ones, but the width of a casual belt can vary greatly. A general guideline is that you don’t want the belt to convey a “sloppy” look, so you’d want a wider casual belt for cargo pants, but you can get away with a narrower one with dark-colored jeans.
We’ve paid a lot of attention to the strap, but let’s talk about the color of the buckle. Use the same basic “color matching” rule that we’ve used for belts and shoes: the color of the buckle should match any other metal you’re wearing. So if you’re wearing a shiny silver watch you’d want to choose a belt with a shiny silver buckle, and if you’re wearing a gold chain or cufflinks (who wears cufflinks anymore, anyway?) your belt should have a gold buckle. There’s a lot more leeway for casual belts and outfits, since you often won’t be wearing any metal other than your belt buckle.
Sizing a Belt
The Wrong Way: Walk into a store, take off your belt, and try to fit the new belt into your pants with the tags still on.
The Right Way #1: Buy a belt that’s two inches longer than your waist size. If you wear size 42 pants, you want a size 44 belt.
The Right Way #2: Measure your current belt (if it’s comfortable) from the point on the strap where you buckle it to the far end of the strap, and that’s the correct size (in inches) for your new belt.
One other note – never poke a new hole in your belt with an awl or knife if you’ve put on a little weight. That will not only look bad, but it will destroy the integrity of the belt and it will end up breaking. Pay a few bucks and take the belt to a cobbler, who will do the job professionally.
Frequently Asked Questions About Belts for Men
Q: Is it worth spending the money to buy a belt from a well-known designer?
Q: How many belts do I need, anyway? This all sounds way too complicated.
Q: What about woven or fabric belts? Where would you ever wear those?
Q: Can I wear my cool belt buckle to work?
Now that you have that taken care of, why not consider upgrading that watch – you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to buy a quality watch. Our watch specialist talks you through the options: