It’s said that you can learn a lot about a man from his shoes. We, however, disagree. Over at Gentleman’s Journal, we believe that the shoes you’re lacing up, slipping on or strapping your feet into is of little consequence.
So what accessory does hold the answers, we hear you cry? Why, the humble, practical belt of course.
That’s right; that oft-hidden, daily mainstay of everyone’s wardrobe could be the key to understanding just who they are. Crafted from leather, canvas or even woven cotton and with further options ranging from width to buckle, the combinations are many. And the choices people make can say a lot about their characters.
A plain black leather belt doesn’t necessarily mean you’re boring
Although it kind of does. After all, the only time you really have to wear a black belt these days is at a funeral. And, if you’re lucky, you don’t have to go to a funeral every day. Even black tie doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stick to the colour black any more. So strap on a black belt if you must, but people might question your creativity if you do.
Of course, you may argue that your choice reinforces your character as salt-of-the-earth, reliable and stoic. There is no more classic accessory, after all. But surely there’s some wiggle room — even if you’re on the very last belt hole. If so, why not inject some energy into your black belt with a chic buckle or reversible option?
Ralph Lauren Reversible Leather Belt
Dunhill Full-Grain Leather Belt
Montblanc Black Leather Belt
A brown suede belt is a maverick’s belt
Now we’re talking. Those black leather belts above may be smart, sleek and unlikely to offend — but brown suede is a textured, trendy way to show some real edge. This is a belt that buckles up enough formality to stay on the sophisticated side, but it doesn’t play by the rules. Simply put, this is the belt of a maverick.
It’s easy to imagine Steve McQueen in Bullitt pulling on a brown suede belt to match his shoulder holster, or Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry threading one through his antiheroic belt loops. But neither is it a stretch to picture a geography teacher reaching for a brown suede belt, something to compliment his tweed three-piece and bow tie. It’s an napped leather enigma.
Loro Piana Brown Suede Belt
Ralph Lauren Brushed-Suede Belt
Brunello Cucinelli Suede Belt
A woven belt can make you look a little try-hard
The woven belt is a tricky one. True, with the right outfit — loose-fitting chinos, linen shirt, Clubmasters — it can look great. But it’s an accessory that carries with it a weight of judgement. For the natural habitat of the woven belt — that of Monaco-moored megayachts and the modern malls of Dubai — are boltholes of the rich and wealthy.
So pull on a woven belt at your own peril. It’ll pair perfectly with your lightweight threads this summer, after all. But be mindful of how openly you flaunt it — because, like tassel loafers with no socks, it can look a little try-hard if overused.
Tod’s Tan Woven Belt
Ermenegildo Zegna Tessuta Leather Belt
Brunello Cucinelli Woven Leather Belt
A Western style-buckled belt sends out very, very mixed signals
There’s a time and a place for a Western belt. The place? Any US State to the left of Colorado. The time? About 150 years ago. It sounds harsh, but the reality is that the natural habitat of the Western-style belt has long past. No longer can you get away with one of these brash, bold, big-buckled belts in any scenario.
Today, and on the British side of the Atlantic, you have to be very selective as to when you go all ‘yee-haw’. That means only even glance in your Western belt’s big-buckled direction if you’re already wearing blue jeans and a flannel shirt. With anything else, it’s a very loud no. You may like large, burnished gold eagles — but the majority of people will cry fancy dress.
Kingsman Leather Western Belt
Ralph Lauren Hawkins Leather Belt
Prada Logo Plaque Belt
A canvas belt tells people that you’re practical — but still care about style
So, from the Western-style belt, a bold, brash accessory you have to be very selective about, we switch to a belt that is probably one of the most versatile styles in the world. Simple, sleek and with endless colours and designs, the canvas belt is your one-stop shop for trouser-securing, fashion-following style.
With different patterns, widths and buckle variations, this is a belt you can truly tailor to your outfit, showing that you have an eye for accessorising, and care how you present yourself. They tend to cost less than leather also, which means you can bulk up your belt collection to match your wide-spanning styles. Just wait until people clock your canvas — you’ll go up several notches in their estimations.
Moncler Leather-Trimmed Striped Belt
Mulberry Boho Buckle Belt
Berluti Leather-Trimmed Belt
Got your belt game all buckled up? Next, try out that most daring of suiting styles: Double-breasted…