Men’s trouser belts are wardrobe essentials. As a matter of style, they define a border between shirt and trousers and ideally will match the wearer’s shoes; as a practical matter, they also maintain the position of the trousers at the wearer’s waist.
Belts can be manufactured from a variety of materials, from webbing to expensive leathers, and the range of buckles is endless. Buckles can be discrete or flashy, cheaply made or expensively fashioned with precious metals. Dress belts, which are intended to be worn with dress or suit trousers, are generally around 3cm in width. Jeans usually have wider loops to accommodate casual belts, which are usually between 4 and 5cm wide.
Our preference is for conservative dress belts in brown or black, with a plain buckle. A belt may be worn with several different pairs of trousers and keeping it simple helps maintain an organised look. Casual belts can be whatever fits the wearer’s mood. Reversible belts, whether dress or casual, can do ‘double duty’ by presenting two colours or patterns that can best match a man’s outfit.
It is important to find a belt of the right length. Nobody wants a long ‘tail’ flapping across the front of their trousers and a belt that is too short is constricting at best and useless at worst. A belt measurement is not the same as a waist measurement; a belt needs to go over the trousers and anything tucked inside with an inch or two left over. As a rule of thumb, we recommend that buyers add a minimum of two inches to the trouser waist for the correct belt measurement. If you’re wearing trousers with, say, a 36-inch waist then a 38 to 40-inch belt should be a good fit. Ideally, though, it will be best to measure a belt that is already in use to determine the perfect length of a new belt.
Finally, a note on leather. Different quality leathers are used to make belts. Full grain leather is produced from the topmost level of an animal’s skin; it is the hardest wearing and most expensive. The next layer of the hide yields top grain leather; it is usually processed to remove imperfections and has a more uniform appearance than full grain. Top grain is good leather although it may show the effects of wear before full grain leather.
Best Men’s Belt
Milano Full Grain Leather Belt
This Milano belt is a straightforward, good-quality casual belt available in black, brown or light brown full-grain leather. The 4cm width works well with jeans and six different lengths are offered to accommodate waist measurements between 28 and 52 inches. There is a simple metal buckle with a chromed finish and engraved with the ‘Milano’ brand. Reviewers report that it wears well; a strong and affordable belt.
Reversible Belt from The Pure Blue
This is an inexpensive, reversible belt that will look good with suit trousers or chinos. It reverses with a twist of the buckle and provides the choice of a black or brown belt in a single piece. The width is 34mm and it is offered in six different lengths to fit waists between 32 and 48 inches. The belt is made from a durable leather and the rectangular buckle has a chromed finish. Unusually, the belt is delivered with a steel hole punch to enable the owner to add an extra hole if needed. We like the ‘reversibility’ that makes this a particularly versatile accessory and allows us to complement both brown and black shoes with a single belt.
Marino Ratchet Dress Belt
Marino offers a range of leather belts in different colours, and plain and embossed finishes, that use versions of their ‘Linxx’ buckle. This belt is 3cm in width and is delivered in XL length, ready to be cut to size by the owner. To tighten the belt, it is pulled through the ratchet-buckle, which is held in place on the belt’s ‘tracking system’. To release the belt, the buckle is simply lifted upwards. The ratchet system means that there are no holes along the belt and that the belt easily adjusts to the wearer’s changing waist. The buckles are manufactured from a strong zinc alloy and chromed or enamelled in a variety of finishes. Marino belts are delivered in a presentation box with a key ring included.
Canwelum Full Grain Men’s Belt
The Canwelum belt is a good-looking, brown belt assembled from high-quality leather with a bright, brass buckle. It is a casual style with a 3.7cm width that will match well with jeans. The buckle and buckle-pin are securely attached to the belt-end via double-stitched leather loops and a rivet. It is offered in five sizes between 36 and 44 inches. This belt is strong and durable and should give years of service; it enjoys excellent reviews from users and deserves its place on our ‘best’ list.
Blasea Full Grain Casual Belt
This is another high-quality, casual belt manufactured from full grain leather. It is offered in three colours: black; brown; and dark brown, with a rectangular, metal buckle with a brushed nickel finish. The buckle assembly is attached by a screw to the belt and can be easily detached if it is necessary to shorten the belt. The belt is supplied in three lengths (94cm; 102cm; 112cm) and a metal punch is included to add a new hole, if necessary. We like the two belt loops that will hold the loose end of the belt in place. This Blasea belt is another sturdy piece that pairs well with jeans and is well worth considering.
Luchengyi Full Grain Italian Dress Belt
This belt is manufactured in Italy and uses a tan-coloured, full grain leather and a rectangular, metal-alloy buckle with a brushed finish. Eight lengths are available between 34 and 48 inches and the buckle can be removed (by unscrewing the fastening bolt) if it is necessary to shorten the belt. We like the details of this belt: the natural grain of the leather; the longitudinal stitching along the top and bottom edges, and the belt loop. It is 3.5cm wide and will look equally good with a suit or jeans. It is delivered in a black gift box bearing the brand logo.The Luchengyi Italian Dress Belt is a little more expensive than our other picks but, as a reviewer reports: ‘this is a premium quality belt at a reasonable price’.