The 10 Best Men's Belts
This wiki has been updated 34 times since it was first published in April of 2015. No matter how much thought you put into your combination of pants, shirt, and shoes, you'll still need a good belt to tie it all together. Our selection of men's options includes something for every occasion, from a casual day on the links or the water through to a boardroom presentation on which your next promotion may depend, ranked here by their style, strength, and comfort. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
February 24, 2020:
Without a ton of movement in this sector, we only found it necessary to remove the Tommy Hilfiger Reversible Leather, particularly due to weaknesses in the quality of the leather that made themselves apparent around the belt's holes over time. Whether this is an issue with the labor quality operating the awl in the workshop or with the leather production itself is a moot point, but there' no denying that if you spend enough time wearing the belt on one hole, you'll soon begin to see unattractive fraying and compressions.
We replaced that model with a far nicer one in the John Varvatos Dress Casual, which is as close as we get to the designer sector outside our current designer belts list. We chose this option for its versatility, as the model included has a casual flair that could be dressed up if you wanted it to, and that comes in slightly more conservative buckle styles if you're worried this big, loopy version might be a little over the top for your personal tastes.
The Belt: An Accessory No Man Can Live Without
This classic material is handsome and durable, and it ages well.
In today's world, a man's belt can dress up or dress down an outfit, adding a casual air to a pair of slacks or bringing some refined grace to blue jeans. The fact is that no man should own just one belt, and not only because of how much impact the belt can have on the trousers and therefore the whole effect of your outfit. A man needs to own at least two dress belts because of one of the most basic issues of the fashion world: the black or brown quandary.
Basic men's fashion dictates that your shoes and belt should match or complement one another. That means a brown belt goes with brown shoes, a black belt with black shoes (or brown belt, white shoes, black belt, gray shoes, and so forth). But your belt and pants much also work together. A black belt and khaki pants, for example, is generally unacceptable, as is a brown belt worn with a black suit or slacks. This discussion can be drawn out at length, or summarized as this: a man must own a black and a dress brown belt, or he must invest in a reversible belt displaying one of these classic colors at a time. And said belt or belts must be made from a refined material such as leather, a convincing faux leather, or a more rarified option like alligator.
When choosing your dress belt (or belts), leather is often the best choice. This classic material is handsome and durable, and it ages well. If you want a belt that makes more of a statement, invest in an alligator skin option. Those who notice the material will appreciate it (others will just assume it is leather). As for color in a dress belt, generally the darker the shade, the more formal a belt appears. Thus a dark brown belt is better suited for business attire, while a caramel-colored leather belt is better for business casual attire.
For a decidedly more casual and functional belt, there are myriad options made of cloth. What these belts tend to lack in refinement, they make up for in low cost and performance. Many fabric belts are made out of tightly woven cotton that resists tearing and punctures, yet offers a bit more flexibility than leather or alligator, allowing you to cinch the belt snugly around your waist. Belts that secure with adjustable closures rather than traditional buckles also allow for plenty of comfort, reliable pants support, and sharing with others as needed. Many cloth belts also have the added benefit of being machine washable, making them a good choice for use during an activity that leads to sweat such as golfing, boating, or yard work.
Men's Belts Beyond The Basics
Most belts are worn primarily to keep a pair of pants in place, serving as single-function items. Others, however, are cleverly designed to be used during specific activities, such as a runner's belt, which can serve as a pocket, a place to secure water bottles, a safety reflector, and more, or the policeman's duty belt, to name two obvious examples. Other options look and perform much like regular belts, but have secret pockets for stashing a bit of cash or a key. Still others can surreptitiously conceal tactical self-defense gear or survival tools, including cutting implements, bottle openers, and so forth.
Therefore a man's belt can serve as one of his only outlets for personal expression.
But a belt need not be a multi-function tactical tool to go beyond the role of mere pants support system; the right belt can help a man achieve his own sense of style, too.
Men simply don't have as many options for sartorial expression as women; at least within the generally-accepted confines of polite society, there is no option for a man to wear much beyond long pants or shorts, while women can wear pants of essentially any length, skirts, and dresses. Most men also wear minimal jewelry, if any at all, and tend to accessorize their outfits only with a wristwatch and, at times, a tie, scarf, or some other individual item. Therefore a man's belt can serve as one of his only outlets for personal expression.
When you choose a bright and colorful belt, it helps to make your overall outfit standout more. A large and assertive belt buckle can lend a rugged air to an otherwise debonair gentleman, while a distinctly refined belt can speak volumes about an otherwise casually dressed fellow.
And when it comes to gift giving, a man's belt is always a surefire success, if not necessarily the most inspired option. As belts are indeed such essential accessories, and as they can do so much to enhance an outfit, few men will dislike owning several fine belts. Choose a good belt as a man's present and you are guaranteed not to give a bad gift, even if it won't be the item he prizes above all else received at a birthday or holiday.
The Belt Through the Ages
For as long as human beings have been wearing clothing, we have been wearing some manner of belt. The earliest known belts still identifiable today date back to the Bronze Age, with recovered artifacts estimated to be well over 5,000 years old. Early belts tended to be simple and utilitarian in nature, designed to cinch clothing and help keep the wearer warm and protected against the elements.
The Japanese kaku obi is a man's belt designed to be worn wrapped around a traditional kimono.
As groups of people around the world progressed from mere subsistence living into true civilizations, often their garb reflected the developments and advancements of their culture. For many groups, the belt took on a ceremonial role, became a status symbol, or did both. Many Roman Legionnaires wore ornate belts with lavishly-carved metal buckles and often draped with strips of tough leather that was both decorative and protective.
The Japanese kaku obi is a man's belt designed to be worn wrapped around a traditional kimono. The obi is both functional and decorative in nature; some simple variations were worn daily, while others were more ornate and used only during ceremonies.
Many Native American tribes created ornate hand-beaded belts that were then used for personal adornment during rituals or for trade with other natives and/or with newly arrived Europeans. This artistic accessory is still popular among appreciators of southwestern-style culture today.
In the modern era, the belt is often used to symbolize victory in a sporting event, with professional boxers, Mixed Martial Arts fighters, and wrestlers in particular vying for the championship belt.