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Men's Wardrobe Essential: Black Dress Belt

Finesse your finishes touches

By Style Girlfriend | Last Updated: Jul 18 2018

Just like a necktie, a good dress belt is an essential part of a well-dressed man’s wardrobe. While all belts are designed to help keep your pants up, not all belts are equal. It’s important to have a belt that is a little more serious and understated for those serious events that may come up. From job interviews to weddings, a good dress belt with come in handy as a great finishing touch.

The breakdown on the essential black dress belt:

How To Wear It

Simply put, any outfit where you are wearing suiting elements should have a dress belt accompanying them. Even looks where you pair a blazer with jeans or a suit with sneakers should have either a dress belt or none at all. A dress belt is the cherry on top of a great suited look; the perfect finishing touch.

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Bad belts can be seen a mile away. Bad leather, an obnoxious buckle, all these things scream “I don’t care.” A dress belt should let you do all the talking. Buckles should be simple and clean. If you’re not sure whether to go with a silver, brass, or gold buckle, here’s a hint: look at your wrist. If your watch metal is silver toned go with silver, if it’s gold tones go with brass or gold. This is the closest you’ll ever come to worrying about “matching jewelry.” Guys are so lucky…

Engine turned slide belts can be a great dress option if you don’t want to worry about holes. Just make sure you can wrap the belt all the way around your waist with a little extra and you’re good to go. One of Tiffany’s best known products for men is their silver engine turned slide buckle. Often owners will have their initials engraved on them for a nice personal touch. eBay is a great place to find vintage Tiffany’s buckles for great prices.

As far as care, dress belts are extremely low maintenance. No need to polish or buff them like your dress shoes. The best way to store them is, starting from the buckle, to gently roll the belt up and keep them in a drawer.

Why it’s an essential

The Basics

The difference between a casual belt and dress belt is all in the details. Dress belts are slimmer and sleeker than their casual counterparts. You should look for a dress belt between 1 ⅛ and 1 ¾ inch. Stylistically, your dress belt should follow the lead of your dress shoes: they should be simple and the same color.  Look for a belt without any bells or whistles. Start with a black dress belt. This will pair with the pair of black captoe dress shoes we’ve already designated as a wardrobe essential.

The Leather

Like with your shoes, go for a full grain leather belt. They will last longer and age much better than corrected grain or synthetic leathers. Full grain leather is leather made from the top most layer of the hide, just below the hair. It is the most durable part of the hide. Corrected grain leather is made by buffing the top few millimeters off of the hide, giving the leather a uniform and even appearance. This is usually done with hides that have large amounts of scarring on them. You can tell full grain leather from corrected leather from its appearance and feel. Corrected leather belts will often have a shiny almost plastic look and feel to them.

Sizing

Most belts have 5-7 holes in them. You know a belt is your size if it closes securely and comfortably on the middle hole. A good rule of thumb is to get a belt that is one size larger than your pant waist size. i.e. if you wear a size 32 waist pant, start with a size 34 belt.

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