There’s nothing like a simple belt to make you look, and feel, put together. But look at any lifestyle blog or men’s fashion magazine, and you’d think there was a sacred art to finding the right one and wearing it properly lest, heaven forbid, you break some unwritten, esoteric fashion rule.
Well, for all the seemingly random commandments the fashion world likes to throw at us every now and then, you might be surprised to find that there’s not that much to it. For a grown-up look, especially for workwear, it should always be simple leather with an equally simple buckle.
How to choose the best belt for you
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But while we all agree that studded belts and enormous novelty buckles should stay in the early 2000s where they belong, if you want to make more of a statement, you can get away with something a little flashier by only emphasising one element or the other – that’s as close as an article on men’s belts is going to get to the ‘smoky eye or statement lip’ debate, FYI.
You can also afford a little more wiggle room for casual outfits: think a canvas strap, or a more adventurous shade, to set off those summer chinos.
Always match your belt and your shoes – that’s just good taste. Wear it just above your hips to avoid that just-wedgied look, and make sure you’re not wearing it so tight that it leaves your trousers hems swinging high above your shoes.
Your trousers should be able to stay up without help (if they don’t, it’s new trousers you need, not a new belt), but think of it as a helping hand throughout the day to make sure you’re not channeling your sixteen-year-old self and offering the general public a flash of your unmentionables. And hey, that’s about it! Not too painful, right?
When it comes to our picks, Italy reigns supreme in the battle of the belts, with luxury offerings from Versace and Ermenegildo Zegna and a wildcard casual option from Diesel, closely followed by Brit-cool offerings from Tom Ford and Aspinal of London.
Essentially though, there’s something for all budgets, so kick back, belt up, and keep reading for our list of the best.
The best belts for men
This minimal belt eschews the traditional all-round buckle for a simple T bar design, which might feel a little odd if you’re not used to it, but offers a sleeker profile and a subtle twist to the overall look that keeps this otherwise classic belt from looking staid. Mr Porter say the full-grain leather of this robust belt will only grow more handsome over time (just like its wearer, right?) which almost justifies the slightly eye-watering price. A real investment accessory, with tangible quality and longevity.
At around a tenth of the price of some of our higher-end picks, this Ralph Lauren number is fantastic value for a designer belt. Of course, by abstaining from the shouty logos and flashier design features of some designer options, there’s not much to tip you off that that’s what it is, but who cares? It’s a good-looking leather belt, A word of caution: reviewers found their usual belt sizes to be bizarrely small, so based on that we advise sizing up.
A double whammy of full-grain leather and top-notch nubuck, this Aspinal of London offering takes the top spot as our best belt for men with its luxurious construction and simple but elegant styling. It’s standard width with a simple square buckle, so it’s the little touches that really matter here, like the embossed Aspinal crest and angular squared-off tongue. In rich cognac or classic black, it’ll go with pretty much anything, so when you combine that timeless look and quality build, you have what we think is a winning investment.
So you know it’s black with black and brown with brown, but does that mean forking out for two belts? Not necessarily. This reversible leather belt has a shade on each side, making an incredibly versatile addition to your accessories wardrobe. Far from foregoing aesthetics for functionality, this luxe Italian-made leather belt by Ermenegildo Zegna looks great both ways and its high-shine D-ring buckle looks elegant.
This Diesel belt is far and away the most casual on our list, but when you’re going for an offbeat off-duty look, sometimes simple leather just won’t cut it. Diesel have mastered the vibe with this olive canvas belt – its desaturated green shade makes a refreshing change from brown or black for summer outfits, while the embossed logo buckle keeps things from looking too anonymous, which the traditional army webbing belt it’s styled after runs the risk of doing. Plus, if you’re the kind of guy who likes that perfectly distressed vintage look without having to do a lick of distressing yourself, look no further.
While this statement-making Versace belt might be a notch too far for the more shy and retiring sartorialists among you, it’s pretty much unbeatable for adding a quick bit of glamour to an otherwise understated party outfit. The high-shine round gold buckle features Versace’s classic Medusa iconography, giving this luxury designer belt enough oomph to stand out, but not so much oomph as to make you look like you’ve just rocked up to the party having won a boxing championship.