It is currently taking all my self control to prevent myself from buying this beautiful web belt from Archival Clothing. It’s $24! Gimme a break.
It’s On eBay
Gieves & Hawkes Belt
This is more of an “it was on eBay” post. I put in a valiant bid, but I didn’t win. Didn’t want to blow up my spot. Still worth admiring, though.
My wife got me a pelican hook belt (above, rear) from Narragansett Leathers for my birthday. Hand-made in New England with hefty brass marine hardware. If you want one, you can give them a call at 207-563-5080, and they’ll grab one off the shelf for you and ship it priority for a very modest price - or if they’re out, they cut one for you today. What a wonderful gift.
Here’s a perfect illustration of a casual belt/shoe combination, courtesy of MistahWong. Canvas shoes, rope belt. Not the same color, but the same neighborhood. Both casual. Worn with casual cotton trousers.
Q and Answer: Belts
Eric writes: I understand that a belt should be roughly the same color as the shoes it is paired with but are there other guidelines? What dictates a belts width, texture, or buckle color and style?
A standard men’s dress belt is about 1 1/4” wide. That will look “normal” with almost any trouser. Narrower than 1” and you’re wearing a fashion statement. Wider than 1 1/4” and the belt is casual; more suitable for jeans or work wear than for dress wear.
As you say, the color of your belt should roughly match the color of your shoes. They don’t need to be a perfect match (some even argue that a perfect match tries too hard), but they shouldn’t look dramatically different. The hardware is usually either brass (or some other yellow-colored metal) or nickel (or some other silvery-colored metal). Which you prefer is up to you. There are those who match the metal of their watch to their belt buckles and cuff links, this is a bit much for me. The buckle should be plain. D-ring and fancy buckles are for casual wear.
As far as the finish of the belt, I prefer a rough match to my shoes, as well. Dark brown suede shoes means dark brown suede belt. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, though. As with shoes, suede is more casual than smooth calf.
With summery shoes or sneakers, you have a few options. You can go with a leather belt that roughly matches the leather on the shoes. You can also go with a more casual belt. During the warmer months, I often wear a braided rope belt with my canvas sneakers, and sometimes a colorful ribbon belt. With off-white summer shoes, I often wear a surcingle belt, made of cotton or cotton and wool, with leather ends.
One slightly off-topic note: not many people realize that belts can be altered. If you’ve lost some weight, take your belt to the shoe repair store, and they can shorten it for you. They do this by removing the buckle, cutting down the buckle end, then re-attaching the buckle. That way, you retain the same number of holes on the pointy end.
(Belts above are by the good folks at Narragansett Leathers. We love them.)
Q and Answer: Suspenders and Belts
William writes: What are your thoughts on wearing braces/suspenders? Personally, I love the look, but a suit without a belt makes no sense to me. Is it overkill to wear both?
Particularly for relatively high-waisted pants, I love suspenders (or braces, as they’re known in the UK). Particularly for those of us with, let us say, ill-defined waists, they can really help keep pants up and shirts down. I also find them exceedingly comfortable.
A few guidelines:
- Avoid clip-on suspenders, unless you’re a contractor and need help holding up a tool belt. (In which case, you should definitely get the kind that looks like a measuring tape.)
- Suspenders should be under a coat or vest. Wearing them (as Andre Benjamin is above) as an accessory should be reserved for skins and people comfortable with sartorial power moves.
- Don’t wear a belt and suspenders, it’ll make you look like a tool.
Eight Days of Style
Reader Lucy wrote to us to ask that we suggest eight super-basic, affordable Hanukkah gifts for her boyfriend “to replace his stained light-wash jeans and Nine Inch Nails t-shirts.” We’ll offer one choice for each day the oil burned.
Above: get him a mid-brown 1 1/4” belt from Narragansett Leathers. They’ll make it to your specifications for $32, and finish it with a nice brass buckle. It may not be the only belt he ever needs, but he will certainly need this belt. (Get him one in black, too.)
Narrangansett make their accessories by hand in Damariscotta, Maine. In addition to the O-ring and Rifle Sling belts picture above, they also make pelican and hoof-pick belts for the mariners and equestrians among us as well as all sorts of traditional belts. They’re all extremely reasonably priced, too - about $35 or $40. Cheap enough to cover your belt needs, whatever they may be. They’ll even make you a briefcase. I had them make one for my wife as a graduation gift, and it’s one of her most favorite possessions.
They’ll ship anywhere, but they’re closed February and March (snowed in, I’m guessing), and you have to call them - 207-563-5080 is their number. They’re exceptionally nice.