Leather belts are one of the most basic leather essentials. Ancestors of very early animal hide belts, today’s belts are simple accessories that make a huge difference in an outfit. Leather belts are available for both genders in a wide variety of styles and colors.
Let’s explore more about what to look for.
What is a Leather Belt?
A leather belt is a long, structured accessory designed to support pants, skirts, or other garments to keep them up on the body. Belts are one of the oldest accessories in history, with fragments of buckles found tracing back to the Bronze Age.
Leather is the go-to material for belts because it stands up to being bent, folded, and cinched without sustaining any damage. As an added bonus, belts made of genuine leather will mold to the wearer over time, ensuring a truly comfortable, customized fit. Though they’re often overlooked, belts are a great way to showcase some personality in any outfit without going over the top!
What to Look for In a Leather Belt
Leather Belts are most successful when they’re made of sturdy, but not necessarily thick, material. Well-structured belts made of good-quality faux or genuine leather will function as intended while still looking neat and fashionable. Thicker belts have the potential to feel too tight and restrict movement, making them a less-than-ideal choice.
As previously mentioned, thicker, heavier leather belts can be restrictive or downright uncomfortable to wear. The exception to this is wide waist belts, which are meant to cinch the waist and create a subtle corseting effect.
It’s important to consider how a Leather belt will be worn in order to determine the appropriate length to purchase. For women, belts worn near the waist should usually be shorter than those worn near the hips. Finding the correct belt length is as easy as measuring the part of the body at which the belt will be worn, and finding a corresponding size. Most retailers include the smallest and largest measurements an adjustable belt is made to accommodate.
Considering belt color is important in finding a good quality, universally wearable belt. Browns, blacks, tans, and greys are the most common colors for belts, as they are modern neutrals that work with almost any outfit. However, choosing fun, bright colors can be an easy way to take risks and express yourself in a simple way.
Types of Leather Belts
Black Leather Belts
Black is the most common color for many leather goods, including belts. A black leather belt is an essential wardrobe piece, able to be worn with any outfit and dressed up or down for most occasions. Black leather belts are the most common choice for all genders. Black leather does not show age as quickly as lighter finishes, and its dark color will make any metal or embroidered embellishment pop!
Full Grain Leather Belts
The majority of everyday belts are made from full-grain leather. This type of leather is made from the strongest and most durable part of the animal hide, so any garment or accessory made with full-grain leather is sure to last. This is especially important for everyday belts, which must stand up to daily wear and the friction and stress that comes with it.
Custom Leather Belt
One of the best custom leather goods to consider purchasing is a custom leather belt. By commissioning a custom belt, you can guarantee that you’ve found a unique, well-fitting accessory that will last a lifetime. Since belts need to be properly fitted, custom is often the best way to get the most comfortable fit.
Western Leather Belts
Western leather belts are typically plain or hand-tooled and usually made in natural leather tones like browns and tans. Western belts may have some embellishment, life rhinestones or grommets, and are usually quite thick in comparison to regular everyday belts to hold up to lots of manual labor and movement.
Handmade Leather Belts
Handmade leather belts are an excellent choice for those who want a specific style or custom fit. Handmade belts will be made to the buyer’s exact measurements, eliminating that uncomfortable new-belt-struggle to figure out which of the belt’s buckle holes gives the best fit!
Leather Belt Without Buckle
Though buckles are the traditional way to fasten a leather belt, many try to avoid them. Some hate the weight that buckles add to belts, while others (myself included) have sensitive skin and allergies that react to metals. Leather belts without buckles can be purchased in a variety of different styles, from wrap and tie belts to snap and buckle-less hole closure.
Women's Leather Belts
Women wear belts in two distinct ways: as waist belts to cinch loose clothing, or as standard belts to hold up pants or skirts. Women’s standard belts are constructed similarly to men’s, but may be a bit thinner or more delicate. Women’s waist belts are usually made from thinner, softer leather for comfort. Women’s leather belts are available in a wide variety of colors and finishes and can be found in beautifully embellished styles.
What is the best leather for a belt?
The highest-quality leather for a belt is full-grain calfskin, which combines the softness of calfskin with the sturdiness of full-grain leather. Most everyday belts are made from full-grain leather, which is heavy enough to withstand daily use.
What makes a good leather belt?
Good quality leather belts have well-structured, sturdy stitching to hold up to long-term daily wear. Since many belts have metal buckles or clasps, proper construction and reinforcement are essential for a well-made belt.
How long can a leather belt last?
A real leather belt can last a lifetime if properly cared for. Belts require a bit more upkeep than other leather garments due to the stress they’re put through with daily use, but can still last if consistently cared for.
How can you tell if a leather belt is real?
While some faux leather is shockingly close to genuine leather, it’s usually easy to tell the difference. The most obvious way is to check the belt’s tag for materials used. A stranger way to tell is to smell the belt – if it smells like plastic, it’s faux leather. Those more acquainted with the differences can look closely at the leather’s texture – real leather, no matter what type, has inconsistent pores and texture, while faux leather’s texture tends to be entirely consistent and even.
Why do leather belts crack?
Because of the stress and friction they’re subjected to from daily wear, belts tend to crack more than other leather accessories. To combat cracking, conditioning with a balm or oil will ensure that the belt lasts for a long time.
Who makes good leather belts?
The best leather belts come from leather-specific retailers and artisans. Some designers also focus heavily on leather goods, but the best quality can be found with those who specialize only in leather.
How do you maintain a leather belt?
Leather belts can be maintained by occasional moisturizing. Checking belts for damage around the seams and hardware is also a good idea, as repairing any damage quickly will result in a longer life for the accessory.
Are leather belts good?
Leather is the best material for belts. It is long-lasting and able to withstand quite a bit of tension, folding, and friction, all of which Leather belts are subjected to with every wear. Genuine leather has the bonus of slightly stretching and molding to the wearer over time, resulting in a super comfortable custom fit.