The Woven Leather Belt

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Belts are a fact of life and most of us have a closet full of failed attempts at finding just the right combination of style and utility. For even the most sartorially proficient, finding just the right fit can sometimes mean forgoing the style we really wanted – a practical example of form following function.

Even when those two goals are met, many men are, frankly, clueless when it comes to actually pairing a belt with the rest of their outfit. For those who wear a suit every day, it’s a simple drill: match your belt and shoes. Of course that’s not some kind of inviolate law; rather, like so many other fashion rules, it is meant to help you learn the basics before becoming creative.

The rest of the working world is more or less on its own. Without the time-tested conventions of formal dress, the open ended options offered by casual work environments leave some men a bit confused. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen elegant, narrow dress belts clumsily paired with slouchy khakis. The coup de gras is when that gent is also sporting shiny dress cap toes; I see it more than I would prefer, it’s not pretty.

I think I can offer up a good solution though; a belt that can span the arc of casual dressing, from jeans and a t-shirt to pressed chinos and a blue blazer. The woven leather belt.

An excellent option that provides long term style and customized functionality, the woven leather belt is a good investment financially and sartorially. In brown or black, this multipurpose workhorse can fit in very well in most casual work environments. With a neutral yet masculine style and the ability to fit you exactly right, this appealing belt hits all the marks.

Though not at all appropriate with a suit, this belt’s style tackles most any corporate casual situation with aplomb. And in addition to being able to size it to your exact needs, this style of belt also has year-round appeal. It is casual enough to be right at home with your jeans, but still possesses a refined quality that pairs well with dressier pants.

Look for one crafted from strong but supple leather, tightly woven and at least 1 ¼ inches wide. Unless you are going for some kind of Southwest cowboy look, avoid decorative patterns and shiny hardware. Stick with a traditional solid brass buckle and leather keeper. Bear in mind that designs will vary and some brands have a polished look while others are clearly meant for your days off.

I’m not claiming that this is an all purpose belt, or that it works for every occasion; but it’s a belt you should have on hand for those many in between situations.


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Chris Hogan, an association executive based in Washington, D.C., blogs at OffTheCuffDC.com. A lifelong interest in style and clothing led to sales and management positions at several Ralph Lauren stores and an active wardrobe consulting practice

Comments

  1. Chris,
    Nice article. I do like woven leather belts. There is something casually colonial about them. My father bought one but considered it a little too ‘dull’ in tone – he is a man who expects even leather accessories to have the patina of his favourite walnut antique furniture – and so he customised it a little; sanding away at the weaves to make it look a little worn, and then coating it in a protective oil which restored a grand shine and tone. It is his favourite belt.

    He always said to me that plain belts, due to their construction, got rather worse with age. And relatively quickly too. Whereas his woven belt has lasted a good deal of time and is, as you say, very versatile.

    Winston

  2. Roderick Mallia says:

    I always shyed away from woven belts. Perhaps I should give them a try on a more casual day. Thanks for the article Chris.

  3. Chris says:

    Thanks for the great story Winston, I’m wearing my Polo woven belt right now. As its about 10 years old now, it has a nice worn-in look to it but I’ll keep your dad’s approach in mind for the future.

    Roderick, do give one a try; they can be a great in-between alternative when you want something not overly smart and not too casual.

    Chris