7 Types of Belts Every Man Must Know About (And 3 To Avoid)

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by  Savarone Ammann | Last Updated:  Jun 02, 2021

Are you thinking “what the?! I didn’t know there was more than one kind of belt to pick from?”

That’s okay. I got you covered.

Way back in the 1920s, guys first started sporting belts with their trousers. A cut of cowhide, a couple punched out holes, and a metal buckle. Simpler than suspenders and overalls, that’s for sure.

But 100 years have passed, guys. And while classic leather belts are still in the mix, fashion and functionality have evolved. There are different types of belts that will better serve you for particular occasions and activities that you really ought to know about. 

And I’m about to break them all down for you.

7 Types of Belts Every Man Needs to Know and When To Wear Them

Casual Belts

Klik Belts Review

Casual belts, composed of nylon or another lighter, stronger alternative to leather, are my favorite type of belt and the one I wear about 60% of the time. 

First, consider just how far men’s pants have come. We went from having only stiff blue jeans or dress pants in our closets to high-tech 4-way stretch chinos you could take on a run.

Today, casual and work pants alike are including materials like recycled polyester, cotton, elastane, and nylon. 

Contemporary breathe and move like yoga pants. So why would you slip a rigid leather belt on with them? That would defeat the whole free flowing purpose, right?

Casual belts bend easier and act as the perfect accent to pants like denim, chinos, cotton, and slacks. 

When you should wear them:

For the most part, you’ll want to wear casual belts anytime you aren’t tucking your shirt in. Casual belts favor functionality and comfort over style. With that said, there’s plenty of casual belts that still make a tasteful style statement with a dappered down look.

Man wearing black Klik Belt 1

My top pick is the line of casual belts over at Klik Belts from Austin, Texas. Their team is producing the strongest tactical belts in the world made with nylon and a 7075 aluminum alloy COBRA® buckle designed in Austria. 

My favorite feature about this belt is the utterly satisfying sound of clicking the buckle together. Not only is it convenient to click the buckle open and closed when taking a bathroom break, but it gives you a locked and loaded feeling like you’re strapping in for your next big mission. It feels cool—even if that mission is just snagging a coffee from the shop down the street.

Black Klik Belt

Some of Klik’s thicker 2-ply belts are worn by military and police personnel and are personal favorites of the Las Vegas Swat Team. But you’ll get the same sturdy quality in their casual line in a belt that’s much better accustomed to streetwear. Thus far, this is the only belt I’ve found that feels fitting for the modern high-tech stretchy pants hitting the streets today. 

I say go ahead and wear the same pants and belt to work, to lunch, and slacklining with a bunch of acrobats in the park on your way home. You deserve that versatility.   

Klik Belts

Klik Belts aims to combine strength, form, and function into a belt that is fresh and entirely original. Using a buckle made of 7075 Aluminum alloy COBRA® is claimed to be the strongest in the world.

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Braided Belts

Hyde Belt Co braided belt for summer

Braided belts also fall within the category of “casual belts” but offer a look and texture entirely of their own. Non-leather braided belts might be made out of rayon, waxed cotton, nylon, or other materials depending on the brand. All of these materials give the belt a sporty edge that will help you perform better during light activity.

These belts usually have leather accents that pop off from the main pattern, giving them a two-tone look.

The braided design offers stretch and flexibility and a noticeably different aesthetic than other belts. 

When you should wear them:

Non-leather braided belts are best for activities that require a bit of movement like golfing, fishing, or sailing. It’s a hybrid belt that serves up a pleasant appeal while also working to bend and move with you. These belts often pair well with softer colors like salmon, lavender, and cool blues.

Hyde Belt Co braided belt wearing

If you’re going with a sporty non-leather braided belt, I’d check out The Woven Collection from Hyde Belt Co. These belts are handcrafted in New York City from braid-woven rayon. It’s a subdued statement piece that won’t feel rigid when you’re bending over the boat to collect the monster fish you just reeled in.

Hyde Woven Collection

These belts are handcrafted in New York City from braid-woven rayon. It’s a subdued statement piece that won’t feel rigid when you’re bending over the boat to collect the monster fish you just reeled in.

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Leather Belts

I saved a spot for the oldest in the game—the plain smooth leather belt. Black or brown leather is one of those materials the world has become so acquainted with, we recognize it as a standard for simplicity and elegance in style.

You’ve got synthetic leather, bonded leather, top grain leather, and full-grain leather. These variations dictate the texture and aesthetic. 

When you should wear them:

As versatile as a good pair of denim jeans, smooth leather belts can be worn with most outfits and with your shirt tucked or untucked. If you’re already wearing louder colors, pick a solid black or dark brown belt to tie your pants and shirt together nicely.

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On the contrary, if you’re sporting basic colors, consider picking out a wheat, beige, or light tan colored belt. My favorite shade is a rich dark brown leather that combines with blues, greens, and tans and almost every pair of pants I own, other than black.

Avoid pairing black pants with a brown belt, for the same reason light brown shoes don’t pair well black dress pants.

Main Street Forge makes a simple, solid leather belt, which is my pick for its durability and classic styling.

Main Street Forge Everyday Belt

You can't go wrong with this simple, no-frills leather belt for casual, everyday wear.

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Dress Belts

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Dress belts are usually made of superior quality full-grain leather. They look and feel even smoother and sturdier than regular leather belts. 

They should lay flat against soft dress pants, hold your shirt in place, and tie in with whatever color scheme you’re sporting. Often, dress belts are hand stained and reveal small, elegant stitching around the edges. Less is more with dress belts. Pick a single solid color of beautifully cut leather for your dress belt.  

When you should wear them:

The dress belt might get the least amount of use of all the belts in your closet. It’s reserved for black tie events, weddings, funerals, shows and operas, graduations, and events that generally require you to put your best foot forward in the most formal attire you possess.

For a blue suit, pick out a brown belt. For a black suit, pick out a black belt. If you want to toss a bit of flair into your dress belt line up, pick out a smooth light blue leather belt or another fun but versatile color.

My choice is one of the dress belts from the Roger Ximenez collection. These are simple, classy, and durable.

Roger Ximenez

Roger Ximenez belts feature no loose grain or imperfections, but there's still plenty of character in the stitching and craftsmanship. These belts are heirloom level pieces you'll want to pass down.

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Leather Braided Belts

Now we’re getting into the niche categories, aren’t we? A lot of guys will argue that leather braided belts are a thing of the past. But I don’t think they need to die with your grandpa’s generation.

Braided leather belts can be carefully sprinkled into modern attire and add texture to a dressed up look. The nice part about braided leather is that you can usually slip the prongue directly into the tongue in one of the many holes weaving through the belt.

This makes for seamless adjustments without relying on spaced out holes.

When you should wear them:

Leather braided belts have been called a preppy item before. I disagree. It all depends on what you pair it with. Toss a braided belt on with a linen shirt and looser fitting clothing for a breezy summer BBQ or day spent at the park. 

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Try tucking a lighter colored button down into a pair of chinos and slipping on a braided belt. You want the textured look of the belt to add a soft accent, not steal the show. That will be the deciding factor.

Fossil is making a pretty spiffy minimal version of the leather braided belt. This is one that will look presentable in the present day but still get the nod of approval from grandpa. Respect your elders with style.

Fossil Myles Leather Braided Belt

Fossil cranks out the leather goods and their braided leather belt has a unique knit to it that's a little more unique than other options on the market.

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D-Ring Belts

D-ring belts also fall into the “casual category”, but because this buckle is so dang different, I gave it its own section. Usually, D-ring belts are constructed of canvas or another lightweight material.

D-ring belts tend to have less material than a traditional buckle. The closing mechanism is simply two D-shaped rings of metal that you slide the tongue of the belt through. After sliding the tongue through both rings, you pull the rings apart and slip the tongue back through them and tighten. Did that make sense? No? Here’s a visual.

When you should wear them:

As mentioned, D-ring belts tend to be casual—sometimes, too casual. Many D-ring belts reflect spunky patterns that don’t belong to any decade and really don’t match well with anything. I’m all for an original color, pattern, or texture so long as it’s tasteful. 

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Go with one of the blues, greys, or pines in the johnnie-O Brentwood Washed Canvas belt. This makes for a casual D-ring belt that’s as stylish as it is playful. 

johnnie-O Brentwood Washed Canvas D-Ring Belt

Keep it chill with this washed canvas d-ring belt. This is one of the best available.

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Suede Belts

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Hold on, suede is just another form of leather and we talked about leather belts ad nauseam. Yes it is and yes we did, but suede offers its own aesthetic in the greater category of “leather belts” and deserves some dissecting.

Suede is softer both in color and texture when compared to smooth leather belts. Suede also feels gentler around your waist and won’t be as rigid as it’s smooth leather counterpart. 

When you should wear them:

Similar to braided belts, you want to employ suede for a bit of texture and contrast in a casual outfit. Suede can be worn in all four seasons and should pair with almost every style of pants so long as the colors don’t conflict.

However, I wouldn’t pair suede with a suit. Save your smooth leather belt for formal occasions. Suede is a couple steps down from the chicness of a smooth leather dress belt. It would be best paired with denim, chinos, or linen.

A wheat colored suede belt will pop beautifully off a pair of dark washed denim. That would be my ideal pairing.

Johnston & Murphy makes a clean looking perforated belt that has me won over. 

Johnston & Murphy Perfed Suede Belt

It's suede and it has lots of tiny holes. This is a blend of casual and upscale, all from a brand I like and trust.

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3 Types of Belts You Should Absolutely Never Wear

Studded Belts

The emblem of the punk rock era. Studded belts sort of scream angry boy angst. And unless you’re trying to scream angry boy angst—I wouldn’t wear one. These will demote the appearance of almost every outfit.

OK, I’ll say this: the only time you should wear a studded belt is if you are A$AP Rocky and you’re doing a New York City Dior street fashion show. Is that fair?

Thin Leather Belts

Thin belts are past their prime. First of all, you want something that won’t get swallowed up by your pants. Secondly, they feel like half of an accessory, not a full one.

Thin belts are somehow indecisive. Like, does this guy really want to be wearing a belt? We should politely leave them in the 1950s films that they looked cool in back then.

Canvas Web Belts

A nylon belt is built firm. A braided belt is textured. A canvas D-ring belt is laid back. A canvas web belt is tacky. These mostly come in bright colors and not only look preppy but also exude a sense of adolescence. Gentleman, let’s keep our belt game out of the sandbox.

Strap In

There’s more to belts than a couple punch holes and a buckle, huh? Belts accent your outfit and can either tie your outfit together, or be a hideous distraction.

Make it the former. Consider picking up a casual belt you can wear with most outfits. My pick is the essentially indestructible casual belts over at Klik Belts

Klik Belts

Klik Belts aims to combine strength, form, and function into a belt that is fresh and entirely original. Using a buckle made of 7075 Aluminum alloy COBRA® is claimed to be the strongest in the world.

Shop Klik Belts Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

But don’t be afraid to toss a braided belt or suede belt into the mix, either.

As long as you feel comfortable and stylish and your pants haven’t fallen to your ankles, then you’re winning in my book.

FAQs

How many belts should a man have?

A man should have anywhere from 2-4 belts. You’ll want a casual belt for everyday use and a black or dark brown smooth leather dress belt for formal occasions. After that, you can toss in suede, braided belts, or D-ring belts depending on your fashion preferences.

What color belts should a man have?

Every man should own a black or brown belt and one that pairs easily with jeans, chinos, and dress pants. From here, you can move into grey, tan, beige, or even funkier colors like blue or green depending on your outfit.

Are braided belts out of style?

Braided belts are commonly associated with older generations. This doesn’t mean they are out of style. A classic brown braided leather belt is a great addition to a summery linen outfit or looser fitting clothes.

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