Men’s Belt Guide

mens belt guide

A man’s belt is the centerpiece of his outfit. Wearing the wrong type of belt can ruin your entire look, while wearing a sharp-looking belt will give you the appearance of a respectable man.

The parts of men’s belts don’t need explanation, so I’m going to focus on the different types and how to wear them properly. This is your men’s belt guide.

Formal vs. Casual

There are two general categories of belts — formal (dress) and casual. Formal belts are worn with suits, dress pants, and business outfits. Casual belts are worn in every other situation.

Formal Belts

Formal belts are always black or brown leather. They’re typically thinner and softer than casual belts. They also have small gold or silver frame-style buckles.


It’s important to match the color of your belt to your shoes. If you’re wearing black leather shoes, you need to wear a black leather belt. if you’re wearing brown leather shoes, you need to wear a brown leather belt. No exceptions.

The color of your belt buckle should match the color of your accessories, such as a men’s watch, cufflinks, or buttons. Shiny gold or silver accessories should match a shiny gold or silver belt buckle. Also see 5 Rules of Matching Your Watch to Your Outfit.


Formal belts are 1-1.5″ wide and .1″ thick. They are thinner than casual belts.

The length of your belt should not be much longer than your waist. The tail of your strap should only go 1-2 inches past your belt buckle. If your strap is going through the second belt loop, it’s too long.

Formal Belt Summary

  • Black or brown color
  • Leather
  • 1-1.5″ wide
  • Thin and soft strap
  • Small gold or silver frame-style buckle
  • Color of belt strap should match color of shoes
  • Color of belt buckle should match color of accessories
  • Length should be 1-2″ longer than waist

Black All-Over Genuine Deer Belt

Men’s USA

Black All-Over Genuine Deer Belt

Casual Belts

Any belt that isn’t formal is casual. These are belts that you wear day-to-day. There are a lot of options.


Casual belts are usually brown or tan, but they can be any color. Choose a color that matches your outfit.


Size varies, but they are usually 1.5-1.75″ wide. They are also thicker and stiffer than formal belts. Buckles can be larger as well.


Casual belts come in all styles. There is a wide variety of strap and buckle materials to choose from.

Strap Materials

  • Cowhide
  • Crocodile
  • Suede
  • Canvas
  • Vinyl
  • Ostrich
  • Braided leather
  • Faux leather
  • Rope
  • Webbing

Buckle Types

  • Frame-style
  • Plate-style
  • Box-out
  • Snap
  • Micro-adjust
  • Box-frame
  • O-ring/D-ring

Casual Belt Summary

  • Any color
  • Any material
  • 1.5-1.75″ wide
  • Thicker and stiffer than formal belts
  • Small or large buckles
  • Length can be a bit longer than formal belts

Avana Hornback Belt

Men’s USA

Avana Hornback Belt

You’re now ready to choose a men’s belt for any occasion. Stick with classic belts for formal occasions, and get creative with your everyday attire. Refer back to this men’s belt guide whenever you’re unsure about your decision. 

About The Author

Tommy Murata Edit profile

As Founder of Handbook of Man, Tommy Murata helps men of all ages and backgrounds reach their full potential. A self-proclaimed renaissance man, he enjoys golfing, skiing, DIY projects, and learning new skills. When he’s not playing outdoors, Tommy enjoys learning web design and playing music.

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