This seems like an easy task. But it can be fraught with problems.

Let’s start with the most basic guidelines. If you are wearing a leather belt, it should match your leather shoes, if you are wearing them. Black shoes should be paired with a black belt, brown with brown and tan with tan.

The shades need not match exactly, but they must be close. The brown may be a little paler or a little darker, but it should not be able to be described as tan.

The texture need not match exactly either. The belt can be crocodile, ostrich or brogued. Indeed, a belt that matches the shoes exactly (both black crocodile, for example) smacks of artifice. Somehow it suggests you are all crocodile skin underneath, and only these two bits are peaking out.

Suede belts and woven leather belts are naturally more casual, and that should be reflected in the suit or outfit they go with – linen suits, odd jackets, outfits without ties. But again, colours should be similar.

Brightly or unusually coloured belts can work well, particularly as one pop of colour on an otherwise plain outfit. However, the colour of the shoes and belt should always be different enough to be a real contrast.

Brown is not an effective contrast with black or tan. Try primaries – reds, yellows – with black shoes, as you would with socks. And more muted colours with brown – oranges, greens – again as you might with socks.

The belt should not be too wide or too narrow. The easiest way to gauge whether it is either of these is to compare it to the width of the belt loops it will go through. Jeans have wider loops and should have wider belts. They can also be heavier, to reflect the material. Worsted wools should have sleaker, slimmer belts. But again the width of the loops is your best guide.

The buckle should be obvious, at least with a suit. Slim, discrete and silver in colour (unless you wear much gold elsewhere). No logos.

Ribbon belts can work well, particularly with summer outfits (again, matching the weight of the belt to the weight of the material it ties together). Best not to combine them with every other preppy accessory, though.

Ties as belts may have been a favourite of Fred Astaire but they are hard to pull off with elegance. If he had started wearing neckties around his waist before he was universally considered stylish, I would bet a chunk of money that it would have seemed artificial.

Next week, the follow-up question: whether to wear a belt at all. You lucky things you.

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I have a question about my suit for a wedding I am going to on January 3rd…

I have a black, slim cut 3 button suit and a tan organgeish belt/shoes combiniation. I feel like it makes me pop a little bit and is similar to how people dressed when I lived in Italy. My parents think that it looks tacky and that I should go with all black. They say that all the websites they read tell them I would look like an informal mess.

I just think they don’t get young/European styles. What is your take on it?


A question about matching. I recently bought a pair of blue suede Chukkas. Now I am wondering which Colour belt would match it. I am thinking that a blue suede belt would be to much? What would You suggest? I am wearing the shoes with taupe Incotex chinos and a blue jacket


Hi Simon:
I have got CJ double monk in brown and I try to choose a belt to match with it, I think the belt I have got is darker than CJ’s brown. Is it fine? I’m going to a formal dinner party, will this combination be appropriate ?




Thanks Simon. I think my CJ is more like the slight shinning brown due to the polish. The belt is matte dark brown. They are not that close sometimes depends on the differnt lights. However the difference is not like dark brown and tan.


Andy Liu

Another question, Simon.
Do you think dark brown belts go well with chocolate brown CJ? i think my belt is in dark brown, and Cj is in Dark Brown Burnished Calf. My belt is definitely darker than my shoes.




Hi, Simon,
I have got a question about combination od suede belts and calf shoes for informal ocasions: 1. would black suede belt and black calf shoes be OK ? 2. would navy blue suede belt be OK for navy blue chinos or jeans and black calf trainers ?
What is your take on it?

Gemma Carey

My favourite belt brand is Elliot Rhodes – they produce luxury quality belts in leather and exotic skins. They have a really fab interchangeable system where you can change your buckles around whenever you like! They have specialists in store that help you choose a style and measure/cut it to your size there and then! I’d definitely recommend checking them out…


“If you are wearing a leather belt, it should match your leather shoes”

Hi Simon, this is my first time to comment on your blog so I should begin by saying that I find PS to be fantastic.

Having read the Matching Belt & Shoes rule before, I’ve often wondered ‘why?’ I’d be curious to hear your typically enlightening insight behind this axiom of habillement.

Merci beaucoup, Ro.


Simon, would you recommend wearing a suede belt with suede shoes, or would that be too matchy matchy? If not, what use would one have for a brown suede belt?


Hi Simon,
I’ve recently bought a pair of (dark-ish) olive suede loafers which I find surprisingly versatile and subtle (own any?). My question is, would you ever wear a brown belt with those? Thank you


My thoughts exactly. Thanks!


For a black belt- what would be a good go to brand at the mid price level? I got one on the high street few months ago and looks very fatigue already. Fair to add most of my trousers are worn without belt anyway, so it wasn’t used extensively. I’m looking for quality without any any names on the buckle etc.


hi simon.
Am looking at a belt to go with some straight leg chinos (khaki/olive/navy).
I currently only own a brown suede/canvas one which goes well with polos and t-shirts. I mostly wear brown suede/calf loafers.

Considering the below:

If you could get two, which would they be and in which order would you consider the purchases? Many thanks!


Thanks Simon would you say there is a difference in formality between the two which you would pick?



I have a belt with a brass plaque buckle that I wear occasionally to work (not with suits, but with relaxed outfits, such as chinos and a sports coat). I’m inclined to let the brass tarnish and develop a patina; shining it constantly seems a bit finicky. Do you shine your metal buckles?

Lindsay Eric McKee

I’m going in for a Dent’s Reversible Leather Belt, a snip at £25 in Brown/Black in size 43-45″ It has a unique Clip Buckle.
Can’t go wrong with Dent’s surely?


What colour of belt should a person wear with burgundy shoes? Would burgundy belts work?
Some articles also suggest that for unusual shoe colours a person should match the colour of his belt to the trousers. What would be your opinion on it?


So a shade of burgundy a bit darket or lighter than the colour of shoe work?
Also Simon i have read your article on sprezzatura and one thing you have written over there was nothing in your outfit should be too loud so that eyes run seamlessly back towards your face, and so in that context i wanted to ask that would you burgundy shoe to be quite loud if the rest of my outfit is fairly neutral?


When worn, what’s the appropriate length for the loose end of the belt (put differently, how much excess belt should extend from the buckle? Thanks in advance.


Hi Simon – I am looking to pick up a black alligator belt to wear with a dark suit (charcoal or navy) and black captoes. Do you consider either a glazed (shinier) or matte finish on the belt to be more appropriate for this use? Or does it really just come down to personal preference?

Many thanks!