matching

Following on from my last posting on what belt to wear, there is one, perhaps more important question – whether to wear a belt at all.

Those who wear braces deride belts as “pull-up not stay-up”. They suggest that several times a day you will be forced to hike up your belted trousers back to their original position. This would not happen with braces.

Now, I have never worn braces. But I have also never had to pull up my belted trousers during the day. I would suggest that the reason for this is that I, like most young men these days, wear my trousers on my hips. Not my waist, and nowhere in between.

Your hips – that gap just below the first ridge of your hipbones – provide a fairly stable location for the waist (the irony!) of your trousers. The swell of bone above and below stop them moving.

This is not necessarily the case on the waist, where a variable amount of fat can provide a less rigid shelf. Unless you have less than 5% body fat, there will always be more softness here than on your hip bones.

Most people who wear braces also wear their trousers on their natural waist. So it is understandable that they would deride belts as useless.

One good way to make sure your trousers don’t slip is to have a belt that fits you perfectly. The best way to do this is to have a belt cut to your waist size and punctured with holes at your precise measurements, with perhaps one either side to be safe.

(Most luxury brands offer this service. I have one from Lanvin that cost £40. Not a bad investment for something in both black and brown – it is reversible – that I will wear often, for years.)

Outside the realm of braces, there is a much better reason not to wear a belt. It can seem like too much clutter in an outfit, spoil the long lean lines of a suit, and suggest that your trousers simply don’t fit.

The first two of these points are the most important. How much more elegant is it to wear no belt with your suit – indeed, no belt loops – and have one clean, smart colour from shoes to tie? I would recommend not wearing a belt with most suits if you are dressing smartly – perhaps defined as when you are also wearing a necktie or a handkerchief.

With neither of these accessories, a belt can be a nice addition – a focus point for the eye, a replacement for those missing accents. It is also a natural accessory for a casual outfit – with odd jackets, with tweed, cotton or linen.

P.S. Make sure you look after your belt. It will get worn and fray over time, but this can be mitigated with cleaning and an occasional polish. Wearing a frayed belt is akin to wearing unpolished shoes – no matter how much of a favourite they might be, it just looks scruffy.

Indeed, my father tells the story of the manager of one company who paid to give all his male employees new belts, because Englishmen “tend to wear old favourites, and never consider that their belt might be denting their image of professionalism”.

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Rod

I take your point, but what about this: I’m 5’9″, and wearing the pants on the natural waist makes my legs look longer and more proportional to my long torso. It took years for me to accept this, but I just started doing it. It looks like it’s increasing my visual length, but I do have to tug the old belt up.

Thanks for the great post.

Easy and Elegant Life

I admit to wearing my trousers at my waist. Of course, I’m older at 42, and so less lean, I’m sure. I’ve always worn braces with a suit up ’til now. Now I have the waist fitted better and the trousers don’t slip — no belt, no belt loops, no issues at all. Trousers I have made up come with side tabs.

As long as no shirt shows at the front of the jacket where it cuts away after the last button (which may happen with low rise trousers) I don’t mind belts, no belt, side tabs or braces. It is a clean line that is the objective.

gfutfy

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James

Ergonomics dictate that if a belt is to be efficient it has to be so tight as to be uncomfortable. I therefore always wear braces, but I can understand why the youth of today sags.

Anonymous

I sometimes wear a belt and suspenders. The suspenders to hold my pants up around my waist because I have somewhat of a gut, and the belt for a complete look with the belt buckle at part of my accessory or jewelry.

Anonymous

Great Article. Thanks!

Anonymous

Simon, in reference to your comment about your reversible Lanvin belt above: I too have recently purchased one, though from Daks. Though it hit me that a problem might develop: over time, my leather belts tend to bend, as in, they become more of a U-shape. Presumably this is due to the stresses in wearing them. if a belt is reversible (and has bent over time) would it not make things difficult if one were to wear it on the other side? It would ‘bend’ the wrong way, if you will.

Anonymous

Thanks. What and how often do I use to stop it drying out?

Anonymous

Simon, how do you feel on the subject of matching your belt to your shoes?

Stanley

if you wear a high waist trouser on your hip, it may look too baggy of your trouser, isn’t it?

Ross

Hi Simon,
Your views before I alter a suit please. I have an off the rack nice suit that came with side tabs. It fits just above the hips, in a “normal” design.

I also have a bit of a belly.

I think that a belt helps to break up the the suit. Providing a solid line to break up the suit, make a clear start of the legs and also end to the stomach.

Many of my suit and odd jackets, don’t do up over my belly, a decision made with my alterations tailor. Off the rack that would close, would be too big in the chest and shoulders.

I so tend to not wear a tie, and walk around the office a lot without my jacket.

You are obviously more trim than me, but I’d be grateful for your experience of men with more girth round the middle. Do you generally see them wear?

Thanjs

Kushal

Hi Simon!
Certain doubts arose while reading this article of yours and therefore it would be very helpful if you could advice on it.
1) Do you wear casual trousers like chinos and jeans ‘mid rise or low rise’? I am 5 feet 7 inch and therefore falling in the short category and so what would be your advice for short people. Should we wear such casual trousers mid rise or low rise to give it a relaxed feel?
2) It would be the first time i am commissioning for myself ‘made to measure’ trouser. I was going for a mid rise on it and have asked the tailor to put side adjusters on it. I unfortunately have a bit of belly and therefore wanted to ask that would side adjusters be helpful in holding up the trouser or should i go belt loops?
Thanks

Fredrik

I’ve recently purchased a pair of olive green double pleated Lardini cotton trousers. They’re rather wide, quite high waisted and bear some resemblance with gurkhas. But just as gurkhas they have a quite prominent side adjuster that runs from the front to one side. In addition to that they also have belt loops. Would it look ridiculous to wear a belt with a pair of trousers with side adjusters? Would it be a bit like wearing both belt and braces? 

It seems to me that the fact that Lardini has equipped them with belt loops suggests that a belt can be used. And my intuitive opinion is that a belt would fit the military style of the trousers quite well, despite the gurkhish side adjuster (that is, by the way, almost completely covered by the belt if worn). But I’m far from sure.

Do you have any general recommendation about this?

Thanks for a great post!

Fredrik

Thanks for your reply! The trousers are Lardini’s Luxor model. I couldn’t find the exact olive green ones that I have but these are pretty close. It’s the same model anyway.

I don’t experience that the belt sticks out too much over the adjustor. But looking closely one could spot the adjustor buckle sticking up from under the belt sometimes.

Also, if wearing the trousers with a belt it would be when dressing them down a bit, not for the smartest of contexts.

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