Belts: apart from holding your trousers up, are they really that important? Well, yes. “Belts and shoes are like cousins," says Thread Style Director Shaunie Brett. "Just as a bad pair of shoes can let an outfit down, a bad belt can do exactly the same.”
In the most basic sense, there are two simple rules to live by:
Think of your belt as a tool, not an accessory. "It's there to hold up your trousers, not to make a statement. That means big buckles and bold lettering aren't the right way to go."
Try to coordinate your belt with your outfit in some way. “If you don’t treat your belt as a complete afterthought—by making it in the same colour family as your shoes, for example—your whole outfit will look sharper.”
Below, Shaunie talks us through three key belt styles to look out for.
Thread’s favourite belt 1. Coloured belt
Why we like it: “A woven, colourful belt is great because it has a classic look and feel—but the colour adds personality. It’s an easy way to bring some interest into an otherwise simple outfit.”
What to look for: “Pick one with a small, simple buckle so that the colour is the only focus."
... and avoid: “Anything wider than the belt shown here. A wide swath of colour can overwhelm your entire outfit.”
Wear it with: “Colourful belts are easier than you'd think! They're particularly great for summer with shorts and a T-shirt. But you can also use the belt to break up an outfit that's all one colour family, like a white shirt and stone chinos. Just make sure you only wear them with clothes on the casual end of the spectrum; never, for example, with a suit."
Thread’s favourite belt 2. Black formal belt
Why we like it: "A casual belt on formal trousers lets the whole thing down! (Sorry, had to.) Although a suit shouldn’t require a belt, when you do need one you should make sure it's as understated as possible."
What to look for: “Medium width (around an inch), plain leather construction, and simple, non-eyecatching buckles. You can't go wrong with that combination. Black is usually a safe option because it goes with the most common smart clothes, ike navy or grey suits.”
...and avoid: “Anything eye-catching. The aim is for no one to notice you're even wearing a belt."
Wear it with: “When dressing formally, it’s a good idea to match your belt with your shoes—so go for a black leather belt with black leather shoes. This sort of belt could also work with very dark chinos or black jeans if you wanted to smarten them up a bit.”
Thread’s favourite belt 3. Brown casual belt
Why we like it: “Black and brown are the classic belt colours, and brown is definitely the more casual of the two. This one’s suede, which means it’ll work well with jeans and chinos (suede tends to be more casual than shiny polished leather).”
What to look for: “You could go woven leather, like this one, or plain—the trick is to go for an unremarkable button and non-shiny leather. (In a way, figuring out whether a belt is smart or casual is kind of deciding whether smart shoes go with jeans.)"
...and avoid: “Keep clear of anything oversized or too bright. The aim is to look relaxed without overdoing it.”
Wear it with: “There are no hard rules when it comes to wearing a casual belt. This is the belt to wear on your time off, after all! Just put a little thought into how colours might match. A brown belt like this would go really well with denim and navy, but brown and black don't look as good together."