A pertinent sartorial question that often crops up is whether a man should be wearing a belt with their suit. Men generally fall into both yes and no camps so it can be difficult to find a clear and concise answer on the matter.
Much of the discussion surrounding the belt with suit debate has come from changing fashions of formal attire. In the past men wore looser fit trousers, so the belt was a necessity to keep your trousers at waist level. Now more men prefer a slimmer, tailored fit which removes much of the need for a belt as a functioning accessory.
So, should you still be wearing a belt with your suit?
Yes, but not always, would be the most diplomatic answer. You see, the style gods of menswear will tell you that if you buy the correct size trousers in the most flattering fit for your body. Then, there is no need for a belt. If anything, a belt might alter the shape of your look and have a negative effect.
But, style rules are made to be broken.
The key to nailing a suit worn with a belt is to focus on the details. In menswear, the devil is in the details and small tweaks can take your outfit from average to great. Belts, like any accessory, should be approached with the same cunning eye.
Remember, there are some key styling reasons why a belt can also be great for the wearer. For taller men, the belt can offer a subtle visual break in an outfit. While for those that have lost weight it can cinch in the waist ever so slightly.
Always, always leather. But, that doesn't mean you can get away with your old brass buckle number you wear with jeans. The belt is complimenting the suit and should not draw the eye away from it.
Choose high-grade leather as this will be beautifully supple. It will be this suppleness that will enable it to hold its shape and look its best for longer.
If you have a few different belts already then by all means try out a burnished finish or even a crocodile leather belt. But, the classic is always going to be the most reliable and contemporary. A nice polished leather will deliver on everything it needs to.
You may or may not have noticed that the belt loops on suit trousers are typically smaller than that on jeans. This makes them the perfect partner for a thinner style belt.
Measure your waist before buying as size definitely matters when it comes to this accessory. We don't want men purchasing belts that are too big only to end up with a trail of excess belt leather hanging down. Be prepared and buy only what fits with a couple of inches to spare.
To match the thinner belt, you want a belt buckle that is not too overpowering. Simplicity is key here, so opt for a clean and paired back frame. No large logos or branding as this will draw the eye towards the belt, which is not what we want.
This will depend on your current suit options. Darker hues will go better with more colours of suit though and I would argue to not stray too far from black or dark brown.
Importantly, there is one style rule we just can't ignore. Always match your belt colour with that of your dress shoes. It has been decreed from those above and we have to agree it must be followed.
If you ever ask a tailor when you should wear a belt with a suit, they will say never. Suits made by professional tailors won't have belt loops, instead, they add side adjusters. These allow for movement, while the overall construction of the trouser follows the natural shape of the wearer. Made to their exact measurements, the trousers will fit snugly around the waistband.
Tailors will tell you that wearing a belt makes the waistband abnormally nip in at the waist and result in skewing the natural drape of the trouser. If you need more tightness at the waist than the side adjustors provide, then get the trousers altered by the tailor. In the meantime, you could wear braces to stop the trousers from sagging down.
Now, we aren't saying all you men have a wardrobe of tailored suits to choose from. But, side adjusters are becoming more popular among suit selling brands as they deliver a modern and contemporary take on the traditional two-piece.
Generally speaking, not wearing a belt is also perceived as smarter. Cast your minds to black tie events, the pinnacle of formality in menswear and there isn't a belt in sight.
By that admission, we would be firmly in the "no belt" camp.
So which do we prefer, to wear a belt or not?
The case for and against wearing a belt both have strong points and it would be easy to choose either.
Personally, I believe that formal outfits look better when you lose the belt. When a belt is worn with suit trousers they cinch in the waist and ruin the overall drape of the trouser. Taking inspiration from some of the most stylish men on the internet, more often than not they are wearing without a belt.
When buying suit trousers, search for those with adjusters instead of loops. This doesn't mean you have to head down to Savile Row to get a handmade suit. New, less traditional suit brands like Suit Supply have a varied choice of trousers with side adjusters.
So, for added sartorial flair, ditch the belt.