The 8 Best Belts of 2019
Functional accessories that don't skimp on style
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In the pantheon of modern business attire, belts are an often-overlooked accessory, merely seen as something to match your shoes or keep your pants from falling down. These belts change all that. From multifunctional designs that hide a host of tiny tools to athlete-friendly alternatives that offer some much-needed stretch, today’s best belts deliver both the sartorial flair you want and the utility you need.
As with any piece of functional fashion, choosing the right belt will largely depend on your own personal taste. Do you want a bold accessory, or more traditional colors and fabrics? Do you lean towards canvas or leather? Climate and your daily routine also matter. Fabric belts with simple closures are best for warmer temperatures, while thicker leather models are ideal for fall, winter and early spring. If you’re an active person, consider a belt that would work well in variable conditions — the same belt you wear in the boardroom can also work when you’re hitting the slopes or taking a hike after the long slog of a business trip.
And as a final note, don't forget to take into account the size of your belt loops, especially if you're investing in one of the pricier options. You don't want to get stuck with a new purchase that doesn't fit your suit pants.
With these things in mind, read on to see the best belts to buy today.
The craftsmen at Tanner Goods have created an instant classic. Made from 10-11 ounce vegetable-tanned Meridian English Bridle leather, the Standard is the new "do-anything" belt. Its edges are dyed, burnished and waxed by hand, then fitted with a stainless hardware buckle and rivets. The luxurious, high-quality leather ages gracefully over the years, and will stretch about half a size within the first few months. Better still, each belt is custom-made based on your waist size and your sartorial preferences: choose from a variety of leather dyes (cognac, black, or natural) and metal colors (black, silver, or copper). Visit their store in Portland, Oregon and they’ll assemble your custom belt right before your eyes. The thickness of the leather and the overall craftsmanship makes it feel like the belt you’ve always wanted.
The Merano belt from Fjallraven boasts both utility and an approachable price tag. It also comes in a variety of colors (olive, dark gray, deep blue, deep red and more) you can go low-key or loud. The swing buckle secures the acrylic/poly fabric with a standard tooth latch, and the metal tip on the end helps guide the belt through the loops and the clasp. It’s lightweight, slightly flexible and leans toward a slight military aesthetic. The Merano won't last a lifetime, but it performs admirably in a variety of conditions, from biking and hiking to the boardroom.
Designed for outdoor aficionados that might need to make repairs on the fly, the 686 Original Toolbelt incorporates a host of tools within the belt. The twin forks on the buckle work as screwdrivers (both Philips head and regular), with a bottle opener on the buckle and 8/10/11 mm wrench loops integrated into the brushed metal surface. This leather belt comes in both brown and black, with the option of black or antique brass finishes and four different size options. If you're tired of your belt only have one purpose (or if you think these tiny tools might come in handy), the 686 Original Toolbelt may be the choice for you.
This narrow leather belt feels at home on the French Riviera as much as it does in the office. Unassuming at first glance, this black belt from Paul Smith takes a classic leather strap and adds a welcome splash of color with horizontal stripes running the height of the loop. It's subtle and a little playful, but still undeniably professional. The high-quality leather has a bright inner lining and classic silver hardware, plus enough effortless style to take you from the office to a night on the town.
Created by a company that makes some of the most iconic, made-in-America leather boots, the Red Wing Heritage Belt is crafted from 8-9 ounce chrome- or vegetable-tanned leather that retains its natural grain and unique textures. It has hand-burnished edges and solid brass hardware finished in tarnished brass and nickel, made to last in the Red Wing tradition of durable leather goods. This belt comes in four different colors, from black to deep red, and has both full- and half-buckle options. Make sure you like the color you choose because this thing will last a long time.
From San Francisco-based Chrome Industries, this belt does what all belts do in terms of keeping your pants in place. But this brand's cycling heritage and industrial aesthetic give this belt a unique combination of style and function. The military-style buckle comes with Chrome’s now-iconic griffin logo subtly embossed in the metal, and teeth that grip into the 100-percent cotton webbing so you can adjust it for any fit. This belt comes in two colors: black, and a nice military-inspired olive with a leather tab at one end. It measures out to 53 inches and can easily be cut down to size. Just heat up the wax that's infused in the cotton (to prevent fraying) and reattach the buckle.
Constructed from Latigo leather—a material revered in the equestrian world for its longevity—this braided belt from Orvis merges holiday, sport, and professional style. The braid construction means you’re not constricted by standard belt holes; just feed the zinc buckle’s prong through the weave wherever fits best. Sizes break down to even numbers to align with your waist, but the versatility of the belt allows for custom fit regardless of the belt’s overall length. A belt you can wear just about anywhere, and at just about any size? That seems like something we should all have.
Incorporating elastic stretch webbing into a belt might feel like a counterintuitive design for something that’s supposed to keep your pants in place. But Arcade’s Adventure Belts are designed with movement in mind. This low-profile belt provides just enough stretch for higher-octane activities like biking or running without sacrificing support. The entire belt is machine-washable (so you don’t even have to take the belt off when you launder your pants), and the all-plastic buckle means you can wear it through airport security.
With a price that hovers just under $200, this belt definitely qualifies as an investment piece. But you get what you pay for — Detroit-based Shinola has branched out from making high-quality timepieces to create a wide range of leather products that are classically styled and made to last. This belt is on the thinner side and is made from soft calfskin leather with a rich, pebbled texture. No detail is overlooked, from the beveled stitching to the polished metal buckle. It has both black and bourbon color options and comes in a variety of even-sized waist sizes. Just order one up from your typical pants size to assure an optimal fit.