When you let it all hang out on your par-5 drives, the last thing you want is that day’s belt to let loose and let it all hang out as well.
But belts are more than waist cinchers these days, as both professionals and amateurs are using the accessory to complement and pull a wardrobe together.
“Belts can be used to make a style statement, create a clear distinction as a sight line between your top and bottom half, add a personal touch to formal wear, tie a casual outfit together and a lot more,” said Thomas Bates, president of TB Phelps, a shoes and accessories company that pulls from the past to create current fashionable styles.
At the core of casual and formal belts are natural fabrics that have stood the test of time.
“It will pay off to get the best you can afford, and, while there are some good polyester belts out there these days, looking and feeling sharp more often comes from natural materials,” Bates said. “Genuine leather is always a good way to go. Bison, an exotic animal since it is only found in North America, produce belts that are wonderfully soft. Another distinguished animal is the American elk, which has the fine feel of deer only stronger and heavier.”
Gary Baldwin, national sales manager for golf at PGA Tour licensee Gem Dandy, agrees about the value of leather but cites other trends as well.
“Certainly leather is the classic, but belts using silicone are also quite popular among golfers,” he said. “Stretch material like elastic sells well, too.”
Working from the rule that belt and shoe tones should sync, and that black and brown remain standards, different shades and colors are gaining in popularity.
“White is still viable (and) gray is trending as the new black,” Baldwin said. “What we’re also seeing is a mix of shades in black, brown and white base colors.”
There are technical designs in play as well. One is reducing the heft of buckles, making it lighter at the belly; another is the one-size-fits-all belt where a ratchet mechanism tightens the belt a little at a time, making it popular for wearers whose weight might fluctuate. In general, a belt should improve what you’re wearing without stealing the limelight.
“You can express your personality and be more experimental with your casual belt, but with your formal belt – the one you’ll wear with tailored pants and suits – those should be completely understated, “Bates said. “The idea is that you want your formal belt to discreetly finish off your suit and play a supporting role to whatever you’re wearing. To that end, I’m a natural fabric guy, and a fine leather belt in black or brown contributes best to a well-coordinated look.”
Of course, when all is said and done, your belt has to fit to work properly and be adaptable enough to wear with several outfits.
“Take a good look in the mirror and make sure you have the right size,” Bates said. “It’s not enough to say, ‘I’m a 36.’ Remember, the pants don’t change size; it mostly comes from an expanding belly. Get a comfortable fit and don’t forget to harmonize with your footwear.”
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