How Many Belts Does A Man Need? (Answering All Your Questions About Men’s Belts)

by Barron Cuadro  |  in Accessories

Thanks to Anson Belt for sponsoring this article, and to you, my readers, for supporting the brands that make EG possible.

Belts are an essential accessory and useful addition to any man’s wardrobe. Sure, they not only keep your pants up, but they can also add a touch of style to your outfit. But how many belts does a man need, honestly?

I hear this question (plus a few others) quite a bit, so I figured I’d dedicate an article to answering your most common men’s belt-related questions.

(By the way, hit us up on Instagram DMs with any other questions about men’s belts and I’ll add and answer the ones I hear most!)

How Many Belts Does a Man Need?

A man needs at least two belts: One black leather belt, and one medium brown leather belt.

Ultimately, it will depend on how you dress day to day. To maximize versatility, the two belts shouldn’t be too formal, nor too casual, so you can wear them for a majority of occasions.

how many belts does a man need? not this many.
WAAAY more belts than one man actually needs.

If you have a smart casual wardrobe and want to cover (most of) your bases, go with belts that match the smart casual look:

  • Nothing too casual, like large buckles, distressed leather, or wide straps
  • Nothing too formal, like a narrow width, or a shiny polished finish on the leather or the buckle

You want something that is somewhere in the middle of the formality spectrum, and leaning slightly more formal is totally fine.

And if you want to have a bit more flexibility, you can add in a third belt to your collection. I’d go with a cognac / tan leather color, or a grey canvas belt. I’ve found that both my tan leather belt and grey canvas belt go with plenty of casual outfits, so I gravitate towards those the most.

how many belts does a man need? just this one, really. a medium brown leather belt
Example of a medium brown leather belt. You can easily wear shoes that are slightly darker or lighter, and this color belt will work just fine.

How about just one belt? Well, if you want the absolute minimum, I would suggest a medium brown belt. This should match closely enough with most of your boots and leather shoes, and it works just fine with sneakers.

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In addition to your standard leather and canvas straps, Anson also has a high-end premier collection with real crocodile and italian calfskin options. Same holeless, micro-adjustability (30 different size options, so you’ll always have your correct belt size), same interchangeability with different buckles, same lifetime guarantee.

So if you’re over traditional belts that never fit perfectly, get your very own custom-fitting belts in the Anson Belt box set.

What color belts should a man have?

Men should have, at the very least, one black leather belt and one medium brown leather belt. These are the most versatile color belts to own. Ultimately, this depends on which color shoes you wear more often.

If you wear mostly black shoes and boots, you should have a black belt.

Do you mostly wear different brown leather shoes and boots? Then go with a brown belt. I suggest a medium brown leather because it’s also a very common shoe color. And when you wear shoes that are a slightly lighter or darker shade of brown, your medium brown belt should suffice.

All 3 of my belts are from Anson (and they all go well with my Chuck 70s).

If you wear mostly sneakers, or shoes that aren’t black or brown leather, you have more flexibility in terms of the best color belts to have. My go-to belts that aren’t black or brown are a grey canvas belt and a saddle tan leather belt.

Should Men’s Belts Match Their Shoes?

Short answer: Yes, a man should match his shoes to his belt.

Longer, more nuanced answer: Getting “close enough” when matching leather colors is just fine. It doesn’t have to match exactly. And beyond that, sometimes it’s better to coordinate your belt with your outfit instead of trying to match it to your shoes.

If you’re wearing a pair of black shoes, go with a black leather belt. If you’re wearing a pair of brown shoes, brown leather belt. In terms of shade of brown, close enough is good enough.

I’ve collected a number of belts over the years, but you certainly don’t need this many. One black belt and one medium brown belt will cover you 99% of the time.

Wearing white shoes, or a sneaker with multiple colors? Coordinate with your outfit. What belt color would look best with the outfit overall, brown or black? Go with that one.

Is it OK to wear a black belt with brown shoes?

Generally, if you’re wearing brown shoes, you should wear a brown belt. Wearing a black belt with brown shoes just looks wrong.

This feels really awkward. Please don’t wear this combo unless absolutely necessary (e.g. your pants will fall down)

Of course, if it’s a dire situation—you have no other belt, and if you don’t wear it, your pants will fall down—wear the black belt. But if given the choice, stick with a brown belt when wearing brown shoes.

And as I mentioned above, it doesn’t have to be an exact match brown… just do the best you can, getting as close as possible. Your belt and your shoes are far enough apart that it’s not super obvious if they don’t match exactly.

Should your belt match your shoes or your shirt?

If you’re wearing black or brown shoes, it’s best to match your belt to your shoes. But if you’re wearing any other color shoes, like white sneakers, navy espadrilles, or military green loafers, your belt can match your shirt. More accurately, you’ll want to coordinate with your overall outfit. You don’t have to wear a matching belt.

In those cases—white, navy, or military green shoes—and most other shoe colors, coordinate your belt to your outfit.

And if you don’t even wanna think that long about it… just wear your medium brown leather belt. It’ll match just fine, trust me.

How Are Men’s Belts Sized?

Most men’s belts are sized based on the waist measurement in inches. However, some brands might have their own sizing system, so it’s always good to double check if you aren’t sure.

And somewhat related to sizing: Consider the width of the belt. Dress belts are usually narrower (1-1.25”), while casual belts are wider (1.5”+). It’s important to choose the right belt width based on the occasion and outfit.

What Sizes Do Men’s Belts Come In?

Belts come in different sizes, typically ranging from 28 inches to 44 inches.

Logically, you would think that if you’re a size 32 in pants, for example, you’d buy a size 32 belt. But I’ve noticed from experience that I always need to go up one size for belts. So if you’re a 32, buy a size 34 belt.

This is where a belt from Anson comes in clutch, because you don’t have to worry about sizing. Whether you’re an in-between size like 33 or 35, or you’re smaller than a 28” waist, or bigger than a 44” waist, Anson Belt will accommodate you.

Anson Belt micradjust technology underside of belt
This track allows you to adjust your belt size 1/4″ at a time, up to 30 different sizes. Way better than your standard 5-hole option.

Their straps are one size fits all, and you trim them down to your exact size. Not only that, but because of the belts’ micro-adjustability, you can easily shift the size up or down in 1/4” increments, whatever’s most comfortable for you.

Anyway, if you’re looking at traditional, basic belts, my rule of thumb is to buy one size up from my waist size. By the way, some brands may have their own sizing system, so always check the size chart before purchasing. (Or just make your life easier and go with an Anson belt.)

When should men not wear a belt?

Generally, you should not wear a belt if:

  • Your pants fit well at the waist and can stay up without having to constantly pull them up
  • You’re wearing suspenders (it’s one or the other, never both)
  • You’re not wearing pants at all

While there are no hard and fast rules when men should or should not wear a belt, it would make sense to forgo the belt if you find yourself in the above situations.

Are braided belts out of style?

Braided belts are actually very much in style right now. But much like jeans and T-shirts, braided belts have been around for a while. And though their popularity has waxed and waned throughout the decades, you’ll never be tragically out of style by incorporating it in your wardrobe. It’s a classic.

What Way Do Men’s Belts Go: Left or Right?

Here’s a question that doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all answer! There is no one correct way a belt goes. I’d argue it depends on which hand is dominant.

  • If you’re right-handed, your belt should go to the left (counter-clockwise), meaning you’re using your right hand to insert the end of the belt into the first loop to the left of the button
  • And if you’re left-handed, it should go to the right (clockwise), so you’d be using your left hand to insert the end of the belt into the first loop to the right of the button

So, why does this matter? Wearing your belt in the direction that corresponds with your dominant hand makes it easier to take on / off or adjust as needed. It’s a small but practical consideration that can make all the difference in your comfort level.

Most belts are designed to work for left-handed or right-handed people, so there’s no incorrect way to put it on. The one exception would be if you had a unique buckle in which the design has a top and bottom. In that case, you may be forced to put on your belt in a specific direction, so the design is right side up.

closeup of brown LV belt
A Louis Vuitton logo belt, which, if you wore it the wrong way, would appear upside down. Photo by Erik Mclean.

Did I answer all your questions about men’s belts?

These are the questions (or variations of the questions) I’ve come across most during my 14+ years creating style articles for Effortless Gent. If you have a specific question I haven’t answered, feel free to DM me on Instagram! I can add your question to this article.

Be sure to check out the box set from Anson Belt. Like I mentioned earlier, these are the only belts I’ve worn for the past six or seven years now. They’re incredible. You can get 2 straps and 3 buckles for $99 for a limited time!

Anson Belt Gift Box - Special Deal

Get 3 straps and 2 buckles (or 3 buckles and 2 straps) and for a limited time, select a third buckle or strap for free!

Check Latest Price