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What Belt Size To Buy? (Men’s Style Guide)

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A belt is a core component to any man’s wardrobe. You pretty much wear a belt with everything, from jeans and chinos to dress pants and even suits.

This guide will cover what size of belt to buy, the difference between casual and dress belts as well as how to wear them.

How are men’s belts sized?

Generally speaking, your belt size is 2 sizes larger than the waist size of your pants. In other words, if you wear jeans in a size 32 waist, then your belt size is probably 34.

Belt too small. Notice it fits in the very first hole.

However, this is not always the case because you might find that not all your jeans, khakis and dress pants have the same labeled waist size. For example , I wear a 29 waist in jeans but a 30 to 31 inch waist in dress pants. So what belt size should I get, 32 or 34?

Also, not all belt brands use the same size charts of measurements. This is why it is best to try on belts physically and with the same pants or jeans that you plan on wearing with the belt.

How are belt sizes measured?

Most men’s belts have 5 holes. The ideal fitting belt will ensure that the belt prong goes through the 3rd hole which is the middle hole. This is the perfect fit.

It’s okay to use the 2nd hole if you’ve lost some weight or the 4th hole if you’ve had a heavy dinner. But stick to the middle 3 holes. If you’re using the last or the first hole then the belt is either too big or too small for you.

An easy way to measure a belt is to lay it down flat and measure flush from the start of the belt (leather portion NOT including buckle) to the middle hole which is the 3rd one. Whatever inch measurement you get will be the size of the belt.

Difference between casual and dress belts

Men’s casual and dress belts are sized the same way. In other words, if you wear a size 34 in a dress belt, then you probably will wear the same size 34 in a casual belt.

The main difference between a casual and dress belt has to do with the width of the belt and the style of the buckle.

A dress belt is usually 1.25 to 1.5 inches wide.

A casual belt on the other hand is typically 1.75 to 2 inches wide.

Belts that are around 1.5 inches can be worn casually or formally depending on the style of the buckle.

Dress Belts

A dress belt is slimmer than a casual belt and measures in at around 1.25 to 1.5 inches wide.

Dress belts have a simple prong buckle which is the most classic and formal buckle option. The buckles itself is also slimmer which makes it more dressy.

Black and dark brown leather belts are the most formal and classic. Belts made in suede can also be considered dress belts.

Simply put, the simpler the buckle design, the more dressy the belt.

Dress belts should only be worn with formal and business casual attire.

Casual Belts

Casual belts will feature larger buckles as well as those with unique designs and colors.
Buckles with elaborate designs and thicker hardware are more casual.

Casual belts can be divided into casual leather belts and non-leather belts.

Casual leather belts will be wider at around 1.5 to 2 inches wide and have a more substantial buckle design and typically feature a more rugged leather. These casual leather belts look great with jeans and boots. But I would avoid wearing them with a suit or even business casual attire.

Belts that are made from a material other than leather are inherently casual and should not be worn with business casual or formal attire. Such materials include fabric and canvas belts.

Fabric and canvas belts look best with the most casual of outfits. For example, if you’re going to the beach, there’s no point in wearing a high quality leather belt because it could get stained or wet. Instead, go for a canvas or fabric belt which will pair really well with shorts, a collared shirt (or t-shirt) and boat shoes.

Personally, I don’t like wearing fabric and canvas belts with jeans or chinos. Instead I just go for a casual leather belt for these outfits.


I hope you enjoyed this article on men’s belts. We covered how to size a belt, the difference between casual and dress belts as well as how to wear them.