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 a looser fit trouser, 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 of a belt as a functioning accessory.

You no doubt have a few belts in your collection but should they be kept clear of a formal suited look? We take a look at both sides of the argument before stating our case.

Wear A Belt With Your Suit

The majority of trousers sold all come with belt loops. Which means, that if you don’t add a belt, it can become noticeable. It might even look like you have a slightly incomplete outfit if you choose not to wear a belt.

Weight fluctuates and as a result, your waistline might grow or reduce. If it is the latter then a belt will help to keep your trousers at the optimum height for the outfit to look its best.

men all wearing a belt with their suit

Considering the above, don’t make do with any old belt. If you want to look your best you need to invest in a belt that compliments the outfit. A leather dress belt is thinner than one you would pair with jeans for example. It will have a metal buckle and aligns nicely with the smarter more presentable look you are going for with a suit.

If you are in the market for buying a belt then try to line your choices up with the outfits you are more likely to wear them with. That means a smarter, thinner leather belt for formal attire and casual thicker belt for more relaxed outfits.

Lastly, if you are a stickler for the rules (and menswear is full of rules), then to a lot of men a key ritual to follow is wearing a belt with their suit. To these guys, it is a default accessory when choosing to wear a formal outfit. Obviously, rules are there to be bent or even broken and we have found as our tastes for men’s clothing has changed so has our need to stick rigidly to the rules.

Don’t Wear A Belt With Your Suit

Ever seen a pair of trousers made by a tailor? They won’t have belt loops on them. Typically fitted with side adjusters they will allow for some movement. The overall construction of the trouser follows the natural shape of the wearer due to being made to their exact measurements and sits 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 wear braces to stop the trousers from sagging down.

street style men not wearing belt with a suit

Now, we aren’t saying all you men have a wardrobe of tailored suits to choose from. But, side adjustors 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 perceived as smarter. Cast your minds to black tie events, the pinnacle of formality for menswear and there isn’t a belt in sight.

So which do we prefer, to wear a belt or not?

Conclusion

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.

Sam Brady

Sam Brady is a menswear and grooming specialist and the founder of A Gentleman's Row.

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