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Matching shoes and belts

It’s one of the first things about dressing well that we learn as young men – a black belt is worn with black shoes and a brown one with brown shoes – always; but what about blue, beige, and the more unusual options that are becoming increasingly popular? Wearing a belt and shoes in matching colours is a basic rule of male elegance but with eye-catching colours, it doesn’t always work so well.

Unless the trousers are in the same colour and therefore, camouflaging the belt and shoes, the combination often results in a look that screams ‘put together with great care’. It’s like walking into a living room where the sofa (cushions included) and curtains are in the same floral fabric. Elegance must seem effortless and a matching belt and shoes, which aren’t black or brown are anything but that.

Another reason for doing away with the rule is that matching shoes and belts, effectively make a person look shorter. This is especially so, when the shoes and belt contrast in colour with the trousers’, as what you’ll end up with, are legs that only appear as long as the distance between the belt and the shoes.

DSCF4858.JPGRather than opting for identical colours, if your shoes are in an unusual colour, go for a belt in a colour that’s as close as possible to that of either the shirt or trousers – depending on whether you want to add or reduce visual height.

Taller men, whose legs tend to be considerably longer than their torso, will achieve a more balanced silhouette with a belt that mirrors the shirt’s colour, as this effectively visually elongates the torso. On the other hand, shorter men should aim for visually longer legs, making a belt in the same colour as the trousers’ the better option.

If it’s your belt that’s the fancy piece, go for shoes in a neutral colour, which blend in as much as possible with the trousers. Here, your outfit’s centrepiece should be your belt.

Final word

As is often the case, rules are never set in stone. With pieces in unusual colours – and in the case of shoes and belts, anything other than black or brown is considered ‘unusual’ – the safest approach is to make these the focal point of your outfit. Consequently, since there can only be one focal point, avoid having more than one piece in an unusual colour.

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Men’s belts

It’s amazing how much that narrow strap of material tied around a man’s waist can add a touch of elegance and style to a look. The belt has been a fundamental element of men’s fashion throughout the ages making it a recognised symbol of masculinity. Consequently, getting the belt right is essential for being well-dressed. Here are the essential factors to consider when choosing a belt.

Length 

A belt should be long enough to finish through the first trouser-loop, with the pointed end just slightly exceeding the loop. If the belt is too long, a quick visit to the cobbler will get it shortened for as little as €2.00.

Proportion 

Men’s belts are usually 3 – 4 cm wide though wider belts are not uncommon. A belt’s width determines the size of the buckle with wider belts requiring larger hence, chunkier buckles. Opt for a width that is proportionate to your height. 

Formal vs. Casual belts 

Combining a belt with an outfit is more than a question of colour – it’s also about style. Formal belts are always made of leather, are monochromatic – usually in black or brown – and with a small and plain buckle. These are the belts one would wear with a suit or a semi-formal outfit.

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Casual belts can be distinguished by their brighter/lighter colours, patterns, and larger buckles. They also come in various materials with suede and leather alternatives being particularly suitable for summer.

 Matching belt and shoes 

That the two should be in the same colour is one of the basic rules of men’s style. However, with modern colours featuring prominently in men’s footwear and belts, the rule needs reconsidering. Generally, if the shoes or belt are in a bright or particularly unique colour, the other should be in a colour that is as close as possible to that of the trousers. In the age of mix-and-match, having both the belt and shoes in the same striking colour will result in a look that seems too coordinated. It will also break up your silhouette, effectively making you look shorter. Sometimes, it’s also better to go for a completely different colour rather than a similar but not identical colour – it indicates that the difference is intentional. 

As a combination, mismatching shoes and belt would work best on a less formal outfit. On a suit, one would normally wear shoes in a dark, neutral colour, which is easier to combine with a matching belt, thus giving a more timeless look.