I’m a strong advocate for quality over quantity—I’ll take a premium full-grain leather belt over 10 synthetic belts any day.
Let me tell you why:
- A real leather belt is impressively durable, thanks to its thicker and more intact fiber structure.
- A quality leather belt will develop a unique, rich patina as it ages, making it more attractive.
- A full grain leather belt has several aerating pores within its fibers, providing room for ventilation.
And there’s just some magic that happens when you match a leather belt with your shoes.
The truth is, matching your belts and shoes is a sartorial rule that holds an incredible amount of power in your overall style, even though it’s somehow been forgotten.
A complementary leather belt and shoe combination is what will separate your elegance and sophistication from everyone else.
Don’t let the idea of sartorial rules put you off; the concept is actually simpler to master than it might seem.
With this guide in mind, and a little bit of confidence in yourself, you’ll be ready to take the fashion world by storm.
table of contents
1 - Match Your Leathers as Closely as Possible
The first rule of belt styling is that leathers must match leathers.
If both your shoes and belt are made of leather, they need to match in color as closely as possible. The more they contrast, the less stylish you’re going to look.
If you have a black leather belt, the most logical shoe color to go with is black. The same goes for a brown belt with brown shoes.
However, brown comes in different shades and tones, including sand, dark brown, tan, and medium brown. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the two accessories must have the exact same shade or tone.
Staying within the same color family will still get the job done, just be sure not to go more than two shades darker or lighter.
Likewise, if you have a two-toned leather shoe (say medium brown), the trick would be to identify the dominant color and use that as your belt color.
You might also be wondering about leather shoes with unique colors, such as white, blue, and burgundy. Should they be paired with a similarly colored leather belt?
This is the one time you’re exempted from the rule of matching leather colors.
You don’t need to buy a belt for every shoe color you have. Rather, choose a belt that complements the color of your shoes for a uniform look.
The table below showcases some of my favorite leather shoe/belt combinations.
|Color Of Leather Shoe||Complementing Leather Belt Color|
|Blue||Brown (especially tan), but consider the color of your entire outfit. If you have a black and white outfit with blue shoes, a black belt is most appropriate|
|White||Any belt color, but match it to your overall outfit|
|Gray||Brown, black, or other colorful belts (red and green), depending on your outfit|
2 - Consider The Occasion
How you match your leather belt and shoes will also depend on the occasion at hand.
If the occasion calls for a formal outfit, say a suit and a tie, the rules of matching leathers will still apply.
Just like you wouldn’t wear a brown suit with black shoes, brown shoes should be matched with a brown leather belt, not a black one.
However, dressing for a casual occasion provides much more versatility.
Casual shoes, like sneakers and loafers, can be paired with a leather belt to provide a bold, eye-catching look or a subtle, subdued look, depending on your personal style.
Ideally, keep these three dressing guidelines in mind when wearing a leather belt to a casual event:
- For any casual dress, match your leather belt to your outfit as a whole, not necessarily your shoes.
- Any shoe or outfit leaning towards a black and white spectrum (such as black, white, or gray) will blend perfectly with a black leather belt.
- A shoe or outfit with darker or more vibrant tones (such as navy blue or dark purple) or warm, earthy tones (think mustard, burgundy, or tan) will go well with a brown leather belt.
Although casual dress is a bit lenient when it comes to matching colors, there’s still a rule you should always stick to—never clash the colors of your belt and shoes.
You still want to achieve balance with your outfit, so keep the materials and colors relatively simple, unless you’re looking to make a statement with your belt.
Expert Tip: Leather belts are mostly associated with formal dress, but did you know that there are leather belts made specifically for casual wear?
Check out the differences between the two leather types in the table below:
|Dress (Formal) Leather Belt||Casual Leather Belt|
|An inch or an inch and a half thick||Often broader, typically one and a half inches wide or more|
|Has a simple and discreet buckle||Comes with buckles of all shapes and sizes that are often interchangeable|
|Usually has a shiny and sleek appearance||Normally looks matte and rugged|
Fortunately, you don’t need to buy both leather belts if you can get one that works on both occasions.
Popov Leather Belts are one and a half inches wide—the perfect thickness for the loops of dress pants and jeans alike.
Their sturdy buckles are simple enough to appear subdued in a formal outfit but also elegant enough to make a statement when rocking jeans and a plain tee.
3 - Ensure Your Metals Match
Enough with the colors; let’s get to the material. One of the major parts of a leather belt is the buckle; the piece of metal attached to one end of the belt that’s used to fasten it.
If you’re pairing your leather belt with a shoe that has a buckle, ensure that the metals match perfectly.
Any metal components featured on your leather belt or shoe must be the same, or as close to the same as is possible.
This means that if you have a belt made with a brass buckle, ensure your shoe’s buckle is made of brass too. This rule applies to all metals, including silver, stainless steel, and zinc alloy.
Virtually any metal can be used to make a belt buckle, but some choices are more superior than others because of their malleability, versatility, and durability.
If you want to invest in a belt made with the highest quality metal, consider one with a buckle made from one of the metals in the table below.
|Type Of Belt Buckle Material||Features|
All the leather belts made at Popov Leather are finished with a sturdy brass buckle that will increase the belts’ durability and ensure they age beautifully.
Take your styling one step further by matching the buckle to your other metal accessories, including your cufflinks, bracelet, lapel pin, or even your watch.
These details are so small, but they’re a big deal in the overall aesthetic of an outfit.
Luckily, the rules are simple and easy to follow; if you’re wearing brass, then stick to brass; if you’re wearing gold, stick to gold and so on …
Match Your Shoes With Full-Grain Leather Belts
Matching your shoes and belt is a way to exude elegance and sophistication. And while style is important, investing in quality accessories is even more crucial.
When it comes to quality, full-grain leather belts are your best bet. They’re durable, timeless, stylish, and versatile accessories that go well with almost every outfit.
At Popov Leather, we believe in quality over quantity, which is why we go above and beyond to ensure every piece you purchase from us is of the highest quality and can be passed down to the next generation.
"This is the best belt I ever wore. Top notch leather and well build. Looks like I will pass this to my children … "
All our leather belts are handmade with love by our skilled workers and carefully stitched using Tiger thread to ensure they never unravel, no matter how regularly you wear them.
When you invest in any of our leather belts, you can be confident that you’re getting a piece that will last you for years.
Browse our entire leather belt collection to find the best option for you. Our belts come in five stunning colors—Black, English Tan, Heritage Brown, Olive, and Natural—to suit every buyer’s needs.
Written by Ryan Popoff
Ryan Popoff is the creative mind behind Popov Leather wallets, iPhone cases, belts, watch bands and journals since 2013. With a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts, my leatherworking journey began at home. I wanted to create a simple leather wallet that could fit into my front pocket and — to my delight — it was a hit with family and friends. Hopefully you love our honest, quality leather goods too! Reach out with questions.