The 2 “Rules” You Need to Know About Matching Belts

Belts might be the single most common style accessory for men. They're practical, functional and, well, pretty much essential.

But are you wearing them properly? Here's how to match your belt with your shoes (and other accessories).

Anson Belt and Buckle logoNote: Big thanks to Anson Belt for supporting The Modest Man and sponsoring this post! Read my Anson Belt review to learn more about their brand and products, or go check out their online shop to see their latest collection of micro-adjustable belts.

The “rules” around wearing belts are like a lot of other menswear rules – pretty strict and kind of outdated.

Anson belts

That said, there are a couple of guidelines you should follow when you can. In other words, you don't have to buy a belt to match every single pair of shoes you own.

If you have one pair of blue suede shoes, you don't need a blue suede belt to wear with them. You can go with a black or grey belt instead, for example.

With that in mind, here are the two things to remember when choosing the right belt:

  1. Match your leathers
  2. Match your metals

Let's look at each guideline in greater detail.

Match Your Leathers

At the most basic level, you'll want to wear the same color leather throughout your entire outfit.

I'm talking about your shoes, belt, watch strap and any other leather accessories you choose to wear (like a bracelet).

Tan and gunmetal or gold

With Anson belts, it's easy to swap out the buckle to match your watch.

So, if you're wearing brown leather boots, you'll want to wear a brown leather belt. It doesn't have to be the exact same color, but it should be brown. You typically (not always) want to avoid mixing brown and black leather in the same outfit.

If you're wearing black Oxfords, you'll want to wear a black leather belt.

Black and black or silver

Again, it doesn't have to be an exact match, but bonus points if it's close (for example, patent leather shoes look good with a belt that has some sheen to it).

Match Your Metals

Just like with leather, it's a good idea to coordinate the metal details throughout your outfit.

For example, if you're wearing a watch with a silver metal bracelet, a belt with a silver metal buckle will look great.

Brown and silver or gold

Don't worry too much about the different shades of brown. Sure, it's great if you have a reddish brown belt to go with your burgundy wingtips, but it's not the end of the world if you have to pair them with a regular old brown leather belt.

What About Other Colors?

Of course, we're not just dealing with black/brown/silver/gold. Belts, watches and other accessories come in all sorts of different colors, including navy, olive, grey and gunmetal.

The great thing about these not-as-traditional colors is that they're even easier to match. Various shades of blue, grey and black all go very well together, so you can mix and match them any way you like.

Blue and gunmetal or black

I actually find myself wearing blue or grey shoes quite often these days, so I love mixing and matching black, grey, navy and gunmetal accessories.

For example: a watch with a navy strap strap and gunmetal case, paired with midnight suede chukkas and a grey canvas belt…

Perfection.

Final Thoughts

Always try to match your belt to your shoes, but don't overthink it, and don't worry if the match isn't perfect.

Similarly, try to match your metal accessories, but don't be afraid to mix in some different colors and materials every now and then.

Thanks again to Anson Belts for sponsoring this post and making it easy to craft the perfect belt for any outfit!

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Comments

  1. What about matching any metals on the shoes with belt buckles or watch straps?

    • Same rule applies: the safe bet is to stick with one color (e.g., gold or silver). But it’s not a strict rule. You can definitely mix metals, just be aware of it and make sure it’s intentional and looks good to you.

  2. Calvin Meyers says:

    Well I didn’t think the watch had to match but I see your point. Know any good dress watches with interchangeable straps? Can’t really buy a watch for just the strap color.

    • It’s not a deal breaker if it doesn’t match, but the good news is that most watches have interchangeable straps. Some are just easier to change than others.

  3. Is there “a rule” for matching belts shoes that have two colors ie saddle shoes. Do you match the dominant color or the lesser color

  4. I’ll be honest, the belt system is a great idea and works very well but the thing that lets these down is the buckle. Ashley Weston covered this problem pretty well in her videos. The buckles NEED to resemble more traditional, elegant (thinner) and simplified hole belt buckles. I’ve purchased one of Ansons systems a while back and I honestly regret it as it looks so out of place in my outfits compared to my other leather hole belts. They tend to be chunky and clunky. I don’t want a belt that draws attention to my belt; I need it to be subtle and disappear into my attire.

    • Agreed that a lower profile buckle would be ideal for more formal outfits. I don’t mind the current buckles for casual outfits. I’m not supposed to say anything about this, but word on the street is that Anson might be working on a 1″ belt (smaller strap, smaller buckle), which would be awesome for dressier getups and shorter men.

      One thing I didn’t understand about Ashley’s comments were that she seemed to like the Trakline belts, which have buckles that look similar or even more bulky/non-traditional than those on Anson belts. Did you see that review?

      I agree with her overall sentiments, but I don’t see why she would pass on Anson in favor of Trackline.

  5. Dennis O'Connor says:

    I have been wearing belts my whole life and never particularly noticed excessive wear unless the belt was very old. The surface of the leather in these belts wears off rapidly and leaves a raw unfinished area on the belt from what ever wear occurs from normal activity. It shows mostly on the area that is under the open buckle style. Very unsightly.

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