Although I consider Elliot Rhodes to be a leader in the field of belt design this does not preclude me from appreciating good design and products created by others.
A great case in point is the ubiquitous Argentinian ‘Polo’ Belt which I see wrapped around the waist of many men around London (and no doubt in other counties & countries too!). The design with its diamond style hand stitching is timeless and coming as it does in a variety of thread combinations it clearly offers something for everyone. Paired with jeans or shorts a belt like this certainly has a place in anyone’s wardrobe (and of course if you are playing Polo too!).
I think you can feel a BUT coming on here. Yes, there is one, BUT it has nothing to do with the design itself. My issue is rather with many of the people who wear these belts…not the people themselves of course as I am sure they are all very nice indeed, but more about when and where they wear these belts.
ALL the time…with EVERY outfit!
Something like this on jeans looks good...with a suit? Not so much...
I have 2 major issues to address:
1) No one belt style can work for every occasion
2) No one belt colour can work for every occasion
No one belt style can work for every occasion
Belt style is all about choosing both the right width, texture and quality of leather.
Getting the right width of belt to suit a particular trouser is very important – a little thinner (30-35mm) for a smarter trouser or wider (40mm) for a casual/smart casual trouser.
Texture is very important – a light texture whether grain or printed is ideal for a smarter look whereas something with a more pronounced texture is better for more casual situations.
Quality of leather is about the finish and look – for smarter occasions a leather with a finer grain is elegant and timeless, smooth hand burnished leathers are also perfect. Leathers with a heavier grain, texture and also thickness are inherently more casual. Lined or unlined are both good, the former a bit sleeker, the latter definitely for a casual look only.
So going back to the Polo belts – these are made of a heavy unlined leather and along with the texture provided by the handstitch they fall uniquely into casual territory. So, great with jeans and shorts if your look is low key and relaxed and you want to go for a slightly more ‘rural’ look. If you want to smarten things up at all, then these belts are not quite right – they are just not sleek or sophisticated enough.
No one belt colour can work for every occasion
Polo belts come in brown…or brown…or brown.
Nothing against brown belts but clearly with a whole host of colours in the rainbow brown is not always the answer!
The key to what we do at Elliot Rhodes is offering colour and showing our customers how to use these different colours to create stylish looks. When we started out back in 2004 our mission was to upend the traditional belt market with its lazy focus on black and brown.
So, when you wear jeans why not wear a blue belt to tonally match? If you are wearing black jeans how about a grey belt instead of just black to add some tonal contrast? Wearing tan shoes? Then a tan belt is the correct choice, brown will not cut it. Wearing white trainers? Try a white or off-white belt tone for a sporty look.
Using your belt as a colour vehicle allows you to match up with different aspects of your outfit. You can match trousers and shoes but if you are wearing a shirt with some wine tones in it – try using a burgundy belt. Green sweater? How about a rich toned green belt. Wearing a T shirt with a bit or orange in it? Then let’s go with an orange belt.
I could go on, but you get the idea.
We see belts as the ideal way to express your own individual sense of style and personality. Creating your own belts by choosing your leather and buckle leaves you with a style that is all your own. In the end wearing a belt that a lot of other people are also wearing will never really give you that sense of ‘Uniqueness’…
So next time you grab your Argentinian Gaucho belt – think twice – is it the right belt for the occasion? Is it the right colour? Will it enhance the outfit I am wearing? Will it make me look unique?