While shopping the post-Christmas sales last Saturday I bought a new pair of jeans in a size smaller than I had previously been wearing. I decided that I also needed a new casual belt because my current ones were too long. You can tell that a belt fits properly if you are buckling on the center hole. If you are using a hole towards the middle of the belt then there is a bunch of excess leather wrapping around your hip. You end up looking like a twelve-year-old kid wearing his dad's belt. If you're on the last hole then it looks like you enjoyed too many Christmas parties and packed on about fifteen pounds.
There is no real feasible way to lengthen a belt, but it is possible (at some expense) to shorten a belt. I have had one of my alligator dress belts shortened. A leather craftsman basically removes the excess length from the buckle end and reattaches the buckle. If I recall correctly, that service cost me about thirty-five dollars. If your belt is too long and not worth shortening, or if your belt is too short, then it's time to go shopping.
When buying an off-the-rack belt you should typically look for one that is a size larger than the waist of your pants. For example, if you wear a size 34 pant then a size 36 belt will probably fit. The belt must be a size bigger because it's worn over the pants; the fabric of the trouser adds additional bulk that must be taken into consideration.
While shopping on Saturday I had in mind that I wanted a tan casual belt with edge stitching and a silver buckle. I did not think that was an unreasonable item to locate. After checking at Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, J-Crew, Gap, Abercrombie and Fitch, Dillards, Belk, Macy's, and JCPenney I started having some doubts. Department store Made in China belts are absolutely cheap and awful, and at those stores I couldn't even find a poor quality one that matched my mental image. I came close at Smith & James in Greenville. They had a nice seventy-dollar British tan Bills Khakis belt, but in the end I decided it was a little too orange for my taste.
When I arrived home empty-handed I decided to search online for a purveyor of bespoke belts. I was delighted to discover Leather Goods Connection. They offer a number of leather accessories including bespoke leather belts. You get to choose from a multitude of options including length, width, color, buckle style, and edge treatment. With all the options available, there are over 614,400 different belts that can be made. On Saturday evening I ordered the pictured British tan harness leather belt with wheat-colored edge stitching and a silver buckle. I was stunned when this lovely belt arrived in the mail yesterday. I am amazed to have ordered a bespoke belt the day after Christmas and have it arrive before New Years. More importantly, the belt is exactly what I wanted. It was beautifully handmade, in America. It fits perfectly because it was made to my specifications. And it was only fifty-one dollars.
The next time you need a belt, forget about those cheap and limited department store choices. Consider going bespoke. You won't regret it.