If someone asks you how many pairs of jeans you have in your closet, you probably can’t honestly answer the question because you really don’t know. Everyone has jeans in their closet and most people have several pairs. You wear them when you’re going out, when you’re staying in, when you’ve got a hot date and when you’re just hanging with some friends. You’ve probably worn them your whole life. But there’s still probably a lot you don’t know about jeans and about styling jeans like a true pro. Should you wear a belt with jeans? What’s the best way and type of belt? It’s time to take your jeans style to the next level and learn how to finish off all your outfits the right way.
Wearing a Belt
As far as wearing a belt, there are some helpful “rules” of fashion you can always follow. There are many of these so-called rules in fashion, such as the one that says you can’t wear white shoes after Labor Day. Well, there are rules revolving around belts, too.
According to the style experts, it’s all pretty simple: if it has belt loops, then wear a belt. This is considered to be a pretty hard rule when it comes to wearing suits and dress pants of any type, as any style expert will cry out that a belt is needed for those woefully naked loops.
Here’s the thing: jeans aren’t dress pants. Most jeans are made with belt loops and most of the time, you don’t need them to be there. When it comes to wearing a belt with jeans, it’s a whole different animal. The rules of fashion, such as they are, don’t really apply to jeans. After all, there’s nothing quite like jeans. So of course, this particular piece of fashion has its own whole set of rules.
How Did Jeans Get Here?
You know that jeans are like no other pants you’ve ever worn. Whether it’s corduroy or leather or spandex, maybe cotton or linen or some fancy expensive wool, there is truly nothing else quite like denim blue jeans. The way they fit, the way they feel, the way they look, even the thickness of the fabric all seem to be somewhat unique. Jeans very much stand apart from other pants. So how did this really unique and strange piece of clothing get here in the first place?
You may know that Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis took out a patent on blue jeans in 1873, thus launching the blue jeans industry in the U.S. and writing fashion history. Jeans have spread all the way around the world and they are truly an iconic piece of fashion. But there’s much more to the story of how jeans got here and all the different things that had to happen before they could exist in the first place. The history of jeans spans the globe and in a way, it all begins with an angry wife, some workers who wanted to save money and a pretty big mistake.
The secret history of blue jeans is that they were made with a fabric that was created by accident. And the fact that denim ended up becoming the end-all, be-all material for jeans? Well, that just kind of happened because some denim was laying around in Levi Strauss’s store.
Origins of Denim
In a way, blue jeans go all the way back to 1567. This is when the word “jeans,” spelled “genes,” was first used. This was used to describe durable pants worn by sailors from Genoa. Their pants weren’t made from denim, which didn’t exist yet. These pants were made with sturdy fabric, a combination of wool and cotton and dyed indigo blue. The pants and the material they were made from were incredibly popular in Italy.
It was popular in France, too. The beloved blue fabric from Italy was highly prized among clothing materials and other people who used textiles. A hub for textile manufacturing of all types, Nimes, France received regular shipments of the cloth from Genoa, Italy.
Until in the late 1600s, a few of the textile makers who regularly received these shipments figured out that maybe, they could save a lot of money if they could stop sending so much of it to Italy. They could make their own blue fabric.
So that’s just what they did. Using indigo dye and soft fibers, along with a specific weaving technique, these textile makers set out to duplicate the popular material they were spending a fortune on importing from Italy. After hours of hard work, they examined the finished material and…realized they had failed.
The popular blue fabric from Italy had not been reproduced after all. The whole experiment had resulted in failure. However, the material they created wasn’t so bad. Upon examining it a little closer, touching the texture, testing the durability, the French textile makers realized they had possibly created something even better than that Italian fabric. They had created “serge de Nimes,” fabric from Nimes. Ultimately, this became known as “denim.”
Turning Denim into Jeans
Those textile makers were onto something. The denim fabric soon spread around Europe and made it all the way to the U.S. Here, it ended up in a San Francisco store owned by retailer Levi Strauss in the late 1800s.
The store was frequented by a tailor in nearby Nevada named Jacob Davis. He supplied clothing, mostly work clothing, to the local population. The local population at the time was made up mostly of miners, ranchers and other hard-working types who needed durable clothing. And as it happens, Davis wasn’t making durable enough clothing.
He got an earful one day from an angry miner’s wife who came into the shop in a snit. She was tired of constantly patching and repairing her husband’s work pants because they took such a beating while he was working in the mines. She told Davis to make better pants.
This is when all these threads began to come together. Davis designed a pair of riveted work pants and he went to Levi Strauss’s store to find the fabric to make them. After a few different designs, the two landed on pants made out of denim and reinforced with copper rivets. The two had created blue jeans and with it, a fashion revolution.
Jeans and Belt Loops
Though belts first appeared in the Bronze Age thousands and thousands of years ago, they had fallen out of fashion in the early 1900s. Suspenders were used to hold pants up most of the time, while belts were really only seen in uniforms. But soldiers returning from WWI found they liked the belts on their military uniforms and began wearing them even with civilian clothing.
The practice became more common and in 1922, Levi’s introduced the first jeans to use belt loops. This was the now-iconic 501 jean. Twenty years later, belt loops were added to jeans as a standard and the belt had become a fashion essential.
But is it still essential? Should you wear a belt with jeans?
Wearing a Belt with Jeans
Jeans have belt loops…does that mean they have to be filled? Let’s look at the facts of jeans and belts.
The way jeans are designed to fit, you should never need a belt. Your jeans should fit your body well and over time, jeans will mold to your body the more you wear them. They will hug your curves and lines and when they fit well, jeans should fit perfectly around your waist without bunching or gapping. This means that a belt is not needed to keep your pants in place, so there is no practical reason to wear one.
Sometimes, wearing a belt with your jeans makes your whole outfit look weird. A belt can add bulk around your waist and ruin the lines of your look. If you’re wearing jeans with a tank top that comes down to about hip-length, for instance, a belt is going to stick out under the fabric and just look ridiculous. Clearly, you want to ditch the belt if it’s going to look bad in any way.
Other times, you’re going to look bad without the belt. If you’re wearing a T-shirt tucked into your jeans, you really need a belt to add that little touch of style and make your outfit look complete.
To Belt or Not to Belt?
When it comes to wearing a belt with your blue jeans, that’s up to you. Choose to wear a belt, or not, depending on how it looks with your outfit. Here’s a good rule to follow: if others can see your belt loops, you should probably wear a belt. If your belt loops are covered by your clothing, you probably don’t need to add a belt.
But once you decide to wear a belt, you’ve got a whole new problem to deal with. What’s the best way and best type of belt to wear with your blue jeans?
Belting Your Jeans
Jeans are casual wear, which means you can wear a huge variety of belts with them. You can wear a wide belt with an ornate belt buckle if you like, something you can’t do in formal wear.
If you want to go with a look that’s classic, more traditional, a leather belt in black or brown won’t do you any wrong. In fact, it’s a good idea to have both. These belts will match beautifully with just about any shoes you want to wear and they look good in casual wear. Feel free to show a little style with the buckle, if you like. With jeans, your belt buckle can be just as ornate and fun as you want.
Create a classic look that’s a little bit more unique by choosing a belt in navy blue. This is a bit of an unexpected choice but still fits with a traditional belt look.
You can always embellish your style with a colorful belt, say something in a bright green or a pretty red. Belts can b made with any material, everything from leather to plastic to fabric and just about anything else you could name. The oldest belts discovered by archaeologists were made from tree bark. Woven and braided belts have become more popular in recent years, which makes many different designs of multicolor belts possible.
Just remember that when you’re wearing a belt that has color in it, you must match the color to something else you’re wearing. Unless you’re using the belt very specifically to create a single pop of color against an otherwise neutral or monochrome outfit, make sure that a color of the belt matches a color that you are actually wearing.
Matching Your Belt and Shoes
Style experts say that you should match your belt to your shoes to get a matched look. When you’re wearing jeans, however, this might not be possible. Suppose you’re wearing all-white sneakers with your jeans. Should you wear a white belt? The answer to that is obviously no because you should never, ever wear a white belt. So what’s the answer?
When you’re wearing jeans, you don’t have to match your belt to your shoes. It helps if your belt does match something you have on. For example, a black belt with a black button-down shirt, or a brown belt with a polo shirt that has brown pinstripes. But if you don’t want to wear a colorful belt or you don’t have something that matches what you’re wearing, you can always go with basic black leather. A black leather belt will look good in pretty much any situation. You can’t go wrong with this classic. You can also wear a tan belt with just about anything, even white sneakers, because it’s neutral.
Should You Wear a Belt With Jeans?
When it comes to wearing a belt with blue jeans, you don’t have to most of the time. Sometimes, your outfit will look much better if you add one. But you shouldn’t be wearing a belt to make your jeans fit better because you should only be wearing jeans that fit. So if you add a belt, do it for the sake of style and to complete your look and not because you’re literally trying to keep your jeans in place. If that’s the case, just put on another pair of jeans. Mix and match your belt style ad play around with belts because this is a great way to introduce color and texture to any outfit. So have fun with it and explore belted jeans fashion.
Wearing blue jeans is probably a little trickier than you realized. There’s a lot of thought that goes into style, plus some rules that aren’t always easy to follow. If you still have questions about jeans and belts and wearing them both together, you’re not alone. Get the answers to the most commonly asked questions about wearing a belt with jeans and get to know more about this style and how to make it work for you.
How should jeans fit?
Jeans are meant to fit close to your body, conforming to your curves. Some jeans are intentionally designed to be baggy, such as boyfriend jeans, but even these jeans should fit well around the waist and hips. How should your jeans fit? They should sit pretty close to your body and remain comfortable even as you twist, bend, sit and move around. The jeans should fit around your waist without bunching or gapping. They should fit through the hips and rear end without being restrictive but also without being too roomy. The length of your jeans should end right at your ankle. Much shorter or longer and the first just isn’t right.
In time, jeans will conform to your body and cling to your curves in a friendly way. However, this will only happen if your jeans fit pretty well to begin with. Don’t count on time to make a pair of ill-fitting jeans fit well. Only wear jeans that fit you. Otherwise, your jeans are not going to be flattering on your body.
Where should jeans sit on your waist?
Jeans are designed to rise to all different points of the waist, so it’s not always easy to know where jeans should fit on your body. There are so many different fits to choose from! As a general rule, high-rise jeans will be a couple of inches above your belly button. Mid-rise jeans are made to fit right around the center of your waist, at or very near the belly button. Low-rise jeans may be several inches below your belly button. Remember that no matter where they sit, jeans should fit smoothly around your body without bunching or gapping. They should fit close and comfortably, with enough space to give you some moving room.
Are belt and pant sizes the same?
How do you find the right belt size? Should it match your waist size? As a general rule, your belt should be exactly two inches longer than your waist measurement. An inch or two in either direction won’ make a big difference but any more or less than that and you’ve got a problem. You don’t want an ill-fitting belt because this can actually ruin your entire outfit.
Can belts be cleaned?
Over time, your belts can become dull and dirty. But cleaning belts is difficult because you can’t really throw them in the washing machine. The buckles and materials used with belts makes many of them unable to machine wash. Begin by wiping down your belt with a damp, clean cloth. From here, you can use material-specific cleaning products. Try a leather cleaner for leather belts. Use mild detergent for belts made with fabric.
Add the cleaner to a damp cloth first, then wipe down the belt thoroughly. Let the belt dry thoroughly overnight. If you wear a belt before it’s dry, you can stretch it out and change the shape. Dip a cotton swab in alcohol and use this to gently rub away stubborn stains. This is very effective against ink.
Cottonworks – History of Denim
Dapperly Dressed – Should You Wear a Belt With Jeans?
Ellicott & Co. – Denim: A Mythic History
Levi Strauss & Co. – The History of Denim
WikiHow – How to Clean a Leather Belt