22 Different Types of Belts for Men and Women (Great List)


From keeping your pants up to making bold fashion statements, belts have been part of our wardrobes for thousands of years. Now, there are more choices than ever when it comes to belts. Learn about types of belts for men and women to find the best choice for your outfit.

Three leather belts in various tones.

Belts are usually decorative, but can also be important for keeping your pants up.  No one wants to be embarrassed by their pants falling down.  There are many fashion trends afoot when it comes to belts.  They have the potential to make or break an outfit.

Sometimes belts may add a slimming effect or just dress up an outfit.  No matter your purpose for wearing a belt, there are many different types of belts for men and women out there. Good thing too, because if your pants have belt loops, you should usually wear a belt.  Otherwise, you are likely to look sloppy.

Belts have a long history and are one of the oldest pieces of clothing known to exist.  Pretty much every civilization had some type of belt-like device since they started wearing clothes.  References to belts date as far back as 3300  to 1200 B.C.E

Early belts were usually made of leather but could have simply been a cord or string tied around the waist.  These belts helped to keep people’s pants on, but also were used to hang pouches off of, and eventually for purely fashion reasons.  People have been searching for the perfect belt for thousands of years, you are not alone.

Related: Types of belt buckles

How To Determine Belt Size

When speaking of belts, talking about different styles, colors, and designs are important, but a good place to start is to figure out how a belt size works.  In some cases, belts will be sold by waist size.  If this is true of the belt you are eyeing, measure your waist and then go up one more size.

For instance, if your waist measures 34 inches, you would buy a 36-inch belt.  In other cases, belts are sold by size (small, medium, large, etc…)  These sizes are different for men and women since women are generally smaller in size than men.  Here is a chart that explains how waist measurements correspond to sizes.

SizeXXSXSSMLXLXXL
Men's Waist Size (Inches)25-2626-2828-3031-3334-3637-4044-46
Women's Waist Size (Inches)2424-2525-2626-2727.5-28.529-3032-34

Types of Belts for Men

Men wear belts for a variety of reasons.  Military belts and weightlifting belts serve a purpose.  Belts can also be great for keeping your pants up, clipping on a knife, cell phone, or pager, or dressing up an outfit.

Just slip that belt through your belt loops and leave the house with confidence that there will be no pants mishaps.  There may not be quite as many styles available to men, but there are still a good number of options for belts.  Read on to discover available styles and materials for men’s belts.

Leather Belt

A close look at a man sporting a brown leather belt.

A leather belt is the most classic belt when it comes to men’s fashion.  Leather is durable and strong, as well as fashionable.  The most common colors are a black leather belt or brown leather belt.  Combine your strap with a great belt buckle and you are in business.  Within this name, there are several subcategories of leather belt.

  • Genuine Leather Belt: A belt that is labeled as a genuine leather belt needs to have a strap that is 100 percent leather, it cannot be combined with fabric or synthetic materials.  The leather an be bonded or sewn together and still have this label.
  • Grain Leather Belt:   One step further is the full-grain leather belt.  This is cut from the hide and undergoes minimal processing.
  • Exotic Leathers: Even though cowhide is the most common material for a leather belt strap, exotic leathers such as alligator, crocodile, lizard, and ostrich can be found.
  • Tooled leather: This is another popular style, where a stamping process adds a design to a belt.  Tooled belts are usually only worn in casual settings.
  • Suede Belt: This type of leather has a napped finish on one side of the strap, this makes it nice and soft.  Usually worn in casual settings, suede belts can be found in black, brown, tan, blue, and gray.

Faux Leather

NYBC Belts for Men Vegan Leather Casual Mens Belt 38mm Width, NYBC Colton, Black, Medium
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Faux leather is artificial or synthetic leather.  It is usually made out of polyurethane and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).  However, vegan leather, which is made out of more environmentally friendly substances is becoming more popular.  There are some pros and cons of opting for faux leather over genuine leather.

Faux leather is cheaper, durable, low maintenance has a consistent appearance and is easy to work with.  On the other hand, faux leather will not stretch or breathe as well as real leather and it is not punctured or tear resistant like genuine leather.

Dress Belt

A man wearing a dress belt with his office clothes.

Whenever fancy dress is required, so is a dress belt or formal belt.  A dress belt will look more polished and can be found with a brown or black strap.  Wear a black belt with black shoes or a brown belt with brown shoes.

Choose from a classic single prong buckle or opt for an automatic ratchet-style to keep the color looking uniform.  Leather is the most popular material for a dress belt, but there are also some very nice woven and synthetic options out there.   A designer belt is a great choice for this purpose, with Salvatore Ferragamo, Coach, and Ralph Lauren being popular choices.

Casual Belt

This is a close look at a complete outfit with a casual belt.

A casual belt is great for wearing with jeans, shorts, or other casual outfits.  Leather, faux leather, elastic, woven, and canvas belts are all great options for a casual belt.  Colors can include black, brown, tan, gray, blue, and others.

Braided Belt

A close look at a brown leather braided belt.

A braided belt offers many options.  Find elastic braided stretch belts, a cotton/polyester braid with leather accents and a metal buckle, a leather braided belt, and tri-color braided belts.  Find casual options or dressier ones for a night on the town or special event.

Snap Belt

A vintage brown leather snap belt.

Source: Etsy

When hearing the term snap belt, it could mean a couple of things.  There are snap belt straps that allow you to change which buckle you wish to wear with your belt strap.  This term can also refer to a belt that has a belt buckle with a male and female end that snap together, kind of like a seat belt.

Reversible Belt

Kenneth Cole REACTION mens Reversible Comfort Stretch Casual apparel belts, Black/Brown Gunmetal, 34 US
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A reversible men’s belt is a terrific addition to any wardrobe.  Normally black on one side and brown on the other, owning a reversible belt is like owning two belts for the price of one.  These belts are usually made out of leather and include some sort of swivel belt buckle that can switch to work with either side of the belt.

Military Belt

A close look at a dark gray military belt.

A military belt, webbed belt, or tactical belt is usually made out of nylon.  These belts are flexible, can absorb sweat, and can hold weight for those that need to carry tools or weapons.  Often times, these belts can be trimmed to the correct size.

They can be found with a few different buckles, and generally don’t have holes.  Military belts with no metal in them can be found to make it easy to go through metal detectors and security screenings.

Athletic Belts

A weightlifter wearing an athletic belt.

It is recommended to wear a lifting belt while lifting weights.  Boxers and wrestlers are also known for their awesome belts, especially the highly coveted wrestling buckle reserved for champions.  Running belts can also be handy for including reflective materials for safety or for holding your possessions while you run.

Types of Belts for Women

As with most types of fashion, there are more colors and styles of belts available to women.  Choose from a waist belt, corset belt, subtle utilitarian belts, formal belts, and metallic belts with plenty of bling.

Women’s belts can help to complete an outfit, create a slimming effect, accentuate curves, and take a dress to the next level.  Take a look at the different types of belts for women and start planning your next exceptional outfit.

Leather Belt

A fashionable woman wearing a brown leather belt.

As with men’s belts, leather is the most popular material for women’s belts.  Leather belts can be found in a variety of styles and colors, including black, brown, tan, and white.  Common types of leather belts include genuine leather, grain leather, and suede belts.

These belts are great with jeans or dress pants.  A wide leather belt is most commonly worn over a cardigan, as leather is a more casual choice when it comes to wide belts.

Dress Belt

A woman wearing a dress belt with her lovely blue dress.

The term dress belt can have a few different meanings when it comes to women’s belts.  Also called a trouser belt, a dress belt can work with nice slacks. Dress belts come in a huge variety of colors and styles for the strap from classic leather to a metallic skinny belt to a stretch belt with an elaborate diamond or rhinestone buckle.

Women also use belts to add an extra element when wearing dresses.  This practice helps to accentuate curves, add a slimming effect, and also add personality and interest.  A designer belt is often chosen for a dress belt.  Popular brands include Valentino Garavani, Isabel Marant, Fendi, Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Chanel.

Metallic Belt

Leather Fashion Belt, Metallic Gold with bright Nickel Plated Buckle (44)
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Add some shine to your wardrobe with a metallic belt.  These belts are often worn with dresses, but can also work with trousers or jeans.  Reversible belts sometimes feature black, white, or brown on one side and silver or gold metallic on the other side of the strap, providing many uses for one belt.  Common materials for metallic belts are leather or manmade materials such as polyurethane.

Braided Belt

A close look at three braided belts in various tones.

For a casual look, try a braided belt.  These are usually made of braided leather, but there are also braided web belts made with nylon or synthetic options.  Find a variety of colors for the strap, such as brown, black, red, gray, or metallic, and some cool patterns when opting for braided nylon.

Snap Belts

Womens Leather Belt Strap with Embossed Western Flowers Pattern 1.5" Wide with Snaps (Brown-S)
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There are several types of snap belts for women.  This term can refer to a belt that allows you to snap in a buckle, giving you the chance to switch buckles when wearing different belts.  Another type of snap belt are belts that have a snap closure instead of a buckle.

These can connect much like a seat belt or something similar.  A final type of snap belt is one that snaps back on itself over the front belt loops.  This means there is no bulky buckle in the middle of your pants, allowing for more freedom of movement.

Woven Belt

A close look at a colorful woven women's belt.

Women’s woven belts give a little bit of stretch in the strap and add a nice element to casual outfits.  Common materials for this casual belt include polyester blend, leather, elastic, and canvas.  The great thing about these belts is that they come in a huge number of colors and patterns.

Choose your favorite buckle type.  Woven belts sometimes have a traditional single prong buckle, but can also be found with a double ring closure or as a cinch belt.

Wide Belt

wide belt

A wide belt will obviously not fit through belt loops.  These belts are worn over dresses, cardigans, or tunic style shirts.  They add a nice slimming effect to the waist and can also accentuate a woman’s curves.  There is a huge number of possibilities when it comes to wide belts.  These are found in leather, elastic blends, and also with elaborate patterns of jewels and gems.  Tie closures, snap closures, and buckles are all used with these types of belts.

Elastic Belt

A woman's green elastic belt.

An elastic belt, or stretch belt, allows for extra comfort when wearing a women’s belt.  There are buckle free options as well as traditional buckles, including flat, no show buckles.  There are even some elastic belts out there that are made with recycled materials if you are looking for an environmentally friendly belt.

Sash Belt

A close look at a white dress with a green sash belt on display.

A sash belt has a thick strap and is worn over dresses, long shirts, or sweaters.  They can be made of faux leather, genuine leather, or fabric.  There is no buckle in a sash belt, they usually tie for closure.

Corset Belt

Women’s Elastic Costume Waist Belt Lace-up Tied Waspie Corset Belts for Women Halloween by JASGOOD,01-Black,Fits Waist 32-36 Inches
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A corset belt usually laces up just like a traditional corset.  However, zipper, buckle, and hook closures can also be found.  These belts can be worn over dresses or over shirts with pants.  Since it cinches up the midsection, these belts definitely have a slimming effect.  These belts can be made of leather, polyurethane, or fabric.  They can also be embellished or left plain.

Studded Belt

Women Rhinestone Belt Fashion Western Cowgirl Bling Studded Design Suede Leather Belt 1-1/4"(32mm) wide (Crystal, 40'' XXL)
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Studded belt straps are usually made from leather or faux leather.  These belts are decorated with metal studs, which are pushed through the leather making nice designs.  In addition to metal, faux gems can also be used, such as faux turquoise or rhinestones.

Reversible Belt

Falari Women Reversible Belt Genuine Leather Fashion Dress Belt With Single Prong Buckle 6027-WHITE-M
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A reversible belt is a nice addition to any wardrobe.  This belt features two different colors, one on each side.  There are more options for women’s reversible belts than men’s reversible belts.  Find simple black and brown, white and black, metallic, red, patterned, and more.

Athletic Belt

A close look at a woman wearing an athletic belt on her run.

Women weightlifters will wear a belt for back support.  Many runners also wear a belt to keep possessions safe while hitting the road or the trail. There are many choices, such as a belt with tubular design, running belt with pockets, or a hydration belt.

FAQ:

Is there a difference between men’s and women’s belts?  

There are certainly differences between men’s and women’s belts, but could a man wear a woman’s belt?  Sure!  Could a woman wear a man’s belt, why not?  There are some differences to be aware of though, for instance sizing.

A male belt is longer and stronger and can fit waists of larger sizes.  There are also far fewer colors and styles available to men.  Men’s belts are usually more utilitarian in purpose, whereas women’s belts might certainly be functional, they also add much more to an outfit in terms of fashion.

How many belts should a man have? 

Every man should have at least six belts in their closet.  These six include a black dress belt for formal occasions, a brown dress belt for use at the office when you are wearing brown shoes, a casual leather belt to wear with jeans or chinos, a smooth suede belt for happy hours and less formal, but still nice, occasions, a slim belt for things like summer weddings, and a summer fabric belt for a barbecue or day at the beach.  These six belts should cover pretty much any situation or outfit.

How many belts should a woman have? 

Every woman should have at least five belts in their closet. This number will vary depending on the career and activities of the woman.  These five belts include a leather belt for jeans or casual situations, a wide belt for times that you need a statement piece or to accentuate your curves, a metallic belt to use for a stunning party outfit, an elastic accent belt, perhaps studded with pearls, for fancy occasions, and a skinny belt for high waist jeans or a straight dress.

When should you wear a belt?

In most cases, if your pants, shorts, or skirt has belt loops, you should wear a belt.  However, many clothing items are made to fit better these days.  If a belt is going to make your outfit look too busy or will not add to your outfit, it can be ok to skip the belt.  The same goes for men and women, but women enter another realm entirely when it comes to wearing a belt with something without belt loops.

This can include a long sweater or a dress.  When wearing a belt with a dress, consider the best width for your body type.  Someone with a short torso should probably not wear a super wide belt.  Also be aware that when you wear a belt with no belt loops, it will slide around.  This is just fine, but be prepared to shift the belt a little bit every time you stand up or sit down.

Should I wear a thick or thin belt?  

This question can depend on your type of outfit and look your are going for, but most times it comes down to the shape of your body.  Thick belts are best for women who have long torsos.  This will help to make a woman look more proportional.  Women with shorter torsos should stick to thin belts.  A thick belt could completely cover up the midsection, making it look like it’s missing.

Should my belt go left or right?  

A man should start inserting his belt in the first belt loop on the left side of his pants.   This means that the buckle and the unsecured flap is on the left.  Today, this procedure is also used by lots of women who put on their own belt.

Most people are right handed, so it makes sense to thread the belt through the left side first.  However, historically, women’s belts would end on the right because they are put on by a lady’s maid instead of by herself.

Are belts in style 2021?  

Belts have basically continually been in when it comes to fashion.  However, the style of belts that are in change regularly.

For 2021, wide belts have been particularly popular for women.  These are being incorporated with coats, dresses, and even high waisted pants.

References:

  1. Wiki How: How to Determine Belt Size
  2. Our Everyday Life: Difference Between Genuine Leather Belts & Full Grain Cowhide Belts