What Kind of Belt to Wear with Jeans

What Kind of Belt to Wear with Jeans
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Figuring out what kind of belt to wear with jeans can be complicated, given that in today’s world, jeans have become acceptable in many different environments and are just as often worn for comfort as for fashion. This places even more emphasis on the belt to signify the desired style and attitude of the wearer.

That said, there are some simple tricks to ensure you’re communicating appropriately. No one wants to accidentally broadcast a casual message at a business meeting or look stuffy at relaxed social gatherings.

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Easy Tips to Match Your Jeans and Belts

Tip 1: Look to the Shoes

Since in today’s world, jeans are sometimes worn at businesses with more casual dress codes, shoes often tend to err more on the side of tradition. For this reason, when thinking of the kind of belt to wear with your jeans, look at your shoes first. If the occasion calls for leather shoes, then it calls for a leather belt.

Likewise, in casual situations, your belt should still match your shoes in when it comes to the material. If you wear leather sneakers, then you need a leather belt. Canvas sneakers get a canvas belt, and suede sneakers get a suede belt.

In both cases, the belt should match the shoes in color. Needless to say, most dress shoes are brown or black, so belts should be as well. Since color-matching can be difficult, sticking to black shoes and a black belt is the easiest route.

Color-matching with casual shoes can be a bit more difficult, so it might be wise if you’re fashion-conscious to opt for a common shoe color. On the other hand, when wearing jeans casually, belts can also complement shoes in color. Thus, white sneakers can easily be combined with many neutral tones and browns.

Tip 2: Watch the Width

Belts come in a huge range of widths, but generally, they can be classified as wide if they are 1 1/2 inches or more, and narrow if they are 1 1/4 inches or less. Wide belts look great with casual fabrics, whereas narrow belts are perfect for more formal fabrics and occasions.

So, how do jeans fit into all of this? Denim is a rare material in that it can be paired with either wide or narrow belts. This stands in stark contrast to how stuffy all cargo pants look with a narrow belt or how all dress pants look sloppy with a wide belt.

Once again, you can try to gauge the formality of the occasion based on the shoes, but there’s an easier way—dark denim gets a narrow belt, and light denim gets a wide belt. As a general rule, anything lighter than dark blue has a hard time passing for formal.

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Tip 3: Find an Appropriate Buckle

When it comes to dressier occasions, narrow belts take care of this for you, as they almost always have a more conservative buckle design. While there may be some variations, it comes down to personal preference more than anything else.

That said, if you have other visible metals—say, snaps or shirt buttons—you’ll want to try to match your buckle color. Then again, this is less noticeable, and you shouldn’t worry about it too much if you’re on a budget.

Unless your belt buckle is bright gold and your buttons are bright silver, most are unlikely to notice, and it’s a rarely adhered-to fashion faux pau regardless. Boxier, simplistic buckles suggest modernity and reason; large and loud buckles suggest adventurousness and confidence. Find your style and go with it.

Casual settings allow for more creativity. Often, buckles serve simply to broadcast the brand, even if they look nice. This matters to some people, but it would be wiser to opt for a buckle that matches your sense of style and personality better.

When to Break the Rules

When it comes to fashion, sometimes the only rule seems to be that rules are meant to be broken. While you’ll need to be quite daring to break some much-established rules, especially in more conservative environments, ultimately, your style is up to no one else but you.

Even in the workplace, old rules like only wearing navy or black suits are being routinely challenged by the young and old alike. So if you feel like matching a black belt with brown shoes, feel free to try it—just understand that you should have a good personal reason for doing so, and be prepared for others to not share in your tastes!


  1. When it comes to deciding what kind of belt to wear with jeans, keep in mind that thinner belts with buckles that match the color of your shoes are preferable if you’re wearing jeans in a more high-end environment.
  2. When going casual, rules can be broken more easily, but you’ll want to stick to wider belts and try to at least complement, if not match, the color of your shoes.
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