According to a famous designer, accessories are the “exclamation point” to a woman’s outfit. Guess it’s also true with that of men. While a few pieces can level up your look, you still want to ensure that your accessories match your outfit. Think of symmetry and balance. If you don’t carefully match the materials, sizes, and colors of your accessories, you end up drawing other people’s attention… in a bad way. Speaking of accessories for men, there is one thing that a lot of guys get really confused about: how to wear a belt. You probably have the same question - should your belt match your shoes? The quick answer is YES. BUT, There are a few exceptions to the rule. And you’re about to discover that.
Factors to Consider When Matching Belts and Shoes
Belts come in a myriad of colors and shades. As a general rule, your belt should have a similar color, shade, and glossiness to your shoes.
Shoes and belts shouldn't clash (at all).
The more contrast there is between your belt and shoes, the less stylish you’re going to look. This means that if you’re wearing dark brown leather shoes, your belt should also be dark brown leather. If your kicks have a distinct oxford color, so should be your belt. Black shoes and a black belt? Good to go.
The color match should be “close enough”.
What if you have two-toned shoes? What about white shoes? Does it mean you have to wear a white belt too? Doesn’t it look weird? Alright. We’ve come to the exceptions. If your shoes are two-toned, you need not fuss about finding a two-toned belt to match it. The trick is to get an overall feel of your shoes. Identify the dominant color. That should serve as your guide to choosing the perfect belt color. White, grey, and black are essentially non-colors. You can pick cooler tones, such as a black belt. You might also wonder… can you use a belt with a different shade (e.g. light brown shoes and a dark brown belt)? Generally, no. The exception is when you choose a shade that is “close enough” to your shoes. Hence, you can still look dapper if you pair a medium brown belt with your dark brown shoes. In fact, it’s wiser to have a belt that is mid-shade of a group color. Since most men’s shoes are black and brown, consider keeping medium black and medium brown belts in your wardrobe. Meanwhile, shoes with unusual colors, such as maroon, blue, and grey can be paired with black or brown belts. The color blue, however, is more special. You can actually use a blue belt with your blue shoes. This is the time to steer away from having to match the color shades. For instance, if the coolness of your blue shoes is just right, you can play with a lighter or darker shade of blue belt. What about black shoes and a brown belt? Unfortunately, it’s a big NO. Even if you look at the color wheel, you’ll see that these colors do not complement each other.
Enough with colors. What about the material? As mentioned earlier, your belt and shoes should match in terms of color, shade, and glossiness. This means that if you’re wearing leather shoes, your belt should be leather too. If your shoes are matte, look for a belt that isn’t shiny. However, the texture is a bit more complicated than the colors. Matching textures can be a good idea, but sometimes, they tend to look off. For example, pairing a suede belt with suede shoes doesn’t make you look stylish. So as pairing an alligator belt with your alligator shoes. Really weird. In fact, in terms of texture, you can actually try some subtle variations to achieve balance. For example, a braided leather belt paired with suede shoes look fashionable. It all boils down to your personal judgment. It also doesn’t hurt to ask a friend what they think.
Consider the Occasion
For formal occasions, you want to stick to the basic rules. So if you're wearing a suit, your shoes and belt should closely match. For example, leather black shoes with a smooth finish also feature a smooth black leather strap. Additionally, dress shoes will have to be paired with belts with a dress buckle. Meanwhile, casual occasions call for more relaxed shoes and belt combos. You can even experiment not only on colors but also textures and designs. For instance, sneakers can be paired with casual belts. Here are some guidelines when you’re picking a belt for your casual outfit: Match your belt to your outfit as a whole. Shoes and outfits in the white and black spectrum (which includes grey, light grey, and dark grey) go perfectly with black belts. Shoes with dark and vibrant tones, such as brown, mustard orange, burgundy, and cognac pair nicely with brown belts. While you can break some rules of belt and shoe matching with casual wear, there is one rule you ought to follow: shoes and belt colors shouldn't clash. You still want to achieve "harmony" in your outfit. You might be wondering - how do you determine a formal belt or a casual belt? It’s easy. Simply measure the width of the belt using your thumb. If it’s as wide as your thumb, it’s a dress belt. If it’s wider than your thumb, it’s a casual belt. Additionally, casual belts have fancier textures and often made with different materials like canvass. Meanwhile, formal dress belts are usually made with a leather, either woven or smooth finish.
Summing it Up
So does your belt have to match your shoes? Yes, definitely! Matching shoes and belts is one of the many ways you can be fashionable. As a general rule, your belt should match closely to the color of your shoes. But some other factors play a role too in helping you decide which belt pairs with which shoes. These include the belt structure and texture. You can play around with styles if you’re wearing a casual outfit but don’t go overboard. Now you have one problem solved. It’s time to grab that belt and shoes and go out the door with confidence!
Mariam Simmons is a fashion enthusiast and Content Manager at Alpine Swiss. She loves traveling to the world’s top stylish destinations and gets inspired to create helpful fashion and lifestyle guides. With over a decade of writing experience, her main goal in creating content is to ensure readers learn something useful and provide value instead of noise.