Using different colors, patterns, and textures are important parts of creating an outfit that looks great when paired together. A certain continuity of different elements on your outfit will help you look always well put together and interesting at the same time. Managing your different accents in your outfit is a sign of style mastery. The good thing is, it’s easy to learn.
How Should You Combine Your Shoes, Belt & Other Accessories?
When pairing shoes with a belt, obviously, the leather color is very important; but also the texture of the leather, and then to a certain extent, the metal buckle. Ideally, you want to match the color, the leather texture, as well as the metal color of the belt, and the shoe and other accessories you may have.
At first, it sounds easy, doesn’t it? But once you think about all the metal accessories, it’s a bit more tricky. Just think about cufflinks, for example, or the buckles on your Monk Straps, or maybe a briefcase, your watch, your collar pin, your tie bar, also think about watch chains, or laser buttons, rings, including your wedding band and last but not least, eyeglasses or sunglasses.
1. Put Your Garments Together
First and foremost, you want to start by putting the main components of your outfit together. By that, I mean your pants, your shirt, and your jacket.
2. Choose Your Soft Accessories
Soft accessories mean your pocket square, neckwear, and socks. If you want to learn how to combine pants, shoes, and socks so you look the part, check out this guide, and to get a better understanding of how a pocket square, a tie, or a bow tie, a shirt, and a jacket can work together, this guide can help you out.
Pairing Shoes, Leather & Metal Accessories
Once you’ve picked the main components, as well as your soft accessories, it’s time for the shoes. Once you’ve thought of a pair of shoes, choose the belt. Basically, you have to consider three components: the leather color, the leather texture, and the metal color.
1. Leather Colors
We recommend that you match the color of your shoes and your belt as closely as possible. Fortunately, because there’s a visual distance between your belt and your shoes, it doesn’t have to match 100%, it just has to be close, so visually, it appears to be the same. The more formal the occasion, the more important the color matching aspect becomes. That means if you have black monk straps with a silver buckle, you should match it with a black leather belt and a silver buckle. Obviously, matching a black pair of shoes with a black belt is fairly easy because black doesn’t come in any other shades.
If you look at other colors such as brown, blue, or green, it becomes a lot more difficult. Why? Well, just look at brown. It comes in hundreds, if not, thousands of different shades, and matching them exactly between your shoes and your belts is virtually impossible unless you bought them at the same time when the belt and the shoes are made from the same leather.
So, wearing black shoes with a brown belt or brown shoes with a black belt is a combination that should be avoided at all costs. To many, that may seem fairly obvious, but what about if you have brown shoes and maybe a tan belt? Can you combine that? Again, you want the tones to be as close as possible but you have a bit of leeway because of the visual gap between the belt and your shoes. For example, a burgundy belt that has a slightly different color than burgundy shoes, but when worn on an outfit, it looks very harmonious and well put together.
2. Leather Textures
Ideally, you want the texture to match. If you have a belt that is a box calf leather and a Scotch grain belt, the textures are not the same, but fairly similar. If you have a brown leather belt and suede shoes, the textures are more different. The problem with brown suede shoes is that finding a belt that has the same color and the same texture is highly unlikely unless you have hundreds of belts in your wardrobe. In those cases, it is more important for you to match the color as closely as possible than the texture. That could mean one is suede and the other one is a regular leather or a Scotch grain leather but similar color-wise, which people won’t really notice from afar.
Most people will look at your belt from two feet away. So, in a nutshell, dark brown suede shoes with a dark brown box calf or Scotch grain leather are better than having dark brown suede shoes with a tan suede belt. Of course, if you have suede dark green shoes and a suede dark green belt, that’s perfect. For that reason, if you buy a new pair of suede shoes or something with an unusual texture or color, try to think about your belt option at the same time; so maybe you can get a belt from the same maker because otherwise, it will be very difficult to pair and match it.
The less formal your combinations become, the more leeway you have in terms of color and texture matching. For example, Preston often wears a tie as a belt which is something he picked up from Fred Astaire, on top of that, he’s such a slim guy that he has issues finding a belt that actually fits his slim waist. Tough life, right?
So, what exactly does a less formal combination look like? Well, let’s say you have a pair of brown boat shoes that you wear with slacks. You can wear it with a brown woven belt, maybe even with fabric accents or even have a two-tone pair of navy and dark red boat shoes, you can pair it with salmon-red chinos and a navy belt. Another example would be if you have yellow shoes you can wear a madras belt with it because it makes the whole combination more casual, summery, and relaxed-looking.
If you have two-tone shoes or shoes with more than one color, it gives you more options because you can pair the color of your belt with either that of the shoe; both will work. Traditionally, I think people would wear a brown and white Oxford more with a brown belt, but if you have a white belt, that works too. The white belt is a little more contrasting and flashy, so you could weigh your options there.
3. Metal Colors
Now that we got leather color and texture squared away, let’s look at how to match the colors of the metal properly. Typically, with more formal outfits, you have a more reduced color palette and because of that, matching the colors exactly of your metal accessories become more important.
In an ideal world, all the metal accessories should have identical metal shade and color. That means if you have a yellow gold buckle, you want yellow gold cufflinks, a yellow gold watch, and a yellow gold tie bar or collar clip; and if you have silver platinum or white gold buckle, that means white gold cufflinks, silver watch, silver shoe buckles, or maybe briefcase buckles. If you want to take it even a step further, you can have a rose gold buckle, and wear it with rose gold cufflinks and maybe a rose gold collar clip or a pinky ring.
Where Should Metal Matching Start?
The answer here is, ideally, with your belt buckle. Why? Because you already had to match it to your shoes in color and texture, and chances that you have all your belts in the same color and texture in gold and in silver and rose gold is extremely slim.
Even if you start with your belt buckle and you maybe have a briefcase or a portfolio, chances are, you don’t have those in all the different leather colors and metal colors as well. For example, personally, I have a gold wedding band so even if I have silver accessories, I’m not going to take off my wedding band and I’ll just keep wearing it.
The more accessories you add into your outfit, the higher the chances that you can’t match all the metal shades. It’s just important that you’re aware of it and try to match it where you can. If it doesn’t always work out, don’t worry, just own it and wear it with confidence.
Solving The Belt Buckle Problem
I’m a clotheshorse; I have many shoes and many matching belts in color, but I often have difficulties matching the metal shades. Honestly, it really frustrates me because basically, it would mean I need every belt with a silver buckle and every belt with a gold buckle which means, I need tons of belts – which costs a lot of money, and if I gain a little bit of weight, I may have to sell them all again and start all over again. When I travel, I have to bring 15 belts to make it all work, so it’s just expensive, impractical, and really frustrating.
So, I thought about it and was like, well, if I could just combine any buckle I owned with any belt, I could have a very small capsule wardrobe where both belts and buckles that would basically give me all the combinations that I would ever need. I knew there were belt systems like that out there, but when I looked at the leather quality, I was disappointed. I didn’t want to wear it and the buckles are made of cheap, zamak material and it was just overall nothing that would work with a high-end suit, a bespoke garment, or just for someone who cares about their clothes.
I wanted a belt system that looked like a regular high-quality belt with fine, craftsmanship details and high-quality buckles that I could wear for years or decades to come. You’re probably not surprised, but we decided to just create it ourselves.
The Fort Belvedere Belt System
Of course, we started with the best leathers. We decided on a Fort Belvedere green Saffiano leather lining because it has the right creases for something that will always be bent on the outside. We used really fine German aniline-dyed box calf leathers. It’s leather-lined, we use very high-quality stitching, the belts are handmade in Portugal from Italian and German leather.
The real aspect we really paid attention to was the heavy painting of our buckles so they don’t tarnish or show wear over time. Most of the other belt buckles I’ve had looked pretty crappy a year in, and I definitely did not want them to happen with the Fort Belvedere buckles.
We start with five colors in box calf and different buckles in platinum and yellow gold. We’ll add different colored buckles, different styles, and more belts in the future so you can build the belt system that works best for you and your shoe wardrobe.
Another big advantage of the belt system is that you can cut the belt to size so it works for you and even if you lose a little weight, it’s not going to be a problem. There’s also enough holes and it will still work when you gain a little weight; and because you can exchange all the buckles, you’re extremely flexible.
If you’re interested in the Fort Belvedere belt system, head over to our website where you can see the full selections and the videos; how it works, and how you cut it to size, as well as the benefits over other belts and belt systems.
Distinguished gentlemen can benefit from the smart techniques of matching shoes with a proper belt and other accessories to create a harmonious, dapper look. And because belts are the larger, more prominent leather and metal accessory in an outfit, investing in a versatile and modular collection can greatly improve your whole appearance, in a cost-effective way in the long run.