Sometimes fashion meets function, and in the case of belts, that certainly rings true. Belts were initially designed to keep garments—such as a slick pair of trousers—in place. But, in the modern world, they are considered flair in addition to their utilitarian purpose.
“Think of belts like you would a piece of jewelry,” says celebrity stylist Grace Van Cleave. “If you have put together a fabulous outfit but walk out the door with no jewelry, you’ll likely look unfinished,” she explains, adding how, similarly, belts can “bring a look together so much that you feel naked not wearing [one].”
Belts also come in handy when it comes to styling, not just to complete a look but to accentuate different areas of the body or break up patterns, textures, and colors. Wearing a belt at the waist draws attention to this area, allowing you to further show off your figure, whether you’re in a pair of high-waisted mom jeans or a flowing maxi dress.
While they are available in all kinds of materials—including canvas, silk, and even chains—the OG belt material is leather, and you really can’t go wrong with investing in a killer leather belt that you’ll wear and love for years to come.
From budget-friendly to vegan leather, we scoured the internet for the best leather belts and put together a detailed collection of our top picks. Browse Byrdie's top picks for leather belts ahead.
Best Overall: Rebecca Minkoff Suzy Leather Belt
For our best overall option, we wanted a leather belt that felt classic and high-end with a more moderate price point. Our top choice? This stylish calfskin leather belt from Rebecca Minkoff. The belt comes in black and brown with several size options to choose from. And while it’s not the most basic belt in the world, it has some of those timeless features but with three metal loop keepers for an extra bit of style.
Material: Calfskin leather | Sizes: XS-L | Width: 1 inch
Best Budget: SUOSDEY Leather Belt
Searching for a budget-friendly leather belt might seem like a challenge, but there are some excellent and high-quality options available. We zeroed in on this Amazon favorite with 4.6 stars out of 5 from over 9,000 customers. The belt is available in a wide range of colors—including several shades of brown, tan, white, and black—and is made from high-quality cowhide leather. And for less than $20 for most styles, it’s a total steal.
Material: Cowhide leather | Sizes: S-3X | Width: 1.25 inches
Best Designer: Gucci Leather Belt With Double G Buckle
It’s impossible not to include the iconic Gucci belt on our list. If you’re going to invest in a designer belt, we highly recommend going for Gucci. The leather belt has a simple and timeless design with a logo buckle that will never go out of style. On top of that, it’s available in a range of colors, such as black, brown, and a stunning dusty pink leather that is to die for.
Material: Calf leather | Sizes: 65-120 | Width: 0.8 inches
Best Extended Sizing: Land’s End Plus Size Classic Leather Belt
Everyone needs a classic belt in their wardrobe, and this plus-size option is a perfect choice. The belt is durable with a 1-inch wide band made from buttery and rich full-grain cowhide leather.
Material: Full-grain cowhide leather | Sizes: 1X-3X | Width: 1 inch
Best Vegan: Matt & Nat ORA Vegan Wide Belt
Matt & Nat is known for its gorgeous vegan leather bags that extend to the waist with this stylish belt. Available in a range of classic colors—think black, brown, red, and a beautiful sage—the belt has a clean yet retro feel with its 2-inch wide design and slender round buckle.
Material: Vegan leather | Sizes: S-L | Width: 2 inches
Best Detailed: JASGOOD Hollow Flower Leather Belt
Get funky with a little detail and this retro-feeling hollow flower-patterned leather belt. With 4.5 stars from over 7,000 Amazon customers, this belt is made from high-quality leather hole-punched with a floral pattern that feels feminine and oh-so-chic. And, at less than $20 (some sizes are as low as $5), it was an obvious pick for this list.
Material: Leather | Sizes: 20-25, 25-34, 37-44, 45-51, 51-57 | Width: 1.5 inches
Best All-Black: ALAÏA Leather Belt
There are a few options for black-on-black belts. You can go the black hardware and black leather route, or you can spice things up with a black leather buckle and belt situation. The latter won this list, and we can’t stop staring at the sleek design of this leather belt from ALAÏA. Featuring a 2-inch wide belt and striking 3-inch geometric buckle, the leather belt is the perfect choice for trousers, jeans, dresses—you name it.
Material: Leather | Sizes: 26-34 inches | Width: 2 inches
Best Black: B-Low the Belt Jordana Minim Belt
Our best black belt pick was all about finding something that has a classic design with a modern touch. We found it in this black and silver belt, which features Western-style hardware and a sleek modern strap.
Material: Leather | Sizes: XS-L | Width: 1.25 inches
Best Brown: BKE Basic Belt
For us, finding the best of options is usually about going back to the basics with something that will stay on trend for a long time. We found that in this gorgeous vegan leather brown belt from Buckle. The just over 1-inch belt is made from realistic synthetic leather material and is complete with an oval brushed metal buckle.
Material: Faux leather | Sizes: XS-XXL | Width: 1.13 inches
Best Metallic: J.Crew Skinny Metallic Italian Leather Belt
Metallic leather belts add a lot of fun and a dash of sparkle to any ensemble. We chose this one from J.Crew for its color and size, as we didn’t want a belt that was too thick and eye-catching. Additionally, we love the monochromatic approach this belt takes with its gold-foiled leather strap and matching brass hardware.
Material: Italian leather | Sizes: XS-XL | Width: 0.5 inches
Best Braided: B-Low the Belt Acacia Woven Leather Belt
Braided belts are traditionally a more casual approach to leather belts. But, we love how upscale this woven design from B-Low the Belt is, thanks to its width and ultra-shiny hardware. Available in black and brown options, the belt is a great choice for someone looking to purchase a belt that can be hung from different parts of the waist and hips as the belt doesn’t have traditional holes, and instead, you can puncture the braid wherever feels best.
Material: Leather and zinc alloy | Sizes: S/M, M/L | Width: 2.25 inches
Best Skinny: Madewell Skinny Perfect Leather Belt
Known for its leather accessories, Madewell was a must for our list of best belts. We chose this skinny belt because it has a simple and timeless design that boasts a worn-in feel, making it a belt that will not only look good with just about anything but last a long time, too.
Material: Leather | Sizes: Extra-small, small, medium, large | Width: 0.75 inches
Best Clasp: Raina Double Bee Clasp Leather Belt
Clasp belts are a fun way to make a statement, and we love the element of fun the bee clasp adds to this 1-inch wide leather belt. Available in a bright mustard color, white, as well as classic black, this belt is joined at the waist with the help of two bee-shaped clasps.
Material: Leather | Sizes: One size | Width: 1 inch
Best Pull Back: Nordstrom Wishbone Pullback Leather Belt
With so many pull-back leather belts to choose from, we wanted one that had a buckle that was simple with slight detailing. And this one from Nordstrom checked all of our boxes. We love the sleek strap—which is available in black and brown—with the thin brass buckle that adds just the right amount of flair.
Material: Leather | Sizes: XS-XL | Width: 1 inch
Best Navy: J. McLaughlin Lina Reversible Leather Belt
Navy is neutral, but this navy leather belt is anything but that. The gold rectangle buckle features a subtle bamboo style that elevates the pebble grain leather to new heights. Additionally, this is a great belt for anyone who loves color, as the navy strap can be easily flipped over to an orange hue worthy of a California poppy.
Material: Pebble grain leather | Sizes: XS-XL | Width: 1.38 inches
Best Black and Gold: ADA Infinity Skinny Leather Belt
Black and gold belts are a dime a dozen, so when we set out to find the best of the best, we wanted one that was not only great quality with a good price point but one with a classic design that has some edge. The Infinity Skinny Leather Belt from ADA instantly made us swoon with its double buckle center, making it timeless enough for everyday wear with a touch of personality.
Material: Leather | Sizes: One size | Width: 0.5 inches
Best Reversible: Coach Harness Buckle Reversible Belt
If you’re going for two-in-one, you want to ensure the highest quality. This reversible belt from Coach is made from refined calf leather and grounded with a simple yet sophisticated polished brass buckle that pairs beautifully with both black and brown sides.
Material: Calf leather | Sizes: XS-XL | Width: 1 inch
Best Belt Bag: Saint Laurent Kate Mini Bag
We love a purse belt—they’re like fanny packs, only chicer. This crocodile-embossed leather purse belt from Saint Laurent features a slim belt strap with gold hardware, making it a great skinny belt in and of itself. The added (and detachable) pouch might look small, but it packs a punch with two card slots and a flat pocket so you can keep the essentials close.
Material: Calfskin leather | Sizes: One size | Width: 1.8 inches
Best Round Buckle: Sergio Hudson Signature Buckle Leather Belt
Round buckles are one of our favorite ways to add a more eye-catching touch to an outfit. And for this category, we wanted to find something that truly made a statement. Enter: This buckle belt from Sergio Hudson. The thick belt has a bohemian feel with a stunning—and large—brushed brass belt buckle front and center, making it the perfect focal point of any look.
Material: Leather | Sizes: 26, 28, 30 | Width: 2 inches
Best Waist: Free People Sache My Way Belt
For a waist belt, you want something that can fit snugly around your middle, and the softer the material, the easier it is to create this effect. We are obsessed with this leather sache belt as it is made from ultra-soft suede, features buckle holes to help secure it in place, and is available in a range of fun colors like mustard yellow and bubble gum pink.
Material: Leather | Sizes: S/M, M/L
Best Wrap: ADA Skinny Leather Wrap Belt
Wrap belts are another fun way to spice up the waist, and this one made our best list because of how versatile it is. Crafted by artisans in Argentina, the leather belt can be worn as a front-facing tie, braided around the waist, or knotted at the center, depending on the look you’re going for.
Material: Argentinean leather | Sizes: One size | Width: 1 inch
What to Look for When Buying Leather Belts
The way a belt fits is of utmost importance. “If hooking on the last hole or it feels uncomfortable to wear, skip it,” Van Cleave explains, adding that an ill-fitting belt that is uncomfortable might never get used in your wardrobe, so there is no use in purchasing it.
Although they serve a purpose, belts are also a great way to make a style statement. “I love an interesting buckle or a fun color,” says Van Cleave. These are not only a great way to add some personality to your wardrobe, but they can also transform an entire look or tie things together.
Choosing the right color is also important, and Van Cleave says there are two things to consider. “With color, choose something that either blends or provides contrast to an outfit,” she explains.
How do you measure belt size?
“If you have them handy, try on the pair of pants or jeans you intend to wear with a belt,” says Van Cleave. “Take a soft measuring tape and put it through the belt loops to see what your measurement is,” she adds, noting that it’s important to not suck in or push your stomach out to get an accurate measurement. “Now add two inches, as you want your belt to be able to be laced through a buckle with some give, ideally worn around the middle hole. Keep in mind, if you are intending to wear a belt around your waist, you will likely need a smaller size than if you intend to wear it around your hips.” Another trick for measuring belt size is to “measure a belt you already have to know what length you need and compare it to a company sizing chart,” she says.
How to soften a leather belt
To soften a leather belt, Van Cleave recommends a leather conditioner. “Apply one layer at a time until you receive the desired effect,” she explains. “While I have heard olive oil, coconut oil, and Vaseline can work well [for softening leather belts], I suggest you spot check before using [these options] on your entire belt as it will likely become a few shades darker."
What are different ways to style a belt?
When it comes to styling a belt, “there are so many options,” says Van Cleave. “I love to use them to accentuate a waist, especially with a curvy client,” she explains, noting how you can style a shirt dress with a belt at the waist to “create a whole new look instead of the fabric belt that is [usually] included.”
According to Van Cleave, another way to style a belt is to go monochromatic; She loves this look with high-waisted trousers. “If you’re wearing burgundy pants, find a thin burgundy belt in the same color,” she explains.
Belts can also help to "add dimension" to patterned maxi dresses, Van Cleave reveals. “Add a belt, and it breaks up the look,” she says.
Why Trust Byrdie
Contributing writer Jessie Quinn has a bachelor's degree in fashion journalism. From working in the fashion closet and interviewing designers at NYLON Magazine to now writing about the best style trends for various publications—including, Byrdie, Brides, The Zoe Report, Bustle, and more—Jessie researches and sources the best fashion finds for readers. When researching the best leather belts for women, Jessie kept quality and style top of mind. Much like style expert Grace Van Cleave, Jessie believes that a belt is one of the best ways to tie a look together. She also loves how an entire outfit can change by the addition of a belt (and its texture, hardware, and design).