Belts are a classic detail on a lot of fall and winter coats. They not only add shape to the waist, they can also give you quicker closure (good for when you’re running out into the rain). Perhaps it’s for that reason why you mostly see them on trenchcoats, parkas, and waxed cotton motorcycle jackets – things that protect you from bad weather.
If you’re just buying your first belted coat, however, you may find yourself wondering how to wear the extra detail. Should you tie it at the front, back, or just leave it hanging? Thankfully, there are’t any rules to this; it’s mostly about style and preference. Here are five methods to consider:
- Use the Belt as Intended: The first is to use the belt as it was intended, with the belt secured by the buckle and then threaded through the keeper. If you have some extra length left, just tuck the belt behind itself at your waist. Upside: Looks nice and tidy. Downside: A bit of a hassle to do and undo.
- Cinch it Up: You can also cinch the belt up at the front, just like you would on a bathrobe. Keep the knot slightly off to the side and then tuck the loose end behind the belt itself. Oh, and make sure you’re not cinching too tight – you don’t want your waist to look like it’s the middle of two sausage links. Upside: Little fuss; no muss. Downside: The belt needs to be long enough to do properly.
- Loosely Tied at the Back: For something that stays out of your way all day, tie the belt loosely at the back. You can either loop the belt around on itself and then secure it using the buckle, or just by simply tying it. Upside: the belt will stay out of your way, but still add shape to the waist. Downside: Loosely tied belts can sometimes come undone.
- Fancy Knot at the Back: For something more secure, tie the belt at the back using a four-in-hand knot. Do everything you’d normally do for a necktie, but leave the knot somewhat loose (don’t cinch it up, as you would on your neck, otherwise the tail will be too long). For something cleaner looking, try the knot you see above. Upside: Much more secure than tying the belt loosely at the back. Downside: A bit precious looking.
- Untied: Of course, you can also just leave the belt untied. Let the ends hang loose or tuck them into the coat pockets. Or just ditch the belt altogether. Upside: You’ll have one less thing to worry about. Downside: You won’t get as much shape to the waist, although that might be OK depending on the coat’s overall silhouette.
Personally, I use methods two and three, as they’re the least fussy while still letting the belt serve a function. Plus, that front-cinch method looked pretty great on Humphrey Bogart.
(photo via Uniqlo)