What You Can Really Afford: A Decent Belt

August 5, 2019

I love wearing things into the ground. Like many guys, I repair my jeans (or pay someone more qualified to repair them for me), get my shoes resoled, and wear a lot of vintage that someone already determined was past their point of reasonable wear. I’ve reinforced threadbare patches on my fatigues. Sometimes this is in the service of aesthetics: well-worn things often look great, literally better than new. Sometimes it’s practical (I’m not totally faithful to the frugal credo “use it up, wear it out; make it do, or do without,” but I try). Even though I’m always hunting for cool new stuff, a lot of the stuff I wear, I wear essentially every day, and that sort of wear eventually destroys clothing.

Sometimes I don’t bother repairing and just wear something until the only real destination is the garbage can.

One thing I recently had to replace was a belt — a Filson bridle leather belt, in brown with a brass-finish buckle, 1.5 inches wide. I ordered my original Filson bridle leather belt in 2006, when I owned two belts, a black one and a brown one, probably both from T.J. Maxx. I wanted a wider belt to go with all the raw denim I was trying to wear in (APC Anglaise and Nudie Regular Ralfs, if I remember right). It’s been my main jeans belt ever since.

I don’t still wear a lot of the things I wore in 2006. This belt is older than my kids, who are in kindergarten; it’s older than my marriage. The Philadelphia Phillies have won the world series since I bought that belt. Wear, tear, falls, and scrapes have worn away the dark brown finish, so it’s raw and uneven. I’ve treated it with leather conditioner a couple of times but not often. It’s stretched a bit, and isn’t quite 1.5 inches wide all over anymore.

On second thought, I won’t throw this belt in the trash. But it’s still time for a new one. I recently picked up a new Filson bridle leather belt, this time at a slightly more modest 1.25 inches wide. The price has gone up — a belt that was $45 13 years ago is now $85 (the 1.25 version is $75; I also have one in black), but otherwise it seems to be the same quality belt, and it’s still reasonable for a thick leather strap and a decent buckle. I look forward to buying another one in 2032.