Belts & Suspenders – Function Over Form

A belt “is much like the serpent, it represents eternity, fidelity/loyalty, strength, and protection. As the symbol curves around and threads back into itself, creating an eternal loop, it threads through the buckle and tightly overlaps itself.”1

If you’re shopping for a belt to look good at a formal social affair – you got the wrong website. This blog is all about function first.

Whether you’re holding up your drawers, tools, weapons, or need to make a powerful fashion statement, belts have been hanging things up since 1200 BCE. How you pick the belt best suited for you is based not only on your needs but also on the cool features available these days.

So, how do you choose the right belt? First, prioritize your goals, then compare the features and available benefits. Consider these purchase concerns:

  • Do you need it for work as part of a uniform? Will you use it with a Cal Fire belt buckle?
  • Do you work around equipment? Are you concerned about scratching a surface with a belt buckle?
  • Need to carry equipment around on your belt? How much weight?
  • Does your work require FR-rated apparel? Need arc flash protection?
  • Do you need a belt that fits all your pants? Might want to take a quick measurement. Most belts are designed to fit loops that are 1 ¼” or 1 ½”.
  • Do you go through security metal detectors?
  • What’s your cool factor? Like innovative concepts or conservative styles?
  • What about water, heat, or fire – need a belt that stands up to environmental factors?
  • How important is fit, comfort & price?

Here are some belt styles that match up with your needs.

Basic Leather

You can never go wrong with a basic leather belt. It’s what your grandfather’s grandfather wore. Most functional leather belts are made with cowhide because of the versatility, durability, and cost. Bison leather is more supple yet still durable and has a stylish appeal. The quality of cowhide can vary, though.

Look for consistent grain in the leather and feel the thickness. Belts labeled “value” or economy” usually mean they are not as thick or not full-grain leather. Although thickness is mostly a personal choice, most blue-collar folks like the toughness factor and the ability to hang tools. The term “duty belt” seems to have a variety of meanings. However, we interpret it as anything that has tactical or work-related functionality. It’s usually a very basic leather belt without fancy stitching or patterns. Although leather is naturally resistant to flames, cowhide leather can wear out quicker if it’s soaked with water and dries out frequently.

Basketweave

The basketweave pattern is embossed on present-day belts. Many refer to a basketweave type belt as a garrison belt, usually reserved for law enforcement, EMT, paramedics, firefighters, or any type of emergency personnel. Mainly used to hang equipment, like firearms, flashlights, and knives, these belts vary in thickness. The BareBones brand Garrison Basketweave belt is definitely on the thicker side and is 1 ½” wide. The basketweave pattern is also found on a type of belt called the Sam Browne belt. A Sam Browne belt is worn over a pant belt and exclusively used to hang all the arsenal a cop needs.

Fire Pro

This weaved heavy-duty fabric belt features a quick buckle/release feature, much like a seat belt buckle. The BareBones brand Fire Pro has a double Velcro size feature on each side of the belt. Its thin buckle keeps a low profile to keep from getting hung up on things. And the double prong release keeps items secure. The Fire Pro has a cool thin red line for a subtle fire professional look. The ease and functionality of this belt will, for sure, give you a one-up on your buddies.

Gut Buster

This belt wins the award for the most functional and durable belt for general use, and it’s all about the buckle. The all-nylon belt comes in light or heavy duty with a serious Velcro backing. The aircraft aluminum buckle comes in a natural look or powder-coated black finish. Inspired by wildland firefighters and even used by some SWAT guys, this belt could be a lifesaver with the usefulness of its tri-glide V-ring buckle. Plenty heavy-duty to hang the heaviest of tools without letting your gut bust.

Paint Saver

There’s nothing worse than a mechanic inadvertently scratching the surface of a car. That’s why this belt type is commonly referred to as a mechanic’s belt. The BareBones Brand Paint Saver is a thick leather belt with metal prongs that clip onto the inside holes. No metal is exposed, giving the user peace of mind and ease of working flexibility.

ARC Flash Resistant Belt

A similar no-exposed buckle type, flame-resistant (FR- arc-rated ASTM F2621) belt is available at BareBones. This FR belt is additionally treated to protect against arc-flash incidents. It’s available in plain or basketweave.

Suspenders

“Suspenders allow the waist of the trousers to remain near the physical equator, whereas with a belt, they would slip down to the Tropic of Capricorn. Thus suspenders help normalize fit for the fat and help control unsightly plumber’s butt. Suspenders also present vertical lines, which are slimming on a man.”2

Suspenders seem like the original ultimate functional piece of apparel that developed into a fashion statement for some, kinda like Tom Morello wearing a patched workwear shirt while Raging Against the Machine. Yup, it’s cool to look like you actually work for a living.

Clip-On vs. Button-Hole

The button style, otherwise known as “braces,” has been the traditional suspender approach because clasps weren’t invented until 1894. Don’t get hung up on this one. Just know the functions and limitations of each way to go. Clip-ons make it a lot easier to use if you change your pants often. But they could mess up the pant threads over time. Button styles can wear out, but new suspender buttons are readily accessible at BareBones, and they simply get punched right into the pant. Some folks don’t mind the interior button, as it creates a uniform look without the hardware. Others may not like the extra hardware hanging on them.

Leather vs. Stretchy Material

The traditional leather firefighter suspender, made by Boston Leather, is made of a natural flame-resistant material. Leather has a look and feel of heavy-duty work. However, other folks prefer more stretch in the material. You adjust leather suspenders using the classic roller buckles. BareBones stocks the traditional button attachment for the leather choice and a BareBones branded woven strap with traditional leather button attachments, both 1 ½” wide straps.

Wearing suspenders with a belt

The fashion police may pull you over for this one. We can all probably agree having your pants up with all cracks covered up is probably better for humanity. So, you’re off the faux pas hook, as long as you hooked up. There is a type of suspender that embraces the idea of belt and suspend mix – the infamous Perry’s suspenders hook onto. However you belt, no worries about ever losing your pants. And the sense of confidence might even allow you to go commando.

Some tips: It is recommended to select a belt size one size up from your pant size.

Some good news. Most retailers, like BareBones WorkWear®, only stock USA-made belts; therefore, the quality standards are excellent. The price of belts won’t ruin your life savings. Go ahead, buy a few for variety’s sake. Show off the cool features. It’s ok if you purchased it because it matched a specific function, yet it just so happened that it looks cool too.

With belts and suspenders, you can make the form by wearing it for function.

1 and 2 – Google

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