When I was a kid, “getting the belt” was one of the most feared prospects for punishment (my folks were definitely Old School… probably because they were OLD to begin with — 47 and 44, back in 1968). I’ll spare you the gory details. I also promise to make this article a lot less scary than my childhood memories as you learn your best options of “getting the belt” when it comes to mens work belts.
Just say ‘no’ to Crack — Wear a Belt!
Plumbers have quite the reputation:
- loud and obnoxious
- speak with New Yawk accents (see: loud and obnoxious)
- pushy and condescending
- always Italian and have a penchant for finding gold coins, magic mushrooms and critters down in the pipes
- frequently show off their butts to the world
Of course, not all of this is fair, let alone true (just don’t tell Mario and Luigi).
But for those who have experienced the so-called “plumber’s butt” up close and personal, it is one of those things that can not be unseen.
I never worked in the world of plumbers — apart from a few months as a resort maintenance man, where plumbing issues were common yet my mentors never showed off that much, thanks largely to the green jumpsuits we were all forced to wear.
I did, however, find myself around a LOT of dudes in the delivery business that hung more than their fair share of ‘moons’ while hauling furniture, boxes of office supplies, or copiers in and out of locations along our daily routes.
What did every one of these oblivious exhibitionists have in common?
None of them wore belts.
This made their whining in the wintertime almost unbearable as they constantly complained louder than the howling winds about cold drafts and numb keesters.
Yes, during the months dominated by the white stuff, keeping yourself covered is when it counts the most — for ALL OUR SAKES.
I will now go over a few of the items and ways you can avoid showing off more than the rest of us can bear (bare?).
This will be essential during winter, natch, but will also be appreciated throughout the entire year.
How you do it will depend on your style and comfort preferences.
Just make sure to do it: Say ‘no’ to crack! For the love of Pete!
A Trip Around the Belt Way
Let’s be honest:
Of all the clothing items you need to buy, BELTS should be the least complicated decision for a hard-working dude.
All you need to do is quickly determine three things:
- Do I prefer the feel and strength of leather, or do I want something softer running around my girth — like web cloth?
- What type of buckle do I like best?
- What color do I want?
The choices given us for any of these three deciding factors can be numerous, but they are easily figured out.
Leather is tough — can last for years (just make sure it’s not bonded leather, where a thin outer skin is glued or sewn to a cheap cloth or vinyl inner layer; what the clothing article’s construction consists of is usually printed on the belt’s inside).
But it is also stiff and can dig into your gut when bending over or squatting. Just sayin’.
Here, your color choices are limited: Typically black or brown. There are, however, quite a few designs to be found, either engraved or inlaid into the animal hide material itself.
Cloth is much softer and comes in a greater choice of colors and patterns.
Military ‘web’ belts are the most durable. Makes sense that the armed services would come up with the most rugged items for their uniforms.
HELPFUL TIP: Always check the size of your loop holes on your work pants before purchasing a belt.
You don’t want to wind up with a belt that’s too wide — you’ll just never slip it through, especially if it’s leather.
HELPFUL TIP #2: Always buy one size up from your actual waist size.
This’ll give you enough room to put the buckle through one of the pre-drilled holes without having to break out the scratch-awl and hammer and make your own holes (been there, done that — messed up a few fine belts in the process).
As for the buckles themselves, you can let the thickness of your fingers make the choice for you:
The fatter the fingers, the bigger the buckle. Makes it easier to fasten than those dainty, Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clasps.
With the military web cloth belts, they often come without any buckle — especially if you buy the real deal, such as at an Army/Navy store. But the best buckle for this style is usually merchandised to be on display right near by — a metal type with an inner, rough-edged slider bar that grips the belt wherever you place it by a single backward tug. There are also metal jaws to grip onto the end of the belt — the side without a metal cap (you might need to trim the belt with scissors to fit).
At one time, the only choices were brass or silver. Now there’s all kinds of painted or engraved finishes — good for those of us that don’t want to feel like we’re getting dressed for inspection.
Don’t want to give those finicky bosses any ideas!
But what if at the end of the day you conclude that belts are simply not your thing?
Still — you don’t like to have to keep pulling your pants back up every time you get up (knowing you might have just given your co-workers a good show). What then?
At this point, you have two choices should you decide to remain belt-less.
The first is for those who’ve been injected with an extra ounce of self-confidence at birth:
Suspending Your Disbelief (in Mens Work Belts)
Always been itchin’ to hook your thumbs at your chest and puff your chest with pride — jus’ like Grampa?
Or maybe you just want to show gravity who’s boss without feeling like you’re giving your hips rope-burn?
Then maybe suspenders will do the trick for you.
Sure, you’re bound to receive a lot of comments and good-natured ribbing (hopefully good-natured), and your co-workers might have to introduce you as “the guy always seen in suspenders,” but it would be well worth all the attention if you enjoy letting your shoulders do all the “heavy lifting” of your pants instead of your waistline.
Never wore ’em myself, but I knew plenty of dudes that did.
They never complained; the style fit their personalities, and it became their signature look.
A number of choices in this department, too — pretty much like with belts, in regard to fabrics, colors, and widths.
The best selection I’ve seen on the market — no joke! — is once again at Duluth Trading Company.
Suspenders for any work-related situation or body shape/size you can think of. And they certainly appear to be built to last.
I was actually tempted to try some out after looking over one of their catalogs and their website.
But I chickened out.
Just not enough Gordon Gecko in me, I suppose.
Or Bill Lumbergh, for that matter.
Then there’s your second belt-less choice:
Cover Me — I’m Going In: The Longtail Shirt Option
My next article will be going into greater detail about shirts in general.
Heck, it might take more than a couple posts to tackle all the layers of this topic!
But since we’re talking about avoiding getting grins, snickers, and gasps at the sight of where the Good Lord split ya, I thought I should just quickly mention there is one other way to stay “modest” without all the usual belt suspects:
Wearing an extra-long undershirt or tee shirt tucked into your pants.
Buying at least two sizes up from the offerings at your local ‘big box’ stores would be one way to go.
But here again, Duluth Trading Company comes to the rescue:
They’ve practically made hiding heinies the cornerstone of their clothing establishment!
A lot of their tees and undershirts come 3 inches longer than your basic brands — a detail they never get tired of bragging about.
For good reason: A lot of folks have come to appreciate the comfort and durability of these shirts, how they resist any shrinkage and take forever to fade — if they even do.
Crew and v-necks? Check. Henleys? Oh, you betcha. Polos? Yep — they got those, too.
And the ‘staying tucked’ aspect?
Let’s just say the extra length consistently covers a multitude of sins.
I got a sleeveless tee from them once as a gift — years ago.
It still looks as bright and ready-for-action as the day I got it.
And it still works hard at ‘dodging the draft,’ if ya get my meanin’.
Worth the few extra bucks to get these?
My gift shirt aside, the money I would have spent by now on other cheaper brands of tees and undershirts would have far surpassed any extra cabbage that I plunked down for my purchase of the DTC products.
In that way, my money got stretched.
Not my shirt.
My belt size, on the other hand…
We won’t go there.
Keeping It Above the Belt
Well, that should just about do it, folks…
We’ve gone over everything from the waist down (other than mentioning the ‘unmentionables,’ but that’s a discussion best saved for warmer weather issues).
Boots, socks, pants, and now mens work belts.
Now we’ve got to look at everything we wear to work “from nave to chops,” as that crazy ol’ Bard Bill Shakespeare would have said.
Actually, we’ll go all the way up to your noggin. Hats matter!
But since we’ve already started the discussion on shirts, that’s where we’ll pick up next time we get together here at Tuff Duds.
Hope you didn’t get whiplash from all this talk about belts!
Be sure to let me know by leaving a comment! Much obliged!
Until we meet again — keep those pants high and those feet dry!