The leather belt, a member of the accessory family, is often an after-thought purchase (if even considered at all). As much as the belt is functional, it is ultimately an article that complements an outfit and adds further appeal.
Contrary to popular belief, one shouldn't wear a belt out of necessity. Put simply, the role of a belt should not be to keep one's suit pant from falling but rather, should be worn because it complements a look.
Now that we have managed to get that out of the way, let's address the question: should you match your belt to your shoes? Well, it's slightly more complicated than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer so let us elaborate.
The Business or Formal Occasion
Always match your leathers. Black leather shoes, black leather belt. Brown leather shoes, brown leather belt. Pay particular attention to shades. You should match your brown belt to the particular shade of brown shoes exactly. Wearing a camel coloured leather belt with a pair of dark brown business shoes is careless and no matter how much thought you put into the rest of your outfit, will look unkempt.
The Dress Occasion
Once again, match your leathers. However, this does not apply to every style. With the wider range of styles available for a dress occasion, suddenly it’s no longer so black or brown as it is in the above situation.
If you have difficulty with matching the colour of your dress shoe exactly, try pulling out a particular tone within the leather to accentuate the colour. Or add some depth to your outfit by introducing textures. A black plaited belt provides a good entry point as it retains the formality in colour and material but the design is a little more unstructured. Wear it with a slightly woven textured black dress shoe.
The Casual Occasion
Fortunately, this occasion provides much more versatility and freedom than the formal styles. Not being tied to a certain uniform means you have room for expression in your belt choice – style, size, colour and type.
This doesn’t mean you can’t keep it straightforward; in fact, it’s probably best to keep the colours and material relatively simple unless you’re specifically looking to make a statement with your belt. Although the leather colour rule still applies, you may want to vary the shade to avoid taking your colour matching to inappropriate levels.
Another option would be to tie in your belt with the overall look by matching to another element of your outfit instead, such as your watchstrap, wallet, colours in your tee or your chinos. The key to remember is even though your belt may not match your shoes, all the different elements when put together to form the whole outfit should look effortless but thoughtful.