Belts and you
August 11, 2005 11:30 AM   Subscribe

I've got belt issues. (of the clothing variety)

Belts are excellent devices for holding pants up. I think we can all agree on that. And a belt seems to be a good thing to wear with a nice shirt and pants. However, I really dislike belts when I'm sitting down. The buckle makes me uncomfortable, and since my office job requires me to be sitting down for most of the day, this can start to wear on a person.

Suspenders seem like they might be an alternative, but I really thing my coworkers would giggle if I started wearing them.

So... what are my options here? What's the best, most comfortable way to hold your pants up all day long?
posted by selfnoise to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total)
I think you might need to try different sizes/styles of pants. See if you can get something with a comfortable fit, but that will stay up without a belt.
posted by Specklet at 11:40 AM on August 11, 2005

Although this may be related to your girth, perhaps you should simply try purchasing a belt with a smaller buckle. Belt shopping is easy. Aside from sunglasses, it's probably one of the few items that you don't have to got to the dressing room to try on. I also recommend wearing a t-shirt under your dress shirt. I find this helps to keep the pants up and prevents discomfort from the buckle.

Suspenders are a gateway drug. Soon you'll be trying on bow ties and top hats.
posted by quadog at 11:49 AM on August 11, 2005

What, exactly, makes you uncomfortable about wearing belts when you're sitting down? Would it be correct to assume that the belt buckle digs in to your stomach and/or groin? And that you've already tried wearing belts with smaller buckles, or ones whose top and bottom edges are more rounded? Also, although this may be somewhat impolitic to ask, do you have more weight around that region than you should?

I've never had a problem, personally, with wearing belts, which is why I'm asking all of the above questions. Belts are good things for a man to wear, so don't give up on them yet.
posted by Johnny Assay at 11:52 AM on August 11, 2005

Response by poster: I have kind of a stupid beer/internet belly, yeah. Sorry, should have made that clear.

Part of the problem, also, is that I have this weird body with a really long chest/trunk and short legs (damn genetics) so I often end up buying pants that fit okay, but are designed for someone who has longer legs.

I probably haven't tried as many belts as I should.
posted by selfnoise at 12:08 PM on August 11, 2005

I've got some strategic energy reserves in that area too.

I haven't had any problems since I set about finding pants that fit well. It might also help that I always wear an undershirt, and that my belt buckles tend to be of average size, and lacking any sharp edges.
posted by mosch at 12:22 PM on August 11, 2005

Use a smaller buckle, and turn the belt around so that the buckle is on your side. No more pain and an alternative fashion statement to boot. If you think it will look stupid then find a belt with a flat, covered buckle which is the same colour as the belt.
posted by fire&wings at 12:30 PM on August 11, 2005

Maybe the problem is related to the way your pants fit? I have a similar body shape and when I buy dress slacks I always get "longs" which have a longer crotch (i.e. the distance between the crotch and the waistband is longer). I could see how a belt would be uncomfortable if I were to wear regulars - the waistband would end up lower down on my torso and get in the way.
posted by mullacc at 12:43 PM on August 11, 2005

This sounds like a problem with your pants. Buy a nice pair of pants and get them tailored. They should take in your seat and cut them to the right length. This should solve your problem, you're not wearing your pants Lee Ioccoca style right?
posted by geoff. at 12:46 PM on August 11, 2005

to my mind there are two tricks to belt-comfort: 1) pliability; 2) adjustability. i despise leather belts with holes because they are lacking in both of the aforementioned categories.

i prefer belts with minimal but infinitely adjustable buckling devices crafted out of flexible nylon webbing. i have several, many of them were made by bison designs. i suppose, if you don't live in the west or you work in some fancy office they may not suffice on a professional level, but they're more than acceptable where i live.
posted by RockyChrysler at 1:19 PM on August 11, 2005

Also consider this: if you are ok standing up, but not sitting down, adjust your sitting posture. "Proper" posture when sitting should have your upper body just as upright as when standing (unless you slouch then, too). Sitting slumped over can make even a smaller belt buckle poke into your stomach, even if you don't have much of a belly (speaking from experience). Watch your posture, think about a different seating arrangment - is your chair/desk/keyboard/monitor combination set up fairly ergonomically, or do you need some adjustments?
posted by attercoppe at 1:29 PM on August 11, 2005

I have the same problem, and I'm a skinny guy. I either unbuckle it or remove it entirely, putting it back on if I'm going to be seen. This won't work in many office settings, I'll admit, but it works for me.

I own just one belt. I've worn it since I was a kid, and I can't see any reason to get another one. Perhaps a different-sized buckle would do the trick (it is largeish), but I like it.
posted by waldo at 1:41 PM on August 11, 2005

Belts are for people with waists.

Suspenders are for the more well-rounded individual.

Never wear both at the same time.
posted by Rash at 1:51 PM on August 11, 2005

If you think sitting down with a belt is irritating, wait until you sit down with your new suspenders -- they will go slack and not stay against your chest, flopping around and getting in the way of stuff.

Try before you convert, I say. The couple of times I have worn suspenders (weddings etc.) I have gotten to the point where I want to tear then off, or just take them off my shoulders and hang down from my waist (and look like a total idiot)
posted by misterbrandt at 2:13 PM on August 11, 2005

Suspenders can be concealed and kept out of the way with a vest, and a vest can look smart and stylish, rather than old-fashioned, especially if you get a good one and coordinate. (And don't go through quadog's gateway to the bow-tie and hat route :) Also, you can always try them out by spending a few bucks at a thrift store to get a range of them, try them out at home, if it doesn't work for you, no loss, if it does, go and buy some good ones.

Tailored clothing always helps with fit and looks far far better on you. So perhaps try some tailored pants (and a tailored vest if you go that route)
posted by -harlequin- at 3:08 PM on August 11, 2005

I am going to go opposite of the wisdom expressed and tell you to get a wider buckle. My favorite belt has a big brass buckle. Think of pressing a silver dollar against your stomach rather than a quarter-- the quarter will cause you more discomfort.

Don't go too big or the buckle will likely have a soaring eagle or a silhouette of texas on it. And then your coworkers will really have a laugh.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:38 PM on August 11, 2005

really thing my coworkers would giggle if I started wearing them.

How do you dress at work? Do you wear a suit? If so, then I think you can wear suspenders with out the giggles.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 3:55 PM on August 11, 2005

Best answer: I had the same problem: long torso, short legs. Depending on the dress code of your workplace, a webbing-type belt might be a better solution than a standard leather one. (At least, that's what I think cloth belts are called.)

The heavy fabric that they're made out of is much less stiff against the skin than leather, and the buckle doesn't need to be much wider than the belt itself.

Plus, they look pretty cool as a contrast line of colour between a nice dress shirt and pants.
posted by generichuman at 4:06 PM on August 11, 2005

Response by poster: Wow, this question turned out better than I had expected. Thanks, everyone! I'll try to respond to some comments below.

Mosch- Thanks for that creative description of the gut region... I almost spit my tea onto the monitor reading that. It's been officially inserted in my vernacular.

Various peoples - I'll think about getting some stuff tailored, but the issue is that I'm cheap and broke, so we'll have to see whether that's economically feasible. Good idea though.

Various peoples - Thanks for all the advice on suspenders. I'll just have to try them at some point and see what I think.

Steve - My workplace is "business casual" whatever the hell that means. I usually wear an oxford-type shirt and pants to work. I might be able to hide it under a vest or something in the winter, as harlequin suggested.

Generichuman - That sounds interesting, but I don't quite know what sort of belt you mean. Might you have a weblink to such a belt? Thanks!
posted by selfnoise at 5:04 PM on August 11, 2005

Response by poster: Update: I got a cloth belt from LL Bean with a smaller buckle and discovered that it was really the hard leather of the other belt that was bothering me and not the buckle so much. Thanks, everyone!
posted by selfnoise at 7:07 AM on August 16, 2005

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