Types of Belts and Belt Buckles

Everybody needs a belt sometime, though the original belt may have just been invented as functional as a way to carry your sword! It was quickly realised that as well as being an useful practical item they could also be seen as statements of your wealth and position in society. They can be made of a variety of materials many of the most sough after are from natural sources.

There are of course synthetic sources such as plastics, which lend themselves to the fashion market, being cheaper and more easily customisable. Natural belts can be made mens leather belts, with cowhide the most well known. Cotton is also a popular fabric as it can be dyed into any colour whilst also being strong.

With the advent of plastic there is a massive array of material for belts either as strips of plastic or woven synthetic threads such as nylon, polyester or polypropylene.

The origin of the word BELT

The origin of the word belt is probably derived from the Latin word balteus meaning a "girdle, sword belt," it is said by Varro to originate from an Etruscan word. These were members of a civilisation that lived in central Italy around 200 BC and who influenced the Romans.

Origins of the word BUCKLE

A buckle is described as a metal ring for holding a belts, its origin is probably around 1200 - 1300 from the word bukel from the old French bocle. Later modern French used the word boucle from the Latin buccula which was a "cheek strap for a Roman helmet." Buckle has a secondary meaning of shield, though this has now fallen out of favour.

Men's leather belts

There are three types of men's leather belts; bonded leather belts, split grain leather belts or full grain leather belts. Bonded men's leather belts consist of granules of leather that are mixed with a bonding agent and finished on one side. Bonded belts are the cheapest and will last but when they wear out they tend to bend crease and eventually snap at the position where they are used most. Split leather belts are more durable and arise from a piece of leather that has split down the middle, they retain the natural fibres of the material and are hard wearing belts. Full grain leather belts are undoubtedly the best quality, they are from the thigh, where the hide is thickest, they are strong and supple and the hide will take beautiful embossed design on it.

Canvas belts

Canvas belts are becoming increasingly popular as a variety of styles are being marketed. The styles are both mens canvas belts and ladies canvas belts. Their popularity is based on the fact that they are easy to use, lightweight and comfortable and more importantly for the pocket, they last! They are adaptable so can pick up on trends such as taking design ideas from gaming, cinema or even current affairs.

Canvas belt buckles can be of a variety of different types.

The box buckle is a typical style that looks neat and easy to use though light it is slightly less durable.

Pin and roller buckles are also popular, however, the pin receiving hole often has to be reinforced with metal grommets to protect the canvas.

Clamp style buckles are becoming increasingly popular. This style of buckle lends itself to profiled images of animals, logos and emblems and can be a nice way to customise canvas belt buckles.

A box frame buckle and a pin buckle

The two most common types of belt buckle in use today are the box frame and pin buckle shown above. Examples of the pin buckle have even been found in Saxon graves such as the gold "great buckle" at Sutton Hoo.

A clamp buckle

Clamp type buckles tend to be the reserve of canvas belts and are a great look, with the advantage that you never fall between belt sizes, as you would do with a pin and roller style belt buckle. They work by having an area of teeth that grip the belt when the clamp closes on the belt.

Another type of belt buckle popular with canvas belts is the peg and loop buckle. Peg and loop buckles have a metal plate with a metal loop attached to the buckle end. A peg then passes through the hole in the belt that usually accommodates the pin in a pin belt buckle.

Belt Buckles and belt buckle collections

Because belt buckles have prominence by virtue of their central position on the body, they have always been a great opportunity to display allegiance. As a result an industry has grown up that produces images in both two and three dimensions displaying different types of designs, sporting emblems, animals, cult figures and flags are all popular.

If we take an example of rock bands, followers of 70's rock bands such as the "The Who" might take pride in displaying a "The Who" belt buckle, however, they might equally enjoy Pink Floyd and perhaps the Red Hot Chilli Peppers … a collection is born.

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