When you need to dress well for work you will likely be wearing a suit or at least business casual. Making sure your belt buckle doesn't let down the entire outfit is key to feeling and looking your best each day at work. After almost 3 years of design and research and 100s of interviews with men we have been able to identify the 3 most important factors to consider in the belt buckle specifically.
A suit belt buckle should have zero visible branding
A suit or business casual is the one men's outfit where the belt and belt buckle are on display literally 100% of the time. It is unheard of to wear a suit or dress up for the office and not have your shirt tucked in (unlike casual where its typically out). This means the belt and more specifically buckle are on display. This is why dress belts are typically chosen as the right belt buckle for a suit. The dress belt has (should have) a plain metal buckle but fashion brands overwhelming choose to use that little space as a billboard for their own logo.
This puts their logo in competition with both your outfit and the brand of the company you work for. It is at best off-putting and at worst counter to the values of your employer or business. Simply don't do it. This is not to say don't buy a brand. Just ensure that you don't buy a belt with a visible brand/logo on the belt buckle when it's going to be worn with a suit.
The belt buckle should be hard wearing
An office environment might not be the kind of place where you expect to find the kind of harsh conditions like you might find in outdoor work however just the day to day still means heat, moisture, friction and sunlight.
All of these things represent an opportunity to degrade a material so what your suit belt buckle is made from has a huge impact on how it will last over the coming months and years.
The majority of belts that look nice the day you buy them will look worn, faded or downright terrible in a year or so. The reason for this is they are made with a cheap metal, typically a zinc alloy, that has then been coated or plated with something else to make it look shiny and new.
This plating or coating comes off under even mild conditions and what you are left with is a belt buckle that looks janky. It can be the first thing people see when worn with your suit. If you see the words XYZ coated or plated then look for another alternative.
The right material for suit belt buckle is a highly durable, hard material such as stainless steel, palladium (expensive) or titanium (even more expensive). If the buckle is made from a single material it is still subject to wear and tear but all this does is reveal more of the same material underneath.
In some cases with things like brass or silver the metal develops a patina, which is the belt buckle equivalent of a wine getting better with age. This quality is desirable and typically strengthens the material surface and can also be removed if desired.
The buckle should be comfortable when seated
A suit or business casual is typically worn in an office and working in that environment is usually seated at a desk for large chunks of time. A suit belt buckle needs to be as comfortable as possible when in a chair which means it needs to sit flat, curve around the waist and not create a hard / sharp upper edge that would dig into the gut of the wearer.
This is why dress belts are the default for wearing with a suit but even simply having a dress belt isn't the complete solution.
If the belt buckle is very flat, has hard edges it might look nice and modern but will often be super uncomfortable when seated.
Ideally what you want is a buckle with a curve that follows the natural, organic curve of a men's waist. It should ideally have some rounding on the top and bottom edges so it's not as jarring when you are sitting or lean over. This has the added advantage of not trying to compete with the suit or shirt either.
Is it interchangeable
Whilst the old adage of 'match your shoes and belt' is still partially true what is really true is that a single black belt isn't going to go with everything. A suit belt buckle that allows for the belt strap to be swapped out so you can have an alternative colour to black means your belt is going to go better with more variations in your overall outfit.
The challenge or problem with most buckles that offer this flexibility is they don't last that long so making sure if you do buy an interchangeable or reversible belt that it comes with some form of guarantee of quality and workmanship so you're not back buying a belt again in a year.
Buying the perfect belt to go with your suit or business casual means paying close attention to the belt buckle as it's going to be visible all the time. Ensuring no branding, a solid hard wearing metal and curves for comfort when seated will give you a far better outcome. For bonus points if it enables changing out the belt colour then you're on to a winner.
As you'd expect YOKU is a fully interchangeable men's belt that has no branding, no moving parts and is made from stainless steel or titanium. It is perfect to wear with a suit or business casual.