Vintage slide buckle and alligator strap — Went shopping for vintage furniture, ended up finding this tucked into a display case next to a leather gun holster and a pair of binoculars for $12.50. 

BeltCraft custom belts — I thought this was a cool company worth checking out. BeltCraft lets you design your own belt and hand makes it for you in just a few weeks. 

You can pick from a wide selection of full-grain leathers and also suedes. The hardware is all brass and the belts are made in New York. Prices average around $65, which I think makes them relatively affordable in comparison to what you see from a lot of retailers. 

I’ll likely give them a spin myself and buy one in a few weeks (moving costs are taking a priority over wardrobe items right now), but check out their online builder tool and see the options available. I think it looks pretty cool.

BeltCraft custom belts — I thought this was a cool company worth checking out. BeltCraft lets you design your own belt and hand makes it for you in just a few weeks.

You can pick from a wide selection of full-grain leathers and also suedes. The hardware is all brass and the belts are made in New York. Prices average around $65, which I think makes them relatively affordable in comparison to what you see from a lot of retailers.

I’ll likely give them a spin myself and buy one in a few weeks (moving costs are taking a priority over wardrobe items right now), but check out their online builder tool and see the options available. I think it looks pretty cool.


It’s on sale: Chicago Belt Co. — If you’re into preppy ribbon belts with a Midwest bent, then you should know that Chicago Belt Co. has 20% off everything with code FALL. They’ve recently added leather tabbed belts and braided cotton belts, too. 


Political #menswear

Tonight marks the first presidential debate for the 2012 general election and it’s a time when partisans should be encouraged to show their affiliation. Now, there’s a lot of crass and tasteless ways to do this through clothing (just take a look at the junk on Zazzle, CafePress or even eBay), but for those looking for the love of politics and menswear, I’ve put together this guide. 



Vineyard Vines: $75, available in red, yellow, green and salmon pink for Republicans. For Democrats, blue and green.

Southern Proper: $75, available in a huge range of colors and designs. Wovens in red, crimson and purple; repp stripe in blue (above); printed in red, crimson and blue; another printed GOP elephant on red silk; and political elephants and donkeys surrounded by stars.

Sette Neckwear: $265, available in three designs each for Democrats and Republicans. Elephant print in red, blue and purple. Donkey print in blue, scarlet and yellow. (These 7-fold ties are my personal favorite.)



Tucker Blair: $95, needlepoint belt. 

Vineyard Vines: $49.50, canvas cotton belt available for Republicans and Democrats.

Smathers & Branson: $165, needlepoint belts for both Republicans and Democrats. 


Prince Albert Slippers:

Stubbs & Wootton: $450, for Republicans, Democrats and fence-sitters.



Fine & Dandy Shop: $65, for Republicans, Democrats and the annoyingly undecided.


Shorts and Trousers:

Orvis: $15.20 (on sale), in Republican red and Democrat blue. 

Bonobos: $125, critter chinos in navy for Republicans and charcoal for Democrats.


It’s on sale: Chicago Belt Co. — Use discount code “summer" to receive 40% off (plus free shipping) on all items at Chicago Belt Co. right now. The company features a great selection of cotton D-ring belts with ribbons featuring some unique designs to the Chicago area and surrounding Great Lakes region. 

Sale ends Monday, August 13th.


Review: Filson 256 Briefcase & Belt

For a good three to four month stretch I spent a lot of time looking into getting a better briefcase. I looked at all sorts of models, makers and materials and read way more reviews and threads on StyleForum than I probably needed to read. 

While I was content with my leather briefcase, there were a few things I wasn’t entirely happy about. It was heavy, it was hard to stuff extra things into (like a change of clothing or a jacket/sweater) because of the interior padded laptop compartment and I wasn’t a fan of the rigid dividers. 

Plus, I wasn’t really sure that I needed a leather briefcase anymore — it felt like overkill for the new job. I couldn’t really bring it with me casually to carry stuff for a day trip, nor could I even fit my Fujifilm X-10 in it (and that’s a pretty small camera, too). 

I felt that instead of going with a leather bag, I’d look into canvas instead. The obvious choice is to go with Filson. Everyone who has one raves about it. I’d seen them several places and thought they certainly could do the job. But I looked around some more. 

In the end though, Filson was the only one that really impressed me. I’m sure others will rave about their preferences, and that’s fine. But I trusted the Filson name, the large volume of support it has from others who have had them for years and the design appealed to me in several ways. 

I wanted one with a zip-top so I could seal it and make sure nothing valuable inside would fall out. I also wanted a flap to cover the zipper so it could keep water out in the event I got caught in the rain. The side stash pockets were a nice bonus on the outside of the 256 model and the interior’s dividers worked well enough for my needs. 

I’ve been using the bag since April and the stiffness of the cotton canvas is beginning to go away. The bridle leather straps are really great (probably the only thing I was really worried about), but they probably could use some leather conditioner soon. 

My biggest gripe though is the shoulder strap, which doesn’t stay on my shoulder very well and the shoulder pad is virtually worthless. I also feel the strap is too long and has a lot of excess leather that kind of flaps around when it’s set on the shortest hole on the adjustment buckle. I’m considering finding someone to make a new custom strap for me that’ll be more useful. 

As far as being able to carry my stuff, you can see the images below that I’ve stuffed it really damned full of things. I put a Barbour Liddesdale, a Macbook Pro 13” with leather sleeve and power supply, notebook, mini umbrella and my X-10 camera all in the bag’s interior. Probably overkill, but it does fit and that doesn’t even include the exterior pockets. 

I was impressed enough with the bridle leather straps on the briefcase that I also decided to pick up a 1.5” wide belt from them, too. I found that skinner belts just didn’t look right on denim that had wider loops, so this belt worked out just fine. As far as sizing goes, I just went true to size (i.e.: I wear a 34” trouser, so I bought a 34” belt). 

As far as belts go, a lot of people make great leather belts, but I felt the price of this one was very reasonable at around $50. I wear it almost daily. It’s a really dark shade of brown, but I don’t mind much about that. It looks good, feelts great and does its job. 

If you’re looking to buy something from Filson, then please take a look at Hilton Tent City. Use code FSNREG11 to get 15% off all Filson products they stock. Plus, you get free shipping on orders over $50. That’s pretty much the cheapest price on Filson products you’ll find on the web (and, yes, I spent a lot of time looking). Their site is a little old, but they delivered quickly and I didn’t have any problems with them. They even have Filson’s “Red Label” tote bags in stock. 


Graduation gift guide: slide belt buckle

The graduation gift guide continues into day three as I explore gift ideas for those leaving academia and entering the working world. 


Slide belt buckle — If the graduate is likely to find themselves at a job where they’ll be wearing dress trousers daily, then investing in a quality belt buckle might not be such a bad idea. The slimmer, 1” size of the buckle can be used with a variety of leather straps and swapped quickly.

If you don’t know the graduate’s size, then buy them the buckle and a gift card to a store where they can purchase a strap on their own (straps can be found at Brooks BrothersRalph Lauren, Paul Stuart and lots of other places). Add a monogram and you’re all set with a great personalized gift they can easily use every day.

Again, which metal to go with will likely depend on what other metal items they wear. My preference is to wear gold buckles with brown leather and silver buckles with black leather. However, I do think that silver can be put with brown and look just fine, especially with darker tones like burgundy. 

I think the neatest and most classic designs look like the one above: an engine turned front with room for initials, however, a plain front would be good for those who have a more sleek, modern and casual style. 

Where to buy: Tiffany & Co.Brooks BrothersBen SilverPaul StuartRalph LaurenB.D. Jefferies


Can you recommend a good spot online for dress belts?

- Asked by Anonymous

That really depends on your budget. I think L.L.Bean has nice dress belts for the price. Or you could do what I’m going to do and wait until July to place an order with Narragansett Leathers

If you’re budget’s higher, then just visit a few high-end department stores or clothing brands and find one that’s appealing. 

ADDING: 2deuces replied:

Is there something special happening in July? For some reason I don’t consider Narragansett Leather belts to be dressy enough.

They’re not taking any orders right now until after the Fourth of July holiday. Hence the wait.

As for not being “dressy” enough, I suppose it’s all subjective. I don’t really like the super-shiny look of a lot of dress belts. I prefer a bit of a duller look on my leather, so I think their bridle leather looks pretty great and the prices are reasonable. I’m not a person who obsesses over getting the world’s most perfect shine out of his shoes — for me it’s a matter of just maintenance to help them last longer. So, kind of the same approach toward belts.


Review: The Knottery double-ring “Smith” brown suede belt — For a long time I’ve been searching for a moderately priced chocolate suede belt to wear with a pair of loafers and brogues in that color and could never find one that fit my budget. There are options available, but going north of the $100 pricepoint (or even approaching it) didn’t sit right with me for a belt I’d only wear some of the time, versus a belt in walnut tan leather, which matches most of my shoes.

Then The Knottery announced their (then) forthcoming line of belts and I was excited to see a chocolate brown suede one. So, the first day they became available, I bought one and have had the chance to wear it a few times now.

In short, it gets my thumbs up and approval. Their sizing recommendation to go 2” more than your waist size is dead on and the color matches quite well to my shoes.

My one point of caution is that when you initially receive it, the belt’s suede will rub off a bit and could potentially get on lighter-colored clothing (i.e.: white denim, light-colored chinos), so you may want to stick to using it with dark denim for the first few times. I had several pairs of shoes that did the same thing to me, so it’s not what I’d consider a huge concern.

Overall, it’s a great belt that looks nifty when worn casually. I’ve never actually owned a double-ring belt before, but I do really enjoy the ability to size to my waist exactly versus traditional belts that force you to be a more exacting size because of their punched holes.

A nice touch is The Knottery’s embossed logo on the inside of the belt, which was a detail I wasn’t expecting. The brass hardware feels substantial to me as well. The rings don’t seem cheap.

I’ve put in a suggestion for a sand suede number in the future and am crossing my fingers. For $55, this is a good buy. Get ‘em while you can, as The Knottery’s stock isn’t infinite.


I suppose I could have made this into one ask, sorry about that. Anyway, I need belt advice! I got a pair of Rigid Levi 511's last week, and I'm having a hard time deciding what color belt to wear. They're a very dark/deep indigo color if that helps. Thanks!

- Asked by Anonymous

Generally speaking, your belt should match your shoes in color (and probably material).

You could probably go really wild picking a belt out and spend some serious cash on a jean belt (generally a wider width than a dress belt) from places like Tanner Goods, Hollows Leather, Narragansett Leathers, and lots of other leather makers.

Personally, I just use L.L.Bean’s chino belt or a military surplus canvas web belt. I’d rather spend my money on other things, given that I often wear a jacket that covers my belt anyway.


Do you have any recommendations for a Black Leather belt? Something unique but still dressy enough to wear with a suit and with a silver buckle. Something that is going to be better than the typical Polo belt you find at a department store.

I’m not really big into belts. I have two leather ones. The brown one is from L.L.Bean and the black one I think I picked up at Nordstrom Rack and can’t recall the company at the moment. They’re fairly unremarkable.

Maybe if you want something unique, look at Brooks Brothers or Sid Mashburn for an engine-turned belt buckle and get a leather belt to go with it. You could have the buckle engraved with your initials.

About The Silentist

A menswear blog on finding your personal style, written by Kiyoshi Martinez.

I work at Khaki's of Carmel and live in the Monterey Bay area. Formerly from Chicago.

E-mail me, I'm fairly nice: thesilentist@gmail.com

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