I like to think of my closet as a carefully-curated collection of my absolute favorite, essentials pieces—the ones that, as a fashion editor, I can truly vouch for: a go-to t-shirt, jean, coat, sneaker, even underwear. Because I spend my days previewing, testing, and styling so many products, I also love being a resource to family and friends outside of the industry when they have a shopping question or complaint, helping them find the best of whatever they’re looking for, in whatever specific color they like, to fit them in just the right way, and so on. There’s one item, though, that I must admit still eludes me, the one thing I had absolutely no idea how to shop for—and that’s a belt.
Unless a piece of clothing came with a belt that matched (like a sundress with one literally built into it), I avoided belts at all cost. If I wore jeans that were too baggy, I would unabashedly be hiking them up by the empty belt loops throughout the day. The belts I did own were embarrassingly dated, from my high school and college days—I’m talking ones with embroidery, braided leather, and grommets, people…. not exactly my style now. Statement belts and logo buckles have their own appeal, but I found shopping for an everyday belt—something simple, basic—surprisingly tricky: It’s hard to come by one that’s functional but stylish, good quality but not wildly expensive.
Really, there are two extremes in the belt market: cheaply-made low-quality ones that will peel apart or start fraying after a few wears, or very expensive designer ones that, somehow, will still peel apart or start fraying. Some are also too short, so you have to add extra belt holes, or too long, so you have to style them more creatively. I could never find a belt that hit all the notes I needed it to. But then I came across Upton Belts, and my whole outlook changed.
Starting at at $120, Upton’s belts are made in the USA, made-to-order, monogrammable, and comparable to high-end designer ones on the market that sport a much higher price tag. There are three styles that vary slightly in design: the Knox (which has a wider strap and bigger buckle for a casual look), The Fifty (which has a thinner flat strap and a smaller buckle for smart-casual styling), and the Duke (which has the same dimensions as the Fifty, but with a rounded, domed surface for dressier occasions.) They’re available in full grain smooth and pebbled leather, as well exotic options; the buckles come in a range of finishes, from brass to matte nickel.
To ensure the perfect fit, Upton gives you step-by-step instructions to measure yourself for a belt size, which you then select, along with your pant size. If you really don’t want to get up, you can request for Upton to send you a fit kit, which has more directions and a measuring tape. The belt comes with three holes, with the middle one corresponding to your determined size and the other two allowing for tighter or looser wear; each order comes with a hole punch tool, as well as instructions on how to add extra holes, should you need.
My favorite Upton style is The Fifty, which I own in smooth black leather with a black buckle. It’s everything that I wanted in a belt: minimal, sleek, yet still unique-looking. Most importantly, it fits perfectly and holds beautifully to wear.
Here’s the twist: I share my Upton belt with my husband. Sure, we wear them on different holes—and he wears a suit everyday, while I’m usually in trendier clothing—but someway, somehow, The Fifty works for the both of our lifestyles and wardrobes: jeans, skirts, dresses, suiting… This is great, in theory, but it’s also created a problem when we’re both wanting to wear it—we need to call “dibs on the Upton belt” or forfeit ownership for the occasion. (Growing up without sisters, I never thought I would have to share my closet with anyone, but here I am, fighting over a belt to go with my Off-White look with my husband, who wants it for his suit.)
Sure, we could easily purchase another one to have in our rotation. But there’s something extremely satisfying about being able to share this perfectly-crafted accessory, therefore doubling its cost per wear. Trendy logo belts and Insta-famous buckles can fade after a couple of seasons, but if you need something that can hold your pants up and live in your closet for years, then you need this.