A man’s belt and its buckle do more than just hold up his pants. They also make a fashion statement, and even a comment about the man himself. There’s a belt and buckle for every occasion, except the most formal. Men’s formal attire (also known as “white tie,” “top hat and tails” or “morning dress”) and semiformal attire ( AKA “black tie,” tuxedo or dinner jacket) are not worn with a belt -– and indeed, have no belt loops at all -– but with suspenders. On all other occasions, a carefully selected belt buckle is an integral part of a man’s ensemble.
The classic tang buckle consists of a closed loop and one or two tangs or prongs. The loop, which may be of any shape, is fastened to the belt on one side that usually takes the form of a straight bar. The prong (or prongs) is attached to the bar and protrudes through an opening in the belt where it folds around the bar. When the free end of the belt is passed through the loop, the prong is passed through a hole in the belt and comes to rest on the top surface of the opposite end of the loop. The free end of the belt is usually secured by a keeper.
Snap buckles come in two parts that are attached to opposite sides of the belt, one on the upper surface of one side and the other on the underside of the opposite side. The upper piece usually has two male (protruding) parts that fit tightly into opposing female (hollow) parts on the other side of the belt when pressed together.
The military buckle is used on a belt that does not have holes, but is fitted with a ridged plastic strip sewn on the inner surface of the belt. To secure the belt, this strip mates with an oppositely-ridged catch inside the buckle The catch is opened by pressing a release button on the underside of the buckle. This type of buckle is popular on a woven belt for casual wear, and may be plain, polished or antiqued metal or ornamented to the wearer’s personal taste.
The clip buckle is a flat or slightly dished plate with a bar on the underside of one end shaped rather like a towel rack, and a hooked prong at the other end. The belt is fastened to the bar and the hook engages a hole in the opposite end of the belt, which then passes through the space between the belt and the buckle plate and laps over the belt past the buckle. This is the type of buckle used on a Western or cowboy belt, and may be a trophy awarded for winning a rodeo event.
Surprisingly, a wrestling belt buckle, although on the front of the belt, is a plate fixed permanently to the belt itself and is not used to fasten the belt, which is secured by multiple snaps on each side.