As I was looking through some old pictures one picture in particular caught my attention and not for a good reason. Actually, I really like the picture, but what struck me about the picture was how bad my belt looked. It was far too casual for the wool trousers as well as the event. It was time for me to invest in a belt better suited for dressier occasions.
I already knew what I wanted, an engine-turned buckle on a crocodile strap, but per usual what I want and what I can afford are not the same thing. The buckle that I wanted is the gold standard of engine-turned buckles, the Tiffany & Co. buckle, but at $225 it was not going to happen. The same goes for the crocodile belt strap, just too expensive. I needed a more affordable alternative.
What is engine-turned? It is a fine geometrical pattern inscribed into metal. Designs vary as illustrated below.
Luckily I have known others in the same boat as myself and I did what they did. I purchased an etched rhodium over brass 1” buckle from Trafalgar for $55 (See here) which they engraved with my initials at no extra cost. I then ordered a brown crocodile embossed 1” hole less strap from Beltmaster for $19 (See here). I ended up having to take the strap to my cobbler to be shortened which cost me a whole $5. All in all I ended with what I think is a pretty nice looking belt for under $100.
I haven’t worn the belt enough to give any detailed feedback, but I can offer a few thoughts. First, get your buckle engraved with your initials. It won’t look quite right without them and they add so much to the buckle. Also, remember that it is standard for men to use block letters and first, middle, last name order when adding monograms to anything. Second, I have heard that my strap may wear down after use which will result in the inability to “latch,” but at $15 a pop I should just be able to replace it without too much distress. Hopefully my new belt will catch my eye for the right reasons the next time that I am revisiting old pictures.