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A Short History of the Humble Belt

A Short History of the Humble Belt

A belt is a staple in the wardrobe of all men and most women. It serves both an essential function as well as a fashionable one. At its most basic, a belt is worn to keep one’s trousers up. Yet even in ancient times, belts were worn for much more than this – and gender and status played a big part in the wearing of a belt.

Here are some interesting facts about the history of belts…

  • Even back as far as twelve thousand years ago, men wore a waistcloth that represented a symbol of their social and political status.
  • During the Bronze Age, metal belts were commonly worn.
  • Primitive cultures still wear belts as amulets today. They are believed to fight diseases and evil spirits.
  • What is a belt? It’s simply a band of rope, metal, fabric or leather that supports or gathers clothing at the waist (or above the hip). In the past, belts also carried tools, weapons, and other objects used in daily life.
  • Archaeologists have found evidence in almost every civilization of belts being used to signify status, power, wealth, and elegance, and this was often denoted in belt buckles.
  • Roman soldiers wore belts to show their rank as well as to carry weapons, with sheaths included in the belt to carry daggers and swords. Roman slaves had no rank at all; hence they wore no belt at all.
  • Belts have significance in religion. Catholic priests wear a rope belt that has three knots which represent the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
  • Women really began wearing belts as the norm in the Renaissance period. These belts were softer and more eye catching, often elaborately decorated, and either buckled or knotted.


For the most part, over the last five hundred years, in western society the belt has lost most of its symbolism, and is predominantly a clothing and fashion accessory. It can bring a look together and serves both for function and style.

In the 1920s, Levi Strauss and Co first had the idea to place loops for belts on jeans – and as such, the need for wearing suspenders was eliminated. Other trousers were soon designed to incorporate belt loops.


Why wear a boring belt? There will naturally be times when you need to wear a very basic, neutral belt, but why not bring out your own sense of style at other times with a beautiful handmade leather belt from United Streets of Art? All of our belts are crafted from genuine leather, and printed with an eclectic range of unique designs that are inspired by the urban landscape. Check out our range today – we are certain you’ll find something you love!

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