For the last two years, I’ve worn the same simple black leather belt. I don’t even put it away. I just take off my pants and leave the belt slung through the belt loops until it’s time to wear the pants again.
Recently though, I’ve noticed that my leather belt is starting to fall apart, particularly near the belt holes. What was once a single piece of leather has split into three different layers. According to one person on the Men’s Style forum, that’s likely because my belt is bi-cast leather — i.e., “a split layer attached with a polymer layer and probably stamped/embossed to make it look like leather.” Basically, what I thought was a leather belt is really just loose, fibrous mesh held together with the faux polymer layer, which explains why the area where the holes are punched in has started to fray. “That’s typically the weakest part of the belt,” the Men’s Style forum commenter adds.
Nonetheless, I can’t imagine it helps that I’ve never taken the time to properly store my belt. According to an employee at Degree 21, a leather tanner, this is best done in a cool, dry place since any type of moisture will harm the leather. A quick way to create such storage space is to “hammer a finishing nail to the inside of your closet and hang your belts from any hole,” per a subscriber to the Male Fashion Advice (MFA) subreddit.
But if you’re looking for a slightly more considered approach, TheModestMan.com recommends installing a sliding belt rack. “[They] work similarly to the slides attached to your kitchen drawers,” the site explains. “You can install them on the side of a cabinet, inside of your armoire or even inside of a basic closet provided you have room on either side of the door.”
All of which sounds great, albeit slightly complicated. After all, can’t I just roll the damn thing up and stuff it in a dresser drawer?
“Ideally, you want to hang your belt by the buckle,” a different MFA subscriber tells me. “Leather belts are susceptible to cracking, both while stored or when being unrolled.”
If you must roll, however, you should at least start at the buckle end and roll toward the tail. That way, The Modest Man says, you’ll avoid the roll from being too tight, which will damage or deform your belt.
For me, though, I think the real issue is how cheap my belt is — a split-cast leather belt is going to fall apart near the holes no matter how well I store it. My best course of action then is to get a belt made from a single piece of leather. No glue. No polymers. And no need to push holes in my closet.