What do Barrack Obama, Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart, Winston Churchill, Oprah Winfrey, David Beckham and The Queen have in common?
That’s right… they’ve all worn belts!
Ok, so that might sound a bit daft, but it’s true; we all need and wear belts, they are one of life’s oft-under appreciated necessities. Whether it’s function or fashion, everyone needs at least one belt in the kit.
But where and when did they idea of wearing a belt develop? This idea made me curious, and just in case it did you to – I’ve looked in to it!
On the Origin of Belts
Early belts were far removed from today’s plethora of high fashion and stylised options. The earliest forms of belts were found in prehistoric/bronze age time and whilst you may think they would be made from animal hide, they were in fact made from softened tree bark or large pieces of fabric. These belts would be used to help carry tools or would form part of the clothing to help protect from harsh weather. Later belts would go on to be made from primitive leathers, and also bronze.
The romans were big fans of the belt, with Gladiators and Emperors were big fans. Gladiators wore decorative leather belts designed both to keep their hands free and hold their weaponry but also provide decoration (and one would presume, some form of protection). The Emperors belts were lavish and golden and used to hold their robes and togas together – an early form of the fashion belt, if you will!
During the medieval ages, Rich women sported belts purely as decorative pieces. These were delicate and eccentrically designed combining metal and leather, with a long droop around the waist. Adversely from this, the poor would use belts more for function, holding coins or other possessions in leather pouches.
The Military Belt
All throughout history, the belt has been standard issue for military uniform. These belts have provided both function and fashion (to a certain extent) to make the soldier look more muscular and statuesque by drawing in the waist.
More Modern Times
It is only around the 1920’s that belts crept back into daily life for men. Women had been using belts over a skirt/blouse, but men’s trousers were generally fitted and often didn’t even have belt loops. Oddly, some early sporting shorts or trousers had belts loops – no one wanted to be embarrassed in the heat of the action! Of course nowadays, belts are commonplace, and we celebrate those who immerse themselves into belt and buckle culture.
Belts nowadays serve similar purposes to those belts of old, holding tools and weapons (Police belts/Tool belts etc) but also for fashion.
For us, a handmade leather belt with a proper buckle on it just can’t be beaten.
I wonder what the future of belts will be?