For Christmas, my brother was generous enough to give me an engine-turned belt buckle with my monogram on it. I had previously given him one, and he returned the favor this year. It's a 1-3/16" Trafalgar buckle, in 22K gold plate over brass (neither he nor I had sterling silver in our budgets).
Although I was excited about the buckle, I was confronted with the challenge of getting a belt strap for it. Straps from Dann Online start at $60 for the glove leather models, and only go up from there (to $375 for genuine alligator). Leather straps from Brooks Brothers are normally $88, though they're currently on sale for $66. Still, I was in search of a less expensive option.
I had heard about belts from Belts.com, and in looking at their selection of Dress Leather Belt Straps, I was impressed not only with their variety, but also their prices (many start at just $16.95). However, I noticed that all of the straps came with holes in them, and due to the way that engine-turned buckles are made, the holes are unnecessary.
So I contacted the folks at belts.com asking if their dress belts were available without holes. I received an email back from Jason at Belts.com who informed me that no, their dress belts could not be ordered without holes, but suggested that I look at their "Make Your Own Width or Size" belt straps. These are plain leather belts, but the length, width, and color can be chosen by the customer, and Jason suggested that I simply note on the ordering page that I wanted it made without holes. For just $20, I figured it was worth a shot.
The belt came today and you can see it in the picture above. It did indeed come as I requested it, without holes, and the 1-1/8" width worked perfectly for my 1-3/16" wide buckle. It seems to be well-made, and the leather seems to be pretty good. It is, however, fairly thick (it measures between 4 and 5 mm in thickness), and could be considered a bit unrefined for pairing with this style of belt buckle. These things won't keep me from wearing it, but I will be looking to upgrade at some point in the future.
If you have a similar belt buckle, I would recommend the Make Your Own Width or Size option from Belts.com if you're looking for a less-dressy strap to wear with your belt. However, I really wish that they would consider offering their dress belts without holes, as I would pick up their alligator grain and smooth leather straps in a heartbeat. I'd even be willing to pay a $4 or $5 premium for the option. I'm not really sure how their manufacturing process works, but it seems like it wouldn't be that hard to keep some holeless belts in stock, and I'm sure there are some engine-turned buckle owners out there who would love to have some less expensive choices. Oh well, maybe one day...
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