Origins of ordinary things: Belt

Belts can be traced back to the Bronze Age between 3300 and 1200 BCE. Net photo.

Despite being rather small in size and unobtrusive at times, a belt can definitely make or break an outfit. The Journal reveals that the earliest documentation of male belts goes all the way back to the Bronze Age between 3300 and 1200 BCE.

Military girdle bands worn around the waist and designed to keep weapons in place are considered the first belts in history. Leather belts were also very popular in Greek and Roman military due to their flexibility and durability which granted freedom of movement and some protection.

The belt, however, has not only played an important role in military and, later, in fashion, but also in dream interpretation in some cultures. Belts were even honoured so highly in the Mongolian culture that their exchange was used to seal alliance.

During the 17th Century, the use of belts for military ID grew more prominent, with the Thirty Years War in the early 1600s being one major example.

Belts were primarily worn by men during this time period and the 1700s, women’s fashion largely doing away with the belt for some time. In the 1930’s became a time when more women experimented with wearing pants, consequently requiring belts to hold them up.

Around this time, men also began to wear belts once more. Having grown used to them from serving in World War I, suspenders became less and less common in terms of everyday wear, eventually becoming relegated to underwear status.

Belts of the 30’s, especially for women, were on the slimmer side compared to many of their predecessors. Pants started to feature belt loops as a standard feature, only increasing the popularity and ubiquity of the belt.

Even so, the relative fragility of the buckle on women’s belts was still an issue, made from easily broken materials. However, this did open up many options for stylisation, with the buckle being more for decorative purposes than anything else with numerous unique designs.

In the 1960’s, one major change to how belts were worn was their location; specifically, this meant they lowered from the waist to the hips. Keeping many of the stylistic signifiers, including their width, colours, and materials, these belts were somewhat similar to the previous decade.

One addition, however, was the increased usage of metal in belts, especially towards the end of the decade. Some belts were even made almost entirely from metal, giving off the appearance of jewelry. This is according to JooJoobs.

The variety of belts has exploded during the last years; from classic belts to braided belts, from sports belts to dress belts, from belts made out of faux leather to exotic leathers, from elastics to wool, you can find virtually any kind of belt in numerous colours.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com