About the Author: Adam Terry is a thirtysomething salesman in the heating and manufacturing industry. He enjoys bourbon, boots, sneakers, denim, and working on his
dad bod father figure.
A lot of guys overlook buying a solid, well-made belt when they start putting together a stylish wardrobe. Many menswear writers will tell you that belts are one area that you can skimp because you can get a good everyday belt for just a few Hamiltons (editor’s note: hi that’s me he’s talking about). That may be true, but it’s getting harder and harder to find those incredible values. Budget focused shoppers today are usually left with a choice between braided nylon, subpar bonded leather, or a reversible belt where both sides look like they were made from the leftover trimmings from the butcher’s shop.
Today we’re taking a look at L.L. Bean’s Essential leather belt. For less than the price of dinner for two at the Olive Garden, you’ll snag a well-made casual belt that should last you for years.
Available in brown or black,
and most of us don’t need more than that.
The Adam Review Scale of Excellence (A.R.S.E.)
- 5 – Outstanding! Very nice and well worth the price of admission. Highly recommended.
- 4 – Very satisfactory. Above average, may have very minor issues but still worth it.
- 3 – Satisfactory. Average at best. May have notable issues, may be OK for some.
- 2 – Unsatisfactory. Below average due to defects, flaws, or other imperfections.
- 1 – Poor. Significant issues, not worth purchasing at any price. Avoid!
- Brand: L.L. Bean
- Style: Basic/Essential leather belt
- Size: 36
- Construction: Stitched leather keeper
- Details: Full-grain leather, steel buckle
- Country of Origin: USA (with global materials)
- Price: $45 USD
Leather is surprisingly good at this price.
Nice, waxy luster from a well-chosen hide.
My belt was ordered through the L.L. Bean website on a rainy Thursday afternoon. It shipped out from their Freeport, Maine warehouse the following day via UPS Ground and finally arrived on my doorstep the following Wednesday. While the delivery felt a little slow in the face of Amazon’s Prime same day service and J.Crew’s free expedited shipping for their Gold Access members (*subtle flex*), standard UPS Ground service from Freeport to Nashville is roughly three business days, so this is par for the course and should be expected. No complaints here!
FYI: L.L. Bean is famous for their “100% satisfaction guarantee” and lengthy return policy. Unfortunately, too many people were abusing the original system <–*nsfw language* and forced them to adjust the policy from an open ended discussion to a one year return policy at your expense. Still, a one year return policy is abnormal in today’s economy and should be celebrated. Note that returns will set you back $6.50 per package but that’s waived for L.L. Bean card members and those who are lucky enough to live near one of their brick and mortar retail or outlet locations.
Score: 5/5 Stars – Easy ordering, shipping was OK, and the return policy is legendary.
Brown option has some reddish/purple-ish undertones,
reminiscent of Horween’s CXL #8.
This belt shipped out in a recycled paper mailer bag. Inside the mailer, the belt was coiled up in a clear plastic bag and still had its plastic pegboard hanger attached. No complaints here.
Score: 5/5 Stars – At this price range, I’m glad the belt was real and arrived in one piece!
Fresh out of the bag, I’m already impressed with this belt. Maybe my expectations were too low, given the last few budget-friendly belts I’ve handled were of the lower quality “genuine leather” types from Target and Kohl’s. You can certainly tell that this belt is a bit nicer overall.
Crafted from 10-12 ounce leather that is full grain and thick.
The leather quality is pretty good and is notably thicker – L.L. Bean says this is full grain leather, and it definitely looks and feels like it when compared to my go-to Classic Belt from Tanner Goods. Both belts are roughly 1.25″ wide and are crafted from 10-12 ounce leather that has a nice, waxy luster from a well-chosen hide. While the Tanner Goods belt has nicer finishing with a smoother burnished edge, it costs more than twice as much as this essentials model. Ouch!
The L.L. Bean Essentials belt is dyed in a cool brown tone that is reminiscent of cognac, cordovan, or Horween’s color #8 where it has reddish purple undertones to it. This shade is very versatile and will look great with all sorts of casual to semi-casual or “smart” casual outfits featuring chino shorts, medium to dark denim, and of course, khaki chinos.
Side by side with Adam’s well loved Tanner Goods belt which has nicer finishing,
but it also costs $75 more.
The Essentials belt has a silver toned heel bar buckle that’s unobtrusive and looks great with other silver toned watches and jewelry. The buckle and the leather keeper loop are stitched in place. Some higher quality belts use metal rivets or “Chicago” screws that allow you to swap out the buckle for something different. For this belt, I don’t think either of those things matter much. Note that this is a simple, plain belt that’s best worn in casual environments. Should you need a dress belt to match your brogued Oxfords or maybe an ornamental belt to pair with your snakeskin cowboy boots for a weekend trip to Nashville, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
Overall, this belt is a stunner for something that costs roughly $50 delivered to your door.
Score: 5/5 Stars – Solid chunk of leather, buckle is simple and versatile. Nice!
In terms of fit and sizing, I recommend trying your usual belt size. If you’re not sure where to start, choose a belt that’s two whole sizes up from your best fitting pants. IE: If you wear a size 32 in pants, try a size 34 belt as that should give you a bit of room on either side of the size range to dial in the fit. I tried this belt in my usual size of 36 (for size 34 pants) and it’s perfect. The buckle prong neatly fits into the middle of the five punched holes and the belt feels tight enough without being constricting. They’ve nailed the sizing here.
Stitched in buckle. No surprises (or rivets) there.
For size reference, I typically wear a size 36 in fitted belts and a size large in elastic/stretch belts. For dress occasions, I typically wear an Allen Edmonds Manistee dress belt. For everyday casual wear, my go-to belt is The Standard Belt from Tanner Goods. The woven elastic belts from J.Crew are my favorites for shorts weather. Have a size question? Email us!
Score: 5/5 Stars – Size is spot on, fits great and feels comfortable right off the bat.
This is simply a great belt. It’s cut from a solid chunk of full-grain leather, the silver metal buckle is simple and versatile, and it’s all assembled in the US from global materials. Not to mention, L.L.Bean is a great company to deal with and their one year return policy is tough to beat. While I won’t be trading in my Tanner Goods belts anytime soon, I can say with confidence that this belt is a fantastic piece of kit and an unbeatable value. Highly recommended. Get one!
Avg. Score: 5/5 – HIGHLY recommended. If you need a basic belt, get this one.