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What are the Different Types of Belt Buckles?

By Nychole Price
Updated May 21, 2024
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A belt buckle is used to fasten two ends of a belt together, typically to hold up a pair of pants. Belt buckles are also worn for other reasons as well, including self-expression and the display of memorabilia. These reasons determine the material the buckle is composed of, as well as the design. Belt buckle designs include Western, cowboy, collectors and custom styles.

Western style belt buckles are worn for self expression, as well as preventing the wearer's pants from falling down. The traditional version of this style buckle usually displays very complex designs that are engraved into metal and decorated with silver or turquoise stones. The modern version of this belt buckle is composed of silver or brass and is often decorated with guns, animals, state emblems or Wild West images. The average size of the Western style belt buckle is 2.5 inches (6.35 cm) tall by 3.25 inches (8.26 cm) wide.

Cowboy style belt buckles differ from Western style, in that they display rodeo emblems, or images of bull riders. This style of belt buckle is often large and plated in gold or silver. A person with extra funds may want to buy a cowboy belt buckle in solid gold. When a person purchases a belt buckle from a rodeo vendor, it will often be inscribed with the event name, location and year. The average size of a cowboy belt buckle is 4 inches (10.16 cm) tall by 5.5 inches (13.97 cm) wide.

Collectors' belt buckles are worn to display a person's interest. There are hundreds of styles of collector buckles available, which include hunting, fishing, sports teams, beers, cartoon characters or favorite bands. These types of buckles are usually composed of pewter and brass, with colored enamel for highlighting purposes. The average size of this belt buckle is 2 inches (5.08 cm) tall by 2.38 inches (6.05 cm) wide. Collectors' buckles can be purchased at retail stores, concerts, sporting events or online.

A custom belt buckle is often worn to represent being a member of a group such as a motorcycle club. The buckle may also represent a person's occupation such as a firefighter, police officer or a member of the armed forces. This style buckle is customized with the person's unit number, chapter or years of membership. Custom belt buckles come in a wide variety of sizes and are made of pewter or brass. Custom belt buckles are purchased through the member's organization or online.

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Discussion Comments
By galen84basc — On Aug 20, 2010

One thing I've never understood is the obsession that some people seem to have with wearing name belt buckles.

I mean, it's not like you want people staring at your waistline to figure out your name, right?

Or is that the point? Frankly, it confuses me.

By CopperPipe — On Aug 20, 2010

I think those rodeo belt buckles are pretty cool. I used to date a guy who had one of those trophy belt buckles from bull riding, and I thought it was just the coolest thing.

Of course, he wore it around all the time, so it kind of lost the allure after a while, but it was still cool to look at.

By Planch — On Aug 20, 2010

Another popular kind of leather belt buckles are engraved silver belt buckles.

My husband used to wear one as part of his motorcycle club, and although they're not my style, some of those belts actually do take a lot of craftsmanship to make.

Especially those personalized custom made belt buckles, those things are so detailed! They can be, and often are, collector's items.

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