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A Brief Introduction To The History Of Belt Buckles

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In the Beginning

The humble belt buckle is a ubiquitous accessory that is a part of most wardrobes. Although it is often considered to be a utilitarian item to keep pants in place, a buckle has a more prominent role as a fashion accessory for both men and women. Available in an assortment of styles, sizes, and materials, it is a great way to jazz up even the most simple and basic outfits. But the buckles we know and love today have evolved over hundreds of years. Even though most of us associate their classic style with the old, iconic Western movies and cowboys, it was actually the Roman soldiers and Chinese nomads who embraced this accessory in the Middle Ages. Back then, it served more of a functional purpose and was used to keep a soldier’s sword or to fasten a loose tunic. However, there were also noblemen who used ornate and bejeweled buckles to display their wealth and financial prowess.

The first buckles that were used by the Romans were made of iron and were either square or in the shape of a D, but with time, they started to feature more intricate designs and made use of various other types of materials, including bones.

Buckles in the United States

During the early 1800s, most cowboys wore suspenders, and even though belt buckles had arrived in the US by then, they steered clear of the accessory because of the fear that it would injure them while riding. With the beginning of the Civil War, friction buckles, which were mostly made of brass, were introduced for the military. These buckles were used in belts that didn’t have holes and had to be pulled right to keep them in place. As the war proceeded, the local blacksmiths started mass producing the buckles and selling them at much cheaper prices, and eventually, the cowboys started wearing them too.

By the start of the 20th century, there were hundreds of manufacturers creating high-quality belt buckles, including sterling silver buckles. It was also during this time that Hollywood began the trend of romanticizing rodeos and cowboys and sought to enhance the distinctive elements in the cowboy attire, and that included the buckles as well. In the early 1900s, cowboys mostly wore regular belts and buckles, but by the 1950s, that changed because costume designers created flashier and much more ornate designs in a bid to make the quintessential cowboy outfit shown on the silver screen more memorable. These films and their fashion were so influential that people in rural America and even real cowboys got hooked to them. Even though the shiny, big buckles were not practical for working, their sartorial appeal trumped it all.

At Max Lang, we create handcrafted silver buckles that are influenced by some of the older, iconic styles. For more than five decades, we have been producing sterling silver buckles of the finest quality, which offer the perfect blend of the classic aesthetic and more contemporary design. Choose from our wide selection of silver buckles that include animal buckles, dress buckles, custom belt buckles, and more.