The belt. For such a small, seemingly obvious accessory, it can cause lots of confusion (much like the striped-ties-with-striped-shirts dilemma). Allow us to throw you a belt life preserver and let you know that getting your belt to match your outfit is really quite simple after all.

First of all, be comforted in the knowledge that even fashion gurus debate the belt. They disagree on whether a man should wear one every time his pants have loops for it, or if he should wear it only when the spirit moves him and he doesn't mind the visual line of his body being cut in have right at his (not-always-toned) gut.

Style masters do agree that a belt is strictly an accessory and should never be a necessity for keeping your pants up. If your pants won't stay up without a belt, they should be tailored or donated. They also agree that size matters and you should buy a belt one or two sizes higher than your pant size, or a belt that you can buckle at the middle hole with just a few inches of spare belt at the left.

Here are three simple rules for how to make your belt go:

Match Your Shoes

You've probably heard this before: your belt should match your shoes in both color and finish. This means that if you're wearing slick, black leather dress shoes, you should wear a black leather belt. If you're more casual and wearing canvas shoes, a cloth belt is the way to go. When you're casual, the color restriction is a bit looser.

Match Your Accessories

It's not just your shoes you need to think about. Your belt buckle should also match the finish of your other accessories, like your watch or jewelry. If you're wearing a gold watch, then you need to choose the belt with a gold buckle. It's as simple as that (we told you it was easy).

Match Your Outfit

The formality of your belt should match the formality and style of your outfit. So, you need to know what a dress belt looks like and what a casual belt looks like. A dress belt will be thinner, have a simple, square buckle and be made of plain, smooth leather. A casual belt is wider, will have a bigger, perhaps more complicated buckle, and can be cloth or a more showy print of leather. Some animal-skin and woven belts can be both casual and dressy -- the key is to make sure they aren't too flashy or shiny, and the buckle is simple if you want to wear them as dressy.

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