Custom Belt Buckles: Western Designs from Cowboys to Motorcycles
Although people have been using belt buckles since ancient times, they only became a major fashion accessory in the early 20th century. The main reason for their popularity was cowboys — but not actual cowboys: the ones on the big screen. Westerns were becoming the biggest genre in Hollywood and fans wanted to emulate the look.
The Appeal of Western Belt Buckles
Part of the reason belt buckles gained such traction in the fashion world was that cowboys were a symbol of American culture. Spaghetti Westerns, in particular, showed cowboys wearing large buckles with intricate designs. It was this item of clothing that stood out and that the general public could easily incorporate into everyday wear. It didn’t matter that real-life cowboys at the time still preferred suspenders!
In fact, although suspenders were more convenient for work, cowboys felt that they had to keep up the image. Most started to switch to buckles around the 1950s. It was about this time that cowboys’ entire wardrobes started shifting away from practical and more toward fashionable.
What Is a Cowboy Belt Buckle?
What, in particular, makes a custom buckle a cowboy belt buckle? A few things. They are large and shiny and made from a metal like silver, gold, or brass or are plated with one of these metals. They feature Western emblems — some have an image of a horse, longhorn bull, or another animal; others have an ornate pattern.
A specific type of cowboy belt buckle is a trophy belt. Originating in the 1920s, these actually predate the cowboy belts in Westerns. Rather than being a belt to wear, these trophies were awards for competitions at rodeo events like bull riding, team roping, saddle bronc riding, and steer wrestling. On the back, they tend to have an inscription with the name of the event, location, and date.
The Evolution to Motorcycle Belt Buckles
One group that has adapted Western belt buckles for itself is the biker subculture. In fact, a biker outfit missing a custom belt buckle looks incomplete.
It’s easy to see how traditional Western buckles evolved into motorcycle belt buckles. Bikers are practically the cowboys of the road — they substitute a horse for a motorcycle and swede for leather. Custom motorcycle belt buckles tend to feature imagery of a motorcycle, the brand of the bike, or symbols like stars and skulls.
Western Belt Buckles Today
Nowadays, custom belt buckles in Western-style remain some of the most popular available. They are a way of expressing your identity, affiliation, or subculture. Many public figures (from musicians to politicians) use a custom belt buckle to create a signature look.
There’s a good reason why people are embracing Western belt buckles: they allow you to create a number of distinct looks without the need for multiple outfits. Custom belts, in particular, allow you to stand out. They enable you to express much more than you ever could with any other item of clothing.
For your own custom Western belt buckle, choose a design that expresses who you are. On the back, you may like to have your initials, name, or an achievement inscribed. This will make the buckle truly belong to you alone.
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