See Ya Later Alligator: The $1,000 Brooks Brothers Belt

I think I’m going to get an engine-turned belt buckle. I’ll have it engraved with just two initials — CC — a little in-joke reference to my abbreviated bylines here.

For now, however, I’ll have to settle for a leather strap to go with it. Brooks Brothers offers a buckle for $250 — the going rate — but their alligator strap is $800.

I think I’d feel a bit self-conscious wearing a belt that costs more than everything else I’m wearing combined. — [= CC =]

42 Comments on "See Ya Later Alligator: The $1,000 Brooks Brothers Belt"

  1. An alligator strap is certainly on my get list…maybe it’s a bucket list item…?

  2. RL has got a buckle for $100 cheaper and a belt strap about half of BB. $250 may be the going rate for some other similar buckles (Tiffany, etc) but still feels like too much to me.

  3. Last year, after a few months of lurking, I got a used genuine silver buckle on ebay for less than $10. The only drawback is that someone else’s initials are engraved on it, something I got used to right away and now I just see as part of the article’s charm. I got a leather strap for it from Brooks Brothers, but was sorely disappointed in the quality and ended up returning it. I found a much nicer one online, made by Trafalgar.

  4. AEV, where in the world did that come from? You might as well have said “I’d steer clear of pink leather.”

  5. He thinks the alligator strap’s finish is too high-gloss. But probably most people who spend $800 on a little strap of leather want to make sure that it catches someone’s eye every once-in-a-while.

  6. I don’t think that’s what he means at all, as he and I occasionally correspond and we were discussing this very item. He seems to be suggesting that since I said I’d go with a calf version rather than gator (and not to suggest that Brooks’ $800 version is the only one available), that all of a sudden it would be shiny, which feels kind of randomly out of left field. What in the world would make him think he should admonish me not to buy a patent leather belt?

    Anyway, I’m sure the chap will chime in here any minute now.

  7. Tiffany’s engine-turned belt buckle retails for $225. RL is definitely a better deal.

    But I like the $10 eBay find second best. Best of all would be inheriting Dear Old Dad’s (or Grandfather’s, or Uncle’s).

    Oh, woops! Did I just inadvertently express a PITA thought? 😉

  8. Jim Kelleth | October 3, 2011 at 4:34 pm |

    I have three alligator belts from Brooks that are at least 25 years old….and none of them fit anymore.

  9. Props to the Bengal Stripe for this source of affordable belt buckles/straps:

  10. Gentleman Mac | October 3, 2011 at 5:11 pm |

    I love my alligator and crocodile belts I received from my father who had hardly worn them when he bought them 40 years ago and can no longer fit them now. They are one of those things that elevates the sartorial spirit because it is a luxury item, but one that few will see in the course of a wearing.

  11. Tad Allagash | October 3, 2011 at 5:28 pm |

    Great looking belt, but $800 is absurd. Not hard to find one made in the US from American alligator for $300-400. I also think the glazed finish is the way to go here. Matte alligator leather just doesn’t look right, in my opinion it looks like cheap or imitation leather. A gator belt is one of the flashier items in the prep wardrobe – might as well embrace that aspect of it.

  12. @Henry – Yes, the mysterious monogram allows me the pleasurable conceit of pretending it’s my (maternal) grandfather’s buckle. I had decided to buy one new from Tiffany’s if I couldn’t score one used during the next six months from ebay. I ended up getting lucky. At that price, even Joe at AAW would be impressed with my find?

    @Tad – You should link a good source of more reasonably-priced alligator straps. And, yes, the high-gloss finish on alligator looks fantastic. If you are going to opt for such an exotic material, you must show it off!

  13. Jim, any chance they’re in the 32-34 range?

  14. The Ebay route is smart as a lot of the buckles can be had for under $50.00. As long as the buckle is sterling, a good jeweler can polish out the previous owner’s intials. The question then is leaving the space blank or engraving your intials as long as the metals thickness allows. Trafalgar produces some nice straps at a reasonable charge.

  15. Excellent post.

  16. Tad Allagash | October 3, 2011 at 7:26 pm |

    @Gabe – you mentioned one of them, Trafalgar. Another place where I’ve had good experiences is Maida’s of Houston. Their forté is custom boots, in all manner of leathers and designs, but they also do good business in belts, wallets, etc. It’s an old family owned place. Also maybe check out a Florida tannery that has belts for $230, can’t vouch for their quality though, never seen them.

  17. Ben Silver has alligator straps for $390. Outstanding quality.

  18. Paul Stuart cashmere cable knit sweater ($1797) trumps this belt any day of the week. Tread lightly guys, they don’t screw around.

  19. Best strap I have found is from Maus and Hoffman. Got it for $350 with a buckle. Perfectly wide and the great quality (Maus and Hoffman is known for).

  20. High gloss is the way to go, because it develops gorgeous patina as the gloss wears away unevenly.

  21. It is a very handsome belt, but I wonder about the value – i fell like I would need to wear it every day for the rest of my life for the juice to be worth the squeeze…

  22. Buy a nice, utilitarian belt at Macy’s for under $ 50, bank $ 475 for a rainy day, and give $ 475 to some worthy charity or food bank. You’ll feel better about yourself. Or find one on Ebay or a thrift shop for less than $ 10. Take the wife or GF to a nice romantic dinner for the extra $ 40. Cheers!

  23. If you are going to invest in a buckle and strap you need to come to terms with paying $200+ for Sterling. It is worth the money and will last forever. I have the BB strap (brown) and a buckle from Paul Stewart and they are fantastic!

  24. CC-

    The classic engine turned will always be made by Tiffany’s.

    Get yours there, but buy your belts from Brooks, as they fit perfectly — and are recommended by Tifs.

  25. Or by a pair of suspenders and spend the rest on the suit

  26. Bought a Lanvin belt in Singapore in 1984 for a late notice conference and discovered I hadn’t brought a suit with me. It cost me $60 partly because I wanted a trad (if such a term was used back then) belt buckle. Even though the belt is gone the classic gold plated (?)/brass and silver buckle is still with me. A new belt is attached to it. Buy quality you cry once. By crap you cry four times.

  27. $350 is about as low as you’ll find for decent gator…average I’ve seen starts at $425 for non-branded and quickly goes above $1,000 for top brands. Ivy start-up out of HBS coming soon to change that…shaking up the leather goods market, stay tuned for november launch @sterlingkane

  28. Paul Stuart sells the gator strap for around $400. $800 is just stupid when you can walk next door and save half.

  29. Not even remotely interested in this, honestly. I have a significant list of staples that $1000 could put a dent into…

  30. I have the buckle from Tiffany’s that was given to me about 24 years ago. The calf strap lasted for about 15 years. I bought a new lizard on calf last year for about $100 and I have already thrown it out; you get what you pay for! While I have never purchased Brooks Brothers Alligator belts, I have purchased two pairs of their Alligator penny loafers and it was money well spent. As with any garment, you need to ask yourself “Does it matter if I left it behind at a hotel or your club? While a brief inconvenience, it shouldn’t be a life changing event. In which case, you can’t afford it.

  31. Mitch McDonald | July 2, 2012 at 9:00 pm |

    In my opinion, there is nothing nicer than to have an alligator strap belt. The only thing to top it would be an engine turned buckle. Good choice.

  32. Groton '74, Harvard '76 | August 22, 2013 at 1:27 am |

    Buying something this expensive is quite unprep.

  33. I want this. I have both the gold-plated and silver versions of the buckle which I had monogrammed, and I also own all three of the colors they are currently offering in the store. I love the narrowness of the belts as opposed to the standard 1.5″ that you see in stores today.

  34. A few makers now offer these, we do as well. Our most requested in black and brown, but other colors available as custom orders (blue, red, green, gray, burgundy, orange, etc). Cheers,

  35. Evan Everhart | February 1, 2019 at 5:33 pm |

    I acquired a gold buckle some time ago; I found it in a pawn shop while on one of my wandering trips. The buckle had not engraving on it, thankfully. It was not cheap, but it was not excessively expensive either. It cost me about as much as a decent pair of vintage shoes on Ebay.

    As for the silver buckle, well, I’ve got it, I wear it, I love it! I wear the gold more than the silver, but no one sees either, mostly, at least not to comment upon them, though my ties are short enough for them to be on obvious display when I’m not wearing a vest.

    Alligator is the way to go! I’ve got 6 alligator straps. I love them, and the patina of the rubbed off finish is really quite attractive. My favorite one’s are the cigar brown, and the cognac tan ones. I also love teju lizard straps! I’ve got two lizard strap belts, one with an attached gold buckle (Coach), and one with a self-finished belt (the buckle is also covered in lizard skin! – PRL!). Exotic leathers are great, in small measure, though my favorite wallet is a teju lizard breast pocket wallet in deep mahogany russet, and it matches the strap on my silver wrist watch.

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