Leather is the de-facto material of choice for both men's and women's belts. Of course, there's a good reason for this: it's stylish, comfortable, durable, and has a distinct texture that's not found in other fabrics or materials. However, it's not uncommon for leather belts to become hard, making them difficult to wear. Before you tossing your stiff leather belt in the trash, though, you should first attempt to soften it.
Why Leather Becomes Stiff
Stiffness typically occurs in leather belts for one of two different reasons, the first of which is the belt being new. If you just purchased the belt, it may feel stiff simply because it hasn't been "worn in" yet. After wearing it for a few days, it should become soften and more comfortable.
Dryness is another reason why leather may become stiff. Leather is unique from other fabrics and materials in the sense that it constantly expands and shrinks according to fluctuations in the surrounding humidity levels. Technical jargon aside, when a leather belt is exposed to a humid environment, it expands. But when it's exposed to a dry environment, it may shrink and become stiff.
To soften a leather belt, you should first try wearing it for a week or two. If it's a new belt, this should help to break it in, making it softer and more comfortable. Even if it's an old belt, however, wearing it will bend the leather so it's able to contour around your waistline with greater ease.
Moisturize Your Leather
The most effective way to soften a leather belt is to moisturize it. There are dozens of products on the market designed specifically for moisturizing and conditioning leather, such as Saddle Soap for instance. These products contain water, along with other ingredients, that seep down inside the leather's pores to protect it from dehydration and the problems it causes. Applying a high-quality leather shampoo/conditioner to your belt at least once every few months will go a long ways in keeping it soft.
If all else fails, you may be forced to buy a new belt. Leather is an undeniably stylish and versatile material, but in extreme cases of dehydration, neither conditioning nor any other technique will restore it back to its original state.
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