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Question: Dear Mr. Smith: Does it matter which way a man threads his belt? In keeping with the left-over-right closures on men's pants, shirts and coats, clockwise seen from above seems to be implied. But most of us (right-handed) men seem to do the opposite.

Answer: It is always reassuring to find that there are even more obsessive geeks out there than me. I confess to never having thought about this issue. But the idea that there might be a wrong way to do up your belt makes me quite giddy. So I have been poring over fashion photographs and found that there does not seem to be a standard: As with many things, some guys go left, some guys go right. I myself thread counterclockwise (that is, the non-buckle end of the belt finishes by pointing left) and I am right-handed.

Then I did an exhaustive scientific survey of fashionable men and found that, indeed, counterclockwise is the most common direction among the right-handed. So yes, the left-over-right principle is violated. And interestingly, right-handed women seem to thread their belts in the same way, breaking the principle that women's and men's clothes should be directionally distinguished (as with buttons). The one left-handed man in my survey went clockwise.

But it is worth noting that all buckles, even the ones that have some non-standard form of closure, such as the simple stud-in-hole that backs the more ostentatious metal symbols, can be presented facing either way and even turned upside down and lose no function. So you should lose no sleep over this: Any way is fine. And your jacket is going to be closed most of the time anyway, right?

Perhaps a more pressing question among all these crucial issues is what to do when you lose some weight and your belt becomes too long. Do you just keep wrapping the loose end around, under further trouser loops, or do you fold it back on itself and hide it in the belt loop? Whatever you do, avoid the long flapping or curling belt end. The best solution is to get a new belt.

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