Marlow White's goal is to educate and inform Soldiers regarding uniform purchase decisions, hence we provide detailed specifications and large photos across our web site. Occasionally, we feature uniform-item comparisons that show our products contrasted with other manufacturers' products.
We make such comparisons guardedly; we always want to be fair and honest when making such comparisons. Generally, we are careful to point out that we do not retouch any of the photos to keep the comparison above-board. For this ceremonial belt comparison, however, we wanted to show how the belts kept their shape through use. Accordingly, we must point out that one of the belts we are using is a "worn" or “used” (not new) belt. We have retouched the images of this used belt so that it has a "new" appearance, removing all of the blemishes that occur through use.
We can truly say that we offer the best quality Enlisted and Officer Ceremonial sword belt for the lowest price. And we don't just 'say' we offer the best quality, we show it.
Ceremonial Belts: From the Front
The biggest visible difference among the manufacturers is the variation in braid color. Each belt was photographed in the exact same lighting. Click the image for a larger view.
"Other Belt 1" uses an incorrect yellow braid, containing more orange than the specified color. This incorrect color is difficult to detect when shopping online due to computer screen variances; however, when compared under the same lighting conditions, one can easily see the color variation.
"Other Belt 2" uses the correct color.
Enlisted Soldiers wear the belt matching the Dress Blue trouser material with yellow trim. Officer belts are made of the branch-specific officer cap braid. Our comparison here shows the Enlisted Belt; however, similar color variation can occur with officer cap braid (see braid comparison).
Attachment of the US Coat of Arms Emblem
Both Marlow White and "Other Belt 1" use two small nuts to secure the US Coat of Arms emblem on the front. We have found that the pressed method of attaching the emblem used on "Other Belt 2" can very often cause an annoying rattle in the emblem that is impossible to tighten.
The Hidden Bracket - Critically Important Insurance
We took a lesson from The Old Guard (3rd Infantry Regiment): you do not want your belt to break or slip loose while you are in a ceremony or lifting a casket at a funeral.
Most other belt manufacturers insert a thin rectangular metal plate in between the folded-over belt and slotted into the D-ring bracket on the back of the belt buckle. Though the "Other Belts" image depicts a brand new belt, you will notice that the metal plate has already bent. As the belt is tightened securely when worn, the plate can "pop" out of its slot. The belt falls off the wearer.
Accordingly, The Old Guard removes the plate and replaces it with a bent piece of wire coat hanger. The "Other Belt 1" image above shows the coat hanger retrofit.
Marlow White's belt uses non-tarnish plated brackets on its belts. Click the photo for a higher-resolution view.
The photo depicts the back of the belt, near the buckle, showing the belt (which is usually looped over) undone, as if you are resizing the belt.
We custom-designed our ceremonial belt after seeing what The Old Guard does to retrofit the belts. While the sturdiness of our bracket does make it a little harder to resize the belt, the embarrassment of having your belt fall off during a ceremony or under the weight of a saber or sword far outweighs the relatively brief time it takes to adjust the belt length.
Shrinkage (Over Time)
Shrinkage occurs over time if the belt is made of low quality materials.
The belts were set on a flat surface and photographed from the side.
Marlow White and "Other Belt 2" both use a stable, leatherette material as the base for the belt.
"Other Belt 1" uses a vinyl material, that shrinks over time, causing transverse warping and ripples in the fabric. Low-grade vinyl results in a visibly defective belt within a very brief time.
Each ceremonial belt includes belt keepers, typically made of braid, to hold the excess, folded-over, back part of the belt in place.
Each belt was photographed at the same size and under the same lighting.
Color: Note that the braid of "Other Belt 1" is significantly off-shade and contains too much orange. Click for more information about Dress Blue Uniform Color Mismatches. Marlow White's Belt and "Other Belt 2" both use braid of the proper color.
Size and Design: The braid should be the same 1/4" braid used on the belt and on the female-size Dress Blue service stripes. "Other Belt 2" uses the correct 1/4" braid, but provides no backing to the braid to give a sharp vertical appearance over time (we have seen units use duct tape on the back to keep this loop looking sharp). While mounting the braid on a rigid backing, "Other Belt 1" uses a 3/8" braid. Marlow White mounts the Dress Blue fabric onto a wider, sturdy backing, then sews the 1/4" braid onto the backing for a uniform and sturdy appearance.