Two characteristics to look for in an alligator belt are small, consistent pillow size and a minimum of piecing. Unfortunately, the two tend to counter one another. The ideal belt would be made of a single piece of skin. The next best would be two pieces joined at the wearer's back. Most alligator belts are made of many artfully composed pieces of skin glued to a stout strap. In addition, many are edge-stitched. The drawback of the one-piece construction is that the pattern on the skin usually varies over the length of the belt. Also, they are usually much more expensive than a comparable pieced belt. The advantage of a pieced belt is that piecing allows for a more regular (though artificial) pattern. You can spot a poor quality pieced belt right away by the clumsily arranged mosaic on its face. A subtler job of piecing can sometimes be detected by examining the belt's edge. Clever makers (Trafalgar and Dingman are two) cover their tracks by applying a thick dressing to the edge. In that case, hold the belt at arm's length and scan the pattern for straight line breaks across the pillow pattern. If you still can't find the piecing, you've found a well-made belt. Makers never neglect to mark one-piece belts as such. The standard width for an alligator belt, particularly one designed to accept a slide buckle, is 1 inch. You sometimes see them wider, an inch and a quarter or even three-eighths. (The current Ben Silver catalogue features some wider models.) The places you are most likely to see both wide and one-piece alligator belts is in a western shop, but the lack of subtlety in execution usually makes them appropriate only on jeans.