The Bellroy Slim Sleeve was the best value winner in my tested review best slim wallets for men. Below, you can find out more about this everyday carry, which can hold everything you need – at just the right price.
“Fast fashion” means that something is cheap and disposable – two words I’d like to avoid when choosing a wallet. But why is it so hard to find a wallet that looks good and is well built, but doesn’t break the bank? Is it too much to ask that this wallet is also made from responsibly sourced leather? But seriously, back to the price: could it be under $100 but not feel like I bought it off the street?
According to Michael Williams (who writes the influential men’s fashion newsletter Continuous lean), researching the category is worth the effort: “I’d rather buy something that’s good once.” That’s what drove me towards the Bellroy Slim Sleeve. It’s a $79 wallet from a certified B Corp, but what pushed this one over the edge (besides the price) was its size. It was light and thin, but bigger than a card case. And when there was room for a valet ticket and cash, I found myself reaching for it again and again.
More for your money
The Bellroy Slim Sleeve retails for $65, although I’ve seen it on sale for less. Still, it’s a steal at that price. In short, this is a well-made wallet that performs well; I was able to get my credit card in less than 3 seconds, even with the Bellroy folded model. At that price, you might expect the wallet to be glued together in sections (leather expert Nick Horween says that’s a problem, as your body heat and moisture can cause the wallet to fail). But this is nicely stitched together. The industry looks at stitches per inch when evaluating quality. This rated at eight stitches per inch, which was comparable to more expensive wallets I tested. But most importantly, it passed the sniff test. This is a man’s wallet, not a toy, and it felt that way.
Wallets are a bit like cellars. The more space you have, the more likely you are to fill it with junk. I recently found a business card in my old wallet. I couldn’t remember if I had been drinking with this person or refinanced my mortgage with him. Why did I hold on to this card? Like Jim Moore, Creative Director GQ, reminded me: It’s time to lose weight. “You need a medical card, a driver’s license, a couple of cards.” And the Bellroy is (as its name suggests) thin. With four credit cards and $100 in cash inside, it was only 0.8 inches thick. Of course, there are times when you want to announce yourself with an oversized luxury wallet on display. But in your everyday life? In your actual get-out-of-the-house life? No thanks. You want a slim, carry-on wallet that’s compact and stylish and only holds what you need. It’s the Bellroy Slim Sleeve.
The leather is made by people who care about the planet
Leather is a “recycling industry,” says Horween, meaning leather is a byproduct of food production. As long as people eat meat, he says, you’ll find leather. Still, I like that Bellroy has been a certified B Corp since 2015, which means it has met certain requirements for social and environmental impact. This is not a one-time thing either; Companies must be re-rated regularly, and Bellroy has continued to make the grade. Bellroy only buys leather from tanneries that are gold certified by the industry’s Leather Working Group. In addition, the Australian company has committed a portion of its sales revenue to improving animal welfare. Slim, well made and responsibly sourced – and all at the right price? That makes this a winner.
I’m a wallet obsessive who has lost nights in the rabbit warren buying vintage Louis Vuitton wallets online and searching for the perfect second-hand heirloom (from someone else’s family history). I’m also obsessed with quality. For more than 20 years as a journalist, I have toured factories and interviewed leather manufacturers on several continents. The great gift of this job is the opportunity to get real experts on the horn. This assignment was no exception. To measure the best wallets for men, I interviewed a panel of experts, starting with Jim Moore, the legendary creative director. GQ magazine. I also interviewed Michael Williams (who writes a men’s fashion newsletter Continuous lean) and Nick Horween, vice president and director of quality at Horween Leather Company, a fifth-generation family business in Chicago.
How does it compare?
Both the Bellroy Slim Sleeve and my pick for best wallet, the Smythson Mara Flat Card Holder, are slim and hold just what you need: a few cards, some cash, maybe an AirTag. But at $79, Bellroy is less than half the price of Smythson. That may be reason enough to sway you. But really, these are two great wallets designed for two different occasions. Smythson is stylish and sophisticated. The Bellroy is a useful instrument – an everyday carry that you can slip into your pocket. It’s handsome and doesn’t require you to sacrifice quality for price – the definition of best value for money.
How I Tested the Best Value Wallet
Bellroy is my pick for best value – the price was right, and the 3 year warranty was a nice bonus. But at this price, I wanted to make sure it stood up to scrutiny. So I put Bellroy through the laundry. (The stitching remained intact; although the leather stiffened, within a few days of using the wallet it was soft to the touch.) I also drove over it in my car a dozen times in the driveway, worried that at this price. – the sewing may break. But it remained intact. And even though I left it on the counter at bars and coffee shops fishing for compliments, they never came. Maybe it’s because we’ve lost our civility since the pandemic. But we often take our most valuable players for granted. I found myself reaching for this wallet again and again, which is perhaps the most important test.
Is there a lot of cash in this wallet?
I’d say cash is enough. But may I suggest a money clip? Williams says, “I don’t like the awkward feeling of not being able to tip. And since I only get a little cash in my card case, I often have a money clip in a separate front pocket. He uses a super light money clip from a brand called Superior Titanium (I like this one), but you can buy a money clip anywhere.
Does it matter that this wallet is not waterproof?
It depends. Is your name Bear Grylls? (If so, hey dude, you’re great.) But I put this wallet through the laundry and was surprised at how well it held up. I then let it air dry on the table. And although the wallet was stiff at first, after a few days of use the leather was soft again.
Speaking of which: Do I need to oil this wallet?
No, you don’t need to treat or polish your new wallet, according to Horween, whose family has been crafting leather for five generations. “Hand oils should be enough to keep your wallet smooth and shiny,” she says. “The answer is to use it.”