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Bellroy Slim Sleeve Wallet Review 2023

Apr 02, 2023

The Bellroy Slim Sleeve was the best value winner in my tested review of the best men's slim wallets. Below, learn more about this everyday carry that fits everything you need—at just the right price.

"Fast fashion" implies 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 constructed but won't break the bank? Is it too much to ask that this wallet also be made from responsibly sourced leather? But seriously, back to price: Could it cost less than $100 but not feel like I bought it from a street vendor?

The Bellroy Slim Sleeve is a small but mighty wallet at an affordable price.

According to Michael Williams (who writes the influential men's fashion newsletter A Continuous Lean), researching a category is worth the effort: "I’d rather buy something that's good once." That's what drove me toward 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 slim but more substantial than a card case. And with room for a valet ticket and some cash, I found myself reaching for it again and again.


Type: Slim wallet | Material: Leather | Holds: 11 cards (though I suggest 4 max) | Dimensions: 3.75" x 3.1" | Thickness (empty): .4" | Thickness (full): 0.8" | Warranty: 3 years | Price: $79

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The Bellroy Slim Sleeve retails for $65, though 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 functions swimmingly; I was able to retrieve my credit card in under 3 seconds, even with the Bellroy's folded design. At this price, you might expect the wallet to be glued together in parts (a problem, says leather expert Nick Horween, since heat and humidity from your body can cause the wallet to fail). But this one's stitched together nicely. The industry looks at stitches per inch when gauging quality. This one rated 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 like it.

Wallets are a bit like basements. The more space you have, the more likely you are to fill them up with crap. I recently found a business card in an old wallet of mine. I couldn't remember if I’d had drinks with this person or refinanced my mortgage with him. Why was I holding on to this card? As Jim Moore, the creative director at large for GQ, reminded me: It's time to slim down. "You need your medical card, driver's license, a couple of cards." And the Bellroy is (as its name promises) slim. With four credit cards and $100 in cash inside, it measured just 0.8 inch thick. Sure, there are times when you want to announce yourself with an oversized luxury wallet on display. But in your daily life? In your actual, get-out-of-the-house-quickly life? No thanks. What you want is a thin, on-the-go wallet that's compact and handsome and holds only what you need. That's the Bellroy Slim Sleeve.

Leather is an "industry of recyclers," says Horween, meaning leather is a byproduct of food production. As long as people are eating meat, he says, you’re gonna find leather. Still, I like that Bellroy has been a certified B Corp since 2015, meaning it has met certain qualifications for social and environmental impact. This isn't a one-time thing either; companies must be reevaluated regularly, and Bellroy has continued to make the grade. Bellroy buys leather only from tanneries that have been certified gold by the industry's Leather Working Group. Plus, the Australia-based company has committed a portion of sales revenue toward improving animal welfare. Slim, well made and responsibly sourced—and all at the right price? That makes this one a winner.

I am a wallet obsessive who has lost nights down a rabbit hole of shopping for vintage Louis Vuitton wallets online, searching for the perfect worn-in heirloom (from someone else's family history). I’m also obsessive about quality. In my 20-plus years as a journalist, I’ve toured factories and interviewed leather makers on multiple continents. The great gift of this job is being able to get real experts on the horn. This assignment was no exception. To gauge the best men's wallets, I interviewed a panel of experts beginning with Jim Moore, the legendary creative director at large for GQ magazine. I also interviewed Michael Williams (who writes the men's fashion newsletter A Continuous Lean) and Nick Horween, vice president and quality director at Horween Leather Company, a fifth-generation family business out of Chicago.

Both the Bellroy Slim Sleeve and my pick for the best wallet overall, the Smythson Mara Flat Card Holder, are slim and hold exactly what you need: a few cards, some cash, maybe an AirTag. But at $79, the Bellroy is less than half the price of the Smythson. That may be reason enough to sway you. But really, these are two great wallets designed for two different occasions. The Smythson is elegant and refined. The Bellroy is a utility player—an everyday carry you can slide in your pocket. It's handsome and doesn't ask you to sacrifice quality for price—which is the definition of a best value pick.

The Bellroy is my pick for best value wallet—the price was right, and the 3-year warranty was a nice bonus. But at this price, I wanted to make sure the thing stood up to scrutiny. So I put the Bellroy through the laundry. (The stitching survived unscathed; while the leather stiffened, within a few days of using the wallet, it was soft to the touch.) I also ran it over with my car a dozen times in the driveway, concerned that—at this price point—the stitching might come undone. But it remained intact. And while I left it out on the counter at a bar and at a coffee shop, fishing for compliments, they never came. Perhaps that's because we’ve lost some of our decorum coming out of 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.

After a cycle in the washing machine, the stitching survived unscathed and the leather stiffened, ... [+] but the wallet softened back up within a few days of use.

I’d say it holds enough cash. Though may I suggest a money clip? Says Williams: "I don't like the embarrassing feeling of not being able to tip. And because I can only get a little cash in a card case, a lot of the time I’ll 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.

That depends. Is your name Bear Grylls? (If it is, hey dude, you’re great.) But I put this wallet through the laundry, and I was surprised at how well it did. I then let it air-dry on the counter. And while the wallet was stiff at first, after a few days of use the leather was once again soft to the touch.

No, you don't need to condition or shine your new wallet, according to Horween, whose family has been making leather for five generations. "The oils from your hands should be enough to keep your wallet smooth and shiny," he says. "The answer is to use it."

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