Suspending the Suspenders: Wearing Them Right

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Suspenders, also known as braces in the United Kingdom, are long straps of cloth that go over a man’s shoulder and down to the waistband of his trousers, front and back. They’re attached to the pants with either a clip or a button, and their primary use involves holding the trousers up.

Most men today would say that the leather belt is a more modern and practical option. However, before World War I, belts were considered mostly an ornamental accessory rather than a practical invention. A pair of suspenders was the traditional tool for holding up a man’s trousers. In fact, several fashionable and sophisticated men still consider suspenders indispensable.

Few would disagree if I said that suspenders are no longer a necessity, but a style accessory. It’s not like you’ll be unable to keep your trousers in place in the absence of suspenders, and so you need to rush out right now and buy them. But one thing is for sure, they’re an interesting way to accessorize and achieve a very distinctive look.

Here’s what you need to know before you buy yourself a pair of those cool suspenders you’ve been considering.

Typically, suspenders connect at the back in either an X or a Y shape. Sometimes, the straps are joined which makes it easy to keep the pairs together, but suspenders with two separate straps are available as well. The make depends on the brand, but most are manufactured in materials such as pure silk and synthetic rayon. Conventionally, the woolen boxcloth is considered long-lasting and a must-have.

Most suspenders are elasticized at either just the end or throughout, which means they can expand to give you a snug and a comfortable fit. The ends are either leather flaps which attach to the buttons on the waistband, or clips which clutch the top of the trouser.

Origins and Comparisons

Suspenders were invented over 300 years ago as a device to help men hold their pants up from the front and the back. It was Albert Thurston who introduced the modern suspenders in 1822 (high-cut pants were huge back in the day, so wearing belts would be out of the question). However, despite being worn on the outside, suspenders continued to carry the reputation of being undergarments.

The convenience and style provided by suspenders and belts have been hotly debated. Belts became more popular in the 1930s as the waistcoats (under which the suspenders would be hidden) became less prominent. And even though waistcoats are no longer worn today, suspenders continue to find acceptance among stylish men.

While belts support your pants securely around your waist and keep them from sliding down or falling off, suspenders only hold them in place. This is important to consider when considering your silhouette and the construction of your pants. If the trousers’ waist is too wide, suspenders won’t help them look tighter, but only hold your pants up.

Suspender and Belts Together?

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Do you wear a belt with suspenders? The answer to this question should always be in the negative!

Avoid wearing a belt and suspenders together at all costs, unless you want to stand out for looking silly.

Suspenders are substitutes for belts, not something to be worn along with them. They were originally designed to serve the purpose of holding up trousers, and are more comfortable than belts because they do not cinch around the waist, or take away from the natural construction of your pants. Instead, they enable you to wear your pants at your waist or wherever you please, as the length is easily adjustable.

Wearing Suspenders

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If you’re wondering exactly how to wear suspenders, you’re not alone.

As already mentioned, suspenders were traditionally perceived as undergarments. But, high-quality silk suspenders are perfect for wearing with office wear. These are to be attached with the help of buttons placed on the inside of the waistband.

When wearing suspenders, it is important to remember one critical aspect. If you do use buttons to attach your suspenders to your trousers, make sure the leather flaps match your shoes.

Remember getting the right fit can depend from person to person. It depends on your comfort level and the desired waist height. Always make it a point to adjust the straps so that the buttons/clips on the front straps sit parallel to each other across your chest, and not on your abdomen.

Moreover, your suspenders should never hang loose. They should sit snugly over your shoulders, not too tight. They should attach in the front at your waist so they are perpendicular to the floor. So if you have a large frame, feel free to try on those big and tall suspenders you’ve been eyeing.

And if you thought suspenders can be worn only with formal wear, thing again!

As per Time.com, “In the 1960s, British skinheads adopted suspenders as part of their working-class look — often attaching them to tight blue jeans that didn’t really need help staying in place.”

Things to Consider

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-Do bear in mind that suspenders come in various styles, some of which have been adopted by punks and skinheads, which is why these styles may come with certain implications that you may want to avoid. The best way to do so would be to avoid experimenting too much and picking subtleness over brazenness.

-Wearing suspenders can take some practice and getting used to. They can snag easily, so do take your time to get comfortable with wearing them.

-Avoid wearing suspenders that are old and have lost their elasticity as they can make your pants look droopy and flattened.

-The quickest and the easiest way to include suspenders into your current wardrobe is by using clips.

Conclusion

There’s only one way to tell whether or not suspenders would look good on you, and that is by trying them on. Getting the look right depends on their material and their make. If yours are made of silk, you could wear them to cocktail or dinner parties. Focus on getting the look right, and once you master that, don’t hesitate in breaking the sartorial rules. Of course, not everyone is used to wearing suspenders or seeing others wear them, which is why you may stand out. But by following the above suggestions, rest assured you will get noticed for the right reasons.

 

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