How to Wear Suspenders?
Suspenders… They’re Making a Comeback!
If you haven’t noticed, suspenders are growing in popularity. Being someone who cares about how you look and want to be presentable & sophisticated, you probably already know that there’s nothing like a nice pair of braces to keep those trousers up. Yes…braces are another word for suspenders!
Suspenders have to be the classiest substitution for belts, not to mention how snazzy they can be when you dress them casually.
The thing is, just like any other garment, suspenders have their own rules. You can follow them or break them as you please, but it doesn’t mean you’ll be looking the best you can. In fact, many guys in suspenders are doing it wrong in one way or another. But when it all comes down to it, it really doesn’t matter.
Do what you please and rock what you want. This article is meant for men who want to wear suspenders the way they were meant to be worn.
You might be wondering, how do you even put suspenders on anyways? Don’t feel bad about it. In fact, be happy because you’ve come to the right place! We’ve created a full-on guide to suspenders that includes a historical run-down, a step-by-step on how to put on suspenders, as well as answers to many other questions you may have about how to properly wear suspenders.
What are Suspenders?
So what are suspenders anyways? They are long, fabric strips that help hold up your pants. They do this by attaching to the top front of your pants, going over the shoulders, and securing to the back of it. The rear will have a design that looks like the letter X or Y connecting the two fabric strips in order to keep them from slipping off the shoulders.
A Brief History on Suspenders
Suspenders are a traditional method of holding up a man’s trousers. In fact, before World War I, belts were mainly used as decorative pieces for military uniforms. The use of suspenders can be dated all the way back to the 1800s in France. The first pairs of suspenders were actually ribboned strips that were attached to a trouser’s buttonholes.
If you’re wondering why you don’t see men in suspenders in many pictures from back in the day, this is actually because they were initially meant to be used as an undergarment.
Albert Thurston, a British designer, started the creation of our modern-day suspenders in the 1820s. It was during this time that fashion called for men to wear their pants so high waisted that belts could not effectively hold them up. This is why suspenders became such a popular method for keeping pants up.
By the time the 20th century came around, lower-rise pants became the new norm and the popularity of suspenders went down. During the 1920s, suspenders actually became a prescribed medical device to support a better posture and help slim the gut. It wasn’t until the 1960s that men in suspenders started wearing them as outer garments; specifically by the British working-class. U.S. and English women started wearing suspenders as well when the 70s came around.
People magazine declared hanging suspenders to be “sensual” and trendy while at the same time Steve Urkel from Family Matters was rocking them traditionally. Fast forward to today and you’ll notice that 20th-century class has been making a huge comeback. Fedoras and suspenders are now considered necessities for any man that desires to be classy and stylish.
Tips on How to Properly Wear Suspenders
Sure, you can pick up any old pair of suspenders, put them on, and walk out the door with no problems. The thing is, there is such a thing as the “Right Way To Wear Suspenders”. There are several details to keep in mind, though once you get it down it’s really quite simple. We’ve compiled together a list of things you should take into consideration when putting on, choosing, wearing suspenders.
Putting on suspenders is easy when you get the hang of it. Here we’re going to break it down for you step-by-step.
Locate where you’ll be buttoning your suspenders if you’re not using clips. Depending on the trousers or pants you have, there may already be buttons on the inside to hook your suspenders on. You can sew on buttons yourself or have a tailor do it for you if you don’t have any.
Before putting on your trousers, secure the suspenders to the back. Make sure they are in the center when using Y-back suspenders & halfway between the center and side when using X-back suspenders. Do not clip onto belt loops.
Put on your trousers and pull them up as high as possible while still being comfortable. Since you’re not using a belt, you’ll probably bring them a little bit higher than usual. It’s usually best to go with high waisted pants when using suspenders.
Bring the suspender straps over your shoulders while making sure they stay flat and don’t twist. X-back suspenders will need to cross over each other before going over the shoulders while Y-back suspenders will split into two straps before leaving the back.
Guide the suspenders over your chest. The straps should form 2 vertical lines that go straight up and down. Most likely, the front secures will be spaced further than the back secures.
Secure the suspenders to the front of your trousers by either clipping or buttoning. They should be approximately in the same spot on either side to give off asymmetrical look.
The final touch is to adjust your suspenders so they fit you properly. Suspenders that are too loose will end up sliding off your shoulders, which is an absolute no-no. Buckles are usually placed either on the bottom front part of your straps or where the straps cross on your back. If your suspenders are handcrafted or custom made, then you might not need to adjust them.
While many vouches for both button and clip-on suspenders, many others suggest to shy away from clips. This is because they find clips to come off as cheesy and not sophisticated. In short, it’s best to opt for buttons over clips and especially to avoid clips for formal occasions. The only acceptable time to wear clip-on suspenders is casual. Not to mention, they can actually damage the fabric over time.
Generally speaking, X-back suspenders are suited for casual settings and Y-back suspenders are better for formal events. There are a few differences to these suspenders aside from their style:
The X provides more support making them better suited for doing physical work and casual outings. You’ll need a total of 8 buttons, 4 in the front and 4 in the back, in order to button these suspenders in properly.
Y-back suspender straps meet on your back, forming a Y with one strap running down your back. That means you’ll need only 2 buttons on the back of your trousers for these types of suspenders.
It’s very important to make sure you get the color right. If the color of your suspenders is wrong, then your attire will be ruined. If you don’t like to take risks, then stick with solid, neutral, versatile colors such as navy blue, beige, black, or brown. It’s also mentionable that darker colors are suitable for more formal occasions.
You can have a look at our article about mens formal wear color combinations for more info.
If you’re someone who likes to take risks or have a bit more fun with style, then go for either a complementary or secondary color. For example, if you have some gold details on your watch or tie, then consider suspenders with some gold hardware.
Patterns can be great and add a lot of styles if you do it right. Try not to have too many patterns going on since it can easily make your outfit look tacky. Since suspenders are at the same visual height as your tie (if you’ll be wearing a tie), it’s absolutely essential that they coordinate well together as well. If your tie is patterned, then avoid choosing a pattern for your suspenders.
When it comes to the part of your suspenders that button to your trouser, it should be leather that matches your shoes. Of course, it’s not the end of the world if they don’t. It especially doesn’t matter if you’re not going to be taking off your suit jacket. Heck, all of the color and pattern rules we mentioned don’t matter if the jacket stays on because nobody will be seeing your suspenders!
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Make sure to get suspenders that are sized correctly for your height. If your suspenders are too long, then they won’t properly support your pants. On the other hand, if you’re very tall and your suspenders are too short, then you might end up accidentally giving yourself a wedgie (which we seriously don’t want).
No, just no. You should NEVER ever wear a belt and suspenders at the same time. It’s redundant, doesn’t look right, and completely unnecessary. They’re different ways to help keep your pants up and should be worn only one at a time.
Suspenders look great on a lot of different pants. The absolute best trouser is one that is a little bit lose at the waist and has room for the upper legs and thighs. While you can wear suspenders with trousers that have a slim, snug fit, they will ultimately look unnecessary since they are actually non-functional in reality.
Ideally, your trousers shouldn’t have belt loops. Wearing suspenders with belt loops is acceptable as long as you’re styling correctly.
Especially if you’re not 100% committed to suspenders, you’ll need belt loops on your favorite pair of trousers in order to wear a belt from time to time. For the most part, it’s not a big deal, though no belt loops give you a more sophisticated look.
Suspenders come in extremely skinny and wide varieties. Determining the strap thickness depends on a few things. Looking for a pair of two of reliable suspenders? Mid-range width is a great place to start, which is anywhere from 1.25-1.5 inches. 1/2-1 inch ranges are trendy If you’re a hefty guy, have a wide build, or want a pair of suspenders meant to be worn for a physical job, then a strap thickness of approximately 2 inches works perfectly.
If you want to know what you should wear with your suspenders and what accessories to add to your look, consider the following:
Bow tie and suspenders: This is a classic combination that makes a great presentation when done right. The way to make sure you pull it off is to make sure neither your bow tie or your suspenders are clip-on.
Tie and suspenders: Especially if you’re doing business or going to a formal event, a tie is a great option. Make sure you follow the color rules we went over earlier and you’ll look great.
Any collared shirt: Suspenders go great with any collared shirt, both short and long-sleeved. Just make sure the colors go well together and don’t clash. Also, avoid doing too many patterns at one time.
Vest/Waistcoat: A vest or waistcoat definitely goes well with suspenders. Back in the day, men wore them to cover up suspenders since they were previously considered undergarments. Just make sure you remember to put your suspenders on after your waistcoat when you’re taking bathroom trips!
Other accessories: Some other things to help jazz up your look include tie pins, tie chains, cufflinks, pocket squares, a fedora, a watch, and all of that classy stuff!
Even though suspenders are great and you may want to make them an eye catcher for your outfit, they are meant to be a complementary part of your attire. Keep it casual and if your suit jacket comes off, your suspenders will definitely be noticed. Since men’s braces were meant to be worn as an undergarment back in the day, they are meant to be a subtle type of accessory.
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Wearing suspenders with suits is absolutely a must for formal occasions. Skip the belt and go for the braces for weddings, business events, festivities, etc. Go with white silk fabric to blend it in with your white shirt, light grey, pale cream, black, or the same material as your suit trimmings to steal the show.
On the other hand, if the occasion is right, you can pull out some novelty suspenders that have an eye-catching pattern or colors. You’ll need to make sure the color(s) or pattern you choose suits your personality. And please don’t forget, NEVER use clip-on suspenders for formal occasions…ever!
Now that we’ve told you just about everything you need to know about wearing suspenders, you can go out into the world confidently in those braces.
The most important thing to keep in mind that while the visual style is important, the most underlooked factor in style happens to be comforting. When you feel comfortable with what you wear and how you wear it, another important aspect of style shines through: your confidence.
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Read this in Italian: Come Indossare le Bretelle Uomo