How to choose suspenders and when to wear them
Braces or suspenders as they are also known are not exactly top of the list when it comes to must haves for the average suit-wearing gent. In many a man’s eyes, they’re the banker’s trademark or a useful pants holder-upper for the octogenarians of the world. But if you’re of this school of thought then we’re here to tell you that you couldn’t be further from the truth.
Today, men’s braces are an incredibly versatile accessory that can completely change a look by simply being there. Not only that but they’re functional, and alongside the cufflinks are the most practical of men’s accessories.
So how should you go about choosing a pair?
Know the styles
Take a walk into a men’s store that specialises in men’s braces and you’ll feel overawed at the range of styles and designs that are on the market.
The forms – Not sure if Coldplay are into braces but they coincidentally named one of their albums after the two forms of backings available in braces; X&Y. The X includes two back straps that cross over whereas the Y has a centre point in the middle of your back where the two front straps meet and become one. Your choice here is purely a matter of personal taste as both perform well at holding the back of your pants in place.
The fasteners – These are the parts that connect your braces to your pants, and we can’t stress how important it is to make the right choice here.
- Clip-on connectors will grip the waistband of your custom tailored suit and may stress the fabric, so they’re not ideal for wearing with your formal wear. Best for casual wear
- Button braces make use of buttons sewn into the inside of your waistband to hold your pants up and are considered the most stylish choice for formal wear but also fit in well with a smart casual look. Suits any occasion
- Combined fasteners bring together both of the above and while they may have their advantages we prefer items that do one job extremely well rather than those that do two jobs adequately.
From plain solid colours to stripes and patterns, you could grow a beard of epic proportions in the time it would take you to browse through the designs on offer in the world of men's braces today. Like your tie or your pocket square, braces can be an extension of your personality so play around and have fun with the designs on offer. Be careful though, if the pattern is overly complicated then your braces may look a little more like a novelty than a sartorial statement. And novelty items are like the kiss of death to a suited look.
Choose colours that contrast well with your shirt and that have minimal patterns such as thin vertical stripes, or patterns that make use of subtle hues to retain a refined, understated look.
As you may well know, braces are adjustable, and one size quite literally fits all but in terms of width they can be anything from super slim to wide and chunky.
Slim width is unsurprisingly most suitable for a thinner man especially if he is wearing a skinny or slim fit suit.
Extra wide are those that are worn in extreme casual settings and are often part of the more edgy punk look or worn by the blue collar man.
Medium width is the happy middle ground where most of us find that the porridge tastes just right. This is the perfect size for the majority of men and the majority of their suit styles.
When to wear them
While we love a good leather belt, braces have been enjoying a renaissance of late, and their upfront visibility makes them the ideal catalyst for making a statement in style. So to be frank, there’s never a wrong time to retire the trusty old belt and don the braces. And just to give you an idea of what you can do with the right pair of braces here are two looks you might try out.
Casual – A pair of patterned clip-on braces used to hold up your chinos or vintage jeans paired with runners sets you apart from the crowd and is a surefire conversation starter.
Formal – A pair of button braces in a contrasting colour to your business shirt, say tan braces with a blue shirt, is a great formal look for the office no matter what style of suit you have chosen and gives the impression of both confidence and professionalism.
Now if you haven’t been converted by now, then we hope that you have at least opened your mind to the possibility of trying out a pair of braces the next time you wear a suit. Trust us when we say that until you’ve tried it, you really don’t know what you’re missing.
At Oscar Hunt we have a wide selection of suspenders, we invite you to come into the showroom and view our options.