Everything You Need to Know About Suspenders Ditch the overalls trend. It's all about suspenders.

Male model wearing white button up with blue tie and blue polka dot suspenders

[Feature image by @ParkerYorkSmith]

But really–how do you wear suspenders?

Sure, rappers glorify Gucci belts, but when’s the last time you heard a lyric about women admiring your leather suspenders? That’s ironic, considering that suit braces are the OG fashioned accessories for keeping your pants up.

(Read next – Dressy Casual in the Age of Athleisure (opens in new window))

So here it is…

Everything You’d Ever Want To Know About Suspenders for Men

Gatsby-style culture, class, and fashion will never die. So give your belts a break, why don’t ya?

What are Suspenders, Anyway?

Suspenders, also known as suit braces, are long strips of fabric worn over your shoulders with the purpose of holding up your trousers. They attach to your pants with either suspender clips or suspender buttons. You can wear these accessories in an “X,” “Y,” or “H” shape–whichever provides the appropriate support and prevents loose straps from falling off your shoulders.

how to wear suspenders guide x y h shape

Though unless you’re a firefighter, you probably won’t be wearing the “H” variety. “X” and “Y” are the universal suspender styles.

Clip-on Suspenders vs. Button Suspenders

Some will argue that both clips and buttons (opens in new window) are perfectly acceptable. We find that claim to be rubbish. We’re big supporters of formal suspenders with buttons because they look cleaner and more refined. Suspender clips work if you’re trying to achieve a fast fashion novelty look. They can be quirky, fun and trendy. However, clips may damage the waistband of your garments over time, so be warned.

how to wear suspenders buttons v clips

FeedInspiration / ASOS

Most suit pants still have interior buttons meant for attaching suspenders. However, for pants without suspender buttons, you can easily sew them in yourself (Here’s how! (opens in new window))

How Many Inches Wide Should My Suspender Straps Be?

These days, you can find everything from super skinny to excessively wide. If you are looking to invest in just one to two pairs of frequent-use suspenders, aim for a mid-range standard width.

  • 0.5″ – 1″ Trendy and Sartorially Daring
  • 1.25″ – 1.5″ Standard Width
  • 2″ Functional and heavy-duty
how to wear suspenders thickness width

Rodgers Otieno / Abby Savage

How Do You Wear Suspenders?

Here’s how to put on suspenders:

  1. Fasten the suspenders to the back of your pants
  2. Put on your pants
  3. Fasten your suspenders to the front of your pants

You can also choose to fasten every button (or clip) first before putting on your trousers. It’s your preference.

Suspenders and Suits:

Absolute yes, but never with clips. If you’re going to be showcasing your impeccable taste and your respect for formal menswear, stick to suspenders with buttons. In this case, clip-on suspenders are a faux pas, and they’ll make you look silly.

how to wear suspenders with a suit suspdersdandy

SuspendersDandy

Suspenders and Ties:

Your standard tie, (opens in new window) as well as bowties, will go great with suspenders. You typically don’t want to match your suspenders and ties, though. The two accessories should contrast in color and print.

For a stylized vintage look, feel free to wear a bow tie (opens in new window) and suspenders together.

Suspenders and Shirts:

how to wear suspenders guide matching

@ArtBySwavveeyy / @CrazyRoka

The matching of suspenders and shirts (opens in new window) is very much akin to matching ties an shirts. If you’re wearing a solid, neutral colored shirt, you can pretty much wear any suspenders you want. If you’re going with bold-colored suspenders, you can choose a neutral, complementary, or contrasting color.

Read: Men’s Color Matching Style Guide (opens in new window)

Mixing patterns is a very contemporary style practice. You can certainly mix patterned suspenders with a printed shirt, but be wary of clashing too much. Mix finer prints with broader patterns, and try to find some continuity in color.

Suspenders and Belts?

Finally, never wear suspenders and a belt at the same time. It’s redundant. GQ’s Style Guy explains (opens in new window) it best: “Whenever I see a man wearing a belt and suspenders, which is not all that often, I think, now, here is a pessimist. Guys who wear a belt and suspenders probably carry umbrellas on sunny days and wear more than one condom.”

So, with that sentiment in mind, go forth and try suspenders for yourself. Incorporate them into any and every outfit, and leave the belts at home.

What Other Style Rules Should I Know About Wearing Suspenders?

Suspenders add a dapper touch to any outfit, from your most casual ensembles to your white tie attire. Just be sure that the suspenders’ fabric pairs well with the other fabrics you’re wearing and the overall formality of your outfit. If you’re wearing leather suspenders, it is a general rule that you should match these with your shoes. Suit jackets and overcoats go well with suspenders, but you should feel free to rock them sans cover.

The History of Suspenders (If you’re really curious)

A group of men wearing skinhead suspenders walking by people sitting on the stairs in the city during the 1960's

Prior to WWI, the only known, accepted and loved apparatus for holding up one’s trousers was–you guessed it–a good ole pair of suspenders (also known as braces). Belts were basically only used for military uniforms as a decorative piece.

Suspenders date back as far as 18th century France, where strips of ribbon were attached to buttonholes of trousers for one reason or another. Back then, suspenders were considered undergarments and were not meant to be seen in public.

In the 1820s, British designer Albert Thurston began to manufacture versions of the modern suspenders we know today. The fashion of this time period prescribed that men wear trousers so high-waisted that belts simply wouldn’t be able to do the job. Suspenders became a necessity for the sartorial gentleman.

Fast forward to the early 20th century, where a switch in favor of lower-sitting, lower-rise trousers meant that suspenders were no longer needed. The trend faded into the background, and throughout the 1920s suspenders became a sort of medical aid that doctors would prescribe for better posture and a slimmer gut. Suspenders continued to be considered undergarments until the late 1930s and early 1940s.

In the 1960s, working-class Brits adopted these accessories, combining suspenders with tight jeans that really didn’t need help staying in place. Later, in the 1970s, working women in England and the US incorporated them into their wardrobes to achieve a sort of “unisex” look (think Annie Hall).

In the late 1980s, People magazine dubbed the trend of suspenders hanging from one’s waist to be a very “sensual” and fashion-forward look. Around the same time, Steve Urkel from Family Matters made suspenders synonymous with trendy nerdiness, hipster bros.

We’ve broken down everything you need to know about this nifty accessory

Read next: Dressy Casual in the Age of Athleisure (opens in new window)

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