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Way of the Gentleman

The Ultimate Suspenders Guide

June 25, 2024 7 min read

A man wearing a blue suit with olive green suspenders and tie

Suspenders, which are often called braces in the UK, are a versatile accessory that have stood the test of time. From their practical origins to their modern-day resurgence as a fashion statement, suspenders have evolved in both function and style. They save you from wrapping tight belts around your waist and have long presented an alternative that takes any outfit to the next level. They are affordable, easy to wear, and can be worn on formal and casual occasions. Whether you want to add some flair to your office outfit or stand out at an upcoming wedding, these fun wardrobe additions provide a versatile solution. We'll explore what suspenders are, the different types and materials they come in, how to wear suspenders casually and professionally, and the best tips for incorporating them into your wardrobe like the dapper pro you are. 

What are Suspenders?

Let's not assume that everyone knows what suspenders are. If you're unfamiliar with the word, these are a pair of straps that pass over the shoulders and fasten at the front and back of a trouser's waistband.

They attach through buttons specifically installed for them or through clips to the pants. The aim is to hold them up and prevent them from sagging. They look outstanding on higher-waisted trousers and are an eye-catching and trendy addition to any outfit.

Type of Suspenders

Before diving into how to wear them, let's look at the different types on the market.

Clip-on Suspenders

Clip-ons are easily accessible and can be attached to any pair of trousers or pants. They are modern, easy to work with, and most come with a plastic safeguard to protect your waistband. That means they do not cause damage to your pants as they first appear.

Clip-on suspenders are considered acceptable for business and formal wear, but they also look snazzy with funky jeans or city shorts. To attach them to your pants, start clipping them at the middle of the waistband in the back. Once attached, pull the two straps over your shoulders to the front and clip them into the waistband.

A silver suspender is show clipped onto the waistband of a brown suit
Source: Art of The Gentleman

Button-on Suspenders

Button-on suspenders are classy and great for any event. These are the ones which traditionally are still referred to as Braces, especially in the UK. You must not forget that they require you to have buttons hidden in your trousers' waistband. If your pants do not come with the buttons, you can take them to the tailor or add them if you are handy. Of course, rather than clipping onto the waistband of your trousers, they will be buttoned on the inside for a more sleek and integrated appearance.

Wearing the button-on suspenders is similar to the clip-in. Start from the back by buttoning on before wearing your pants. Pull the straps over your shoulders to the front and loop the remaining buttons on the front waistband.

Grey tie and pants shown with button in suspenders
Source: Mens Style Pro

X, H, and Y Back suspenders

Besides the above two basic fastenings, suspenders can form an X, H, or Y shape at the back. X-shape suspenders have two straps that cross at the back, forming an "X" shape. X-back suspenders offer more support and are less likely to slip off the shoulders, making them a practical choice for active wear. H suspenders do not cross, while Y suspenders meet in the middle of your back and form a single line to the back waistband. All suspenders always form clean lines at the front.

The shape you choose depends on your personal taste. Y-back suspenders are considered modern and able to deliver an exceptionally clean silhouette. It can also deemphasize asymmetry or any form of discrepancy in shoulder height. Y-back braces are the go to choice for your typical gentleman.

3 men wearing suspenders of 3 different types. Y back on left. X back in the middle. H back on the right
Source: Tailor Bros

What Material are suspenders made of?

Suspenders can be made from various materials, each offering different aesthetics and levels of comfort. Here are some common materials:

Elastic suspenders are flexible and comfortable, allowing for a snug fit. They are often used in casual and everyday suspenders as well as being perfect for an office setting.

Leather suspenders are durable and add a touch of sophistication to any outfit. They are often used in more rustic settings or when you want to achieve a vintage look.

Silk suspenders are luxurious and smooth, making them a popular choice for formal occasions. They add a refined and elegant touch to an ensemble. A similar look can be achieved with satin material.

Polyester and cotton blend suspenders offer a balance of comfort, durability, and style. They are versatile and can be used in both casual and professional settings.

Best Way to Style Suspenders

Whether you spend most of your workday outdoors or in the office, you must choose a set that will leave you feeling comfortable all day. You can complement your braces by matching a slim-cut suit with unique patterns and hues.

It would be best if your braces matched the color of your shoes, tie, or pocket square. This brings out an authoritative and serious yet stylish look. Being able to match the elements of a suit is an art that requires practice.

Man wearing a brown suit with a striped navy shirt, knitted navy tie, and gray suspenders.
Source: Art of The Gentleman

Formal Events Stlye

Any dapper fan can confirm that these are the most versatile yet stylish accessories. They offer a perfect way to make a bold statement at formal events like weddings and office parties. If you are attending any formal event, ensure your braces match the theme of the day, if any. For example, a groom can match the braces with the bride's accessories, shoes, or bouquets.

With a Suit: Button-on Braces are the best choice for wearing with a suit. They provide a clean and polished look. Don’t fret if you are starting out, clip-ons are perfectly acceptable in a professional environment as well. Choose neutral colors like black, navy, or gray to complement your suit.

Dress Shirts: Braces should be worn over a well-fitted dress shirt. Make sure the shirt is tucked in neatly to maintain a professional appearance.

Tie and Braces Coordination: Coordinate the color and pattern of your Braces with your tie and pocket square. This creates a cohesive and stylish look.

Casual Wear Style

Many people associate suspenders with formal and classic dressing styles. In fact, many men cannot even remember the last time they wore suspenders with a casual dress code. Jeans with suspenders are back in vogue.

You can never go wrong with denim when accessorizing suspenders for casual wear. Pair a soft chambray shirt with dark denim, and then choose a suspender with a neutral color to achieve a perfect look.

Solid brown and olive green ones work best because they are versatile and work with different casual looks. You can roll the sleeves uniformly to the elbow to accentuate your casual look and make it more stylish. But this will depend on the weather conditions. Note that casual looks work best with clip-on suspenders.

Pair with Jeans: Clip-ons paired with jeans and a simple t-shirt or casual button-down shirt create a laid-back, yet stylish look. Opt for thinner widths in fun colors or patterns to add a playful touch.

Casual Shirts: they can be worn over casual shirts like flannels or chambray shirts. Leave the shirt untucked for a more relaxed vibe.

Shorts: For a summer look, wear them with shorts and a light, breezy shirt. This combination is perfect for outdoor gatherings or casual outings.

Footwear: Complete your casual look with appropriate footwear. Sneakers, loafers, or casual boots work well with suspenders, depending on the overall style you’re aiming for.

Vest or Waistcoat: For an extra touch of sophistication, consider wearing a vest or waistcoat over your braces. This can add depth and texture to your outfit while keeping the braces subtle.

Tips and Best Practices

Whether you’re wearing them casually or professionally, these tips will help you look your best:

Do I Wear a Belt with Suspenders?: No, you should not wear a belt with suspenders. They are designed to hold up your trousers on their own, and wearing both can look redundant and bulky.

Proper Fit: Adjust your suspenders so that they provide adequate support without feeling too tight. The straps should lay flat against your shoulders without digging in.

Suspenders Length: They come in different lengths. Make sure to choose a length that suits your height and body type. Adjustable versions are a good option for a customized fit.

Color Coordination: Choose braces that complement the colors in your outfit. For a cohesive look, match the color of your braces with other accessories like your tie, pocket square, or shoes.

Confidence: Wear your braces with confidence. They are a bold fashion statement, and owning the look will enhance your overall appearance.

The Best Way to Put on Suspenders

You should ensure that you put on suspenders without tangling them up. Here is how to best go about it.

1. Lay your pants on a flat surface, say bed, and ensure the waistband is visible.

2. Attach the suspenders' backend clips to the pants or button depending on the type.

3. Fasten the clips and ensure they face the outside of your pants.

4. Put on your pants and adjust the length.

5. Pull them over your shoulders and attach the remaining clips to the front waistband.

Suspenders are a timeless accessory that can elevate both casual and professional outfits. Whether you prefer the convenience of clip-on suspenders or the traditional look of button-on suspenders, there is a style and material to suit every preference. By following these tips and guidelines, you can confidently incorporate suspenders into your wardrobe and make a stylish statement.

Remember, suspenders are not just a functional item but also a reflection of personal style. So, next time you're looking to add a unique touch to your outfit, reach for a pair of Art of The Gentleman Suspenders and wear them with pride.

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