I remember growing up, there was this preacher who used to come around the house and what I really fancied about him wasn’t the ‘gospel’ he came to preach, it was the fact that he always had a different pair of suspenders every time he came around and I thought to myself, “I’d love to wear one of those someday”. It’s kind of hard to fathom, but believe it or not, the belt is a relatively recent invention. Prior to the First World War, the favored method of keeping one’s trousers up was with a pair of suspenders.
Nowadays, suspenders (or braces, as they’re called by our British brothers) are often viewed as an artifact from another era or emblematic of certain kinds of people or professions – they’re worn by bankers or iconically by punk rockers and hipsters.
However, as we’ve started to shift as a menswear culture towards an appreciation of quality and well-appointed details in Nigeria, suspenders can now be considered as just another element in the well-dressed modern gentleman’s clothing playbook.
Here are some guidelines on how to wear suspenders.
Don't be this guy.
This is a real ‘line in the sand’ issue for me. Suspenders are a method of keeping your pants up. A belt is another method for keeping your pants up. Don’t ever, or like my Mum would say ‘Don’t you ever’ wear suspenders with a belt or vice versa. It’s the same as wearing a tie bar with a waist coat or wearing sun glasses with a face cap. It’s either one or the other. Do not cross that line.
Suspenders used to come in different lengths and sizes. Now virtually all suspenders have adjusters. When dialing in the right length, there’s a balance between too loose and too tight – the latter can lead to an uncomfortable tightening of the pants between the buttocks. I’m pretty sure no one wants that, and even if you do, no one wants to see that.
Suspenders are best on pants that have a little room around the waist. If your pants are too tight – or perfectly fitted to your waist – you don’t need suspenders. Unless, of course, you’re looking to add an unnecessary fashion accessory to your look and I dare say you could go unpunished.
This is a topic that could rouse a lively debate: wearing suspenders on pants that also have belt loops.Conservativists will tell you that if you’re wearing suspenders on a pair of pants with belt loops that you’re not all-in. I can respect that.
However, it is nice to have options. Especially if you’re going to be spending your hard-earned money on bespoke/made-to-fit suits. Maybe you’d like to style the suit with a belt sometimes, but also reserve the right to wear suspenders when the mood strikes.
My opinion is this: there’s nothing wrong with wearing suspenders on pants with belt loops. Having said that, it does look cleaner, more sophisticated and more committed if you forego the belt loops for side tabs. I get all my pants now without belt loops. That’s just me, anyway.
These days, suspenders come in either button or clip ends and both are fine really but it’s preferable to go with the button clips. If not for anything, it’s safer than the clip end because once fastened, you do not have to worry about the clip pulling off your trouser while you’re in motion.
A pair of suspenders is not an accessory that’s meant to be flaunted. Back in the day, they were considered a form of underwear – a not-quite unmentionable that wasn’t particularly meant to be seen. Some folks may disagree with me on this one but when you’re talking about classic elegance in men’s fashion, subtlety rules the day (and night).
Finally, to end this post with another ‘line in the sand’ item for me. When it comes to formalwear, suspenders are de rigueur. A belt with formal attire is a non-starter.