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Tuxedo 101

Suspenders for Men

Suspenders or "braces" have survived the fashion rollercoaster since the 18th century and are still with us today, despite their lost status. Modified throughout time to meet the needs of practicality and fashion, suspenders have transformed from a man's necessity into an optional accessory.

Originally constructed of ribbon that attached to trouser buttonholes, the suspender has evolved into nothing more than a style statement, thanks to fashion's lowering of the waistline and invention of the belt. Still, the resilient suspender, regardless of its history, has held on and is worn by guys everywhere looking to make a style statement.

Over the years, suspender designs have morphed along with their fabrics. Original designs were "H-back" meaning they're joined together in the shape of an uppercase H. This design was later replaced by the "X-back", resembling an uppercase X, which eventually evolved into the "Y-back" suspender. Today's styles include all three options; however, the H-back is rarely seen or used in fashion.

Suspender Purpose

The suspender's purpose is to hold the trousers up, in the same way a belt does. The pants suspend from the straps, which is how they got their name. The two straps are worn over the shoulders and attach to the waistband of the pants in the front and back, with clips (alligator claws) or button slits found on each end. Those with button openings are designed to accommodate suspender pants that have buttons sewn inside the waistband. Traditionally, button braces were for formal use, but not necessarily in today's fashion world. Clips can be used with any trouser except formal ones, and are typically worn with more casual trousers.

Suspender Fabrics

Today's suspender fabrics range from silk to leather and everything in between. Just because most guys don't wear them doesn't mean those who do aren't catered to. There's a huge suspender culture that offers suspender enthusiasts every style, fabric, and color imaginable, which can be found in specialty shops and online. Who are the suspender enthusiasts of today? Typically, young men who enjoy the added style a good brace offers any outfit. However, we all wear them every time we dress in a black tie tuxedo, which requires the use of suspenders instead of a belt.

Suspender Etiquette 

So, you're thinking about venturing out of your comfort zone and adding a pair of suspenders to your wardrobe arsenal, but are unsure of how to wear them. Let's take a look at the dos and don'ts of this oldie but goodie, so you can wear them correctly and proudly.

  • Never wear suspenders and a belt together. It's redundant and never acceptable.
  • Suspenders can be worn with any outfit – casual to formal – jeans to suits and tuxedos.
  • Suspenders come in various widths. Choose wider braces for broad shoulders and chests, and narrower ones for all others.
  • Match the leather fabric found on the ends of most suspenders to your shoes, in the same way you would match a belt.
  • Opt for pants designed for suspenders, which have no belt loops, whether there are suspender buttons inside the waistband or not.
  • If the trousers have belt loops, suspenders can be worn; however they should be kept hidden under a jacket, so not to reveal the fashion fax paus. Casual pants, primarily jeans, can get away with exposing their belt loops.
  • Hire a tailor to remove the belt loops of any pants worn only with suspenders, especially if a jacket is not worn with the outfit. Buttons can be added to the inside of the waistband to accommodate button suspenders.
  • Formal suspenders worn with tuxedos always button on, and have knitted ends that are softer and less bulky than those found on other suspenders.
  • Make sure the brace color matches or coordinates with the tie, shirt, or other colors in the outfit. Remember the "color family" rule.
  • Make sure the suspender patterns compliment the rest of the outfit, especially the shirt and tie.
  • Suspenders are not recommended to be worn in the professional arena. Belts are more appropriate at the office, on job interviews, work related dinner parties, etc.
  • Social events like weddings and dinner parties are a perfect time to wear suspenders. Be mindful their style matches the formality of the suit.
  • Suspenders can be worn with bow ties or neckties.
  • When dressing, first attach the suspenders in the back, then put the pants on, and finish by attaching the suspenders in the front.


Suspenders Are a Fun Accessory!

Suspenders are a fun accessory that can be worn by anyone, regardless of age. They make a fashion statement about a guy's individual creativity and style, in addition to increasing his wardrobe's versatility. It's surprising more men don't wear them today, and I'm happy to see that younger guys have revived this classic and charming accessory. Grab a pair of suspenders today and see how they can take you from drab to dapper!

by Aaron Marino

Past Topics

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Tuxedo Shirts -
March 19, 2013
Many consider the tuxedo shirt to be the main attraction of a tuxedo ensemble; the featured piece that pulls it all together and reveals the tuxedo's magnificence and purpose. Whether you share that perspective or not, the tuxedo shirt deserves and requires as much contemplation as the tux itself – not only for esthetic value, but because the shirt, above all else, should reflect the type of eveRead More»
Tuxedo Dress Code Etiquette  -
March 14, 2013
Your invitation arrives in the mail. Your cousin's getting married, or you've been invited to a formal business dinner and you're uncertain about what to wear. Sure, you know the occasion requires you arrive in a tuxedo because the "dress code" is stated on the invitation, but you're still not exactly sure what the dress code means. Nothing's worse than showing up to a formal affair dressed impropRead More»
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March 7, 2013
Most men have the opportunity, at one time or another, to attend a formal affair. Proms, weddings, and other formal or "black tie" events require us to up the ante and look our best by wearing the suit of all suits – the "tuxedo". Although the tux has been subjected to fashion trends throughout the years, it has remained, without question, the most elegant and timeless suit a man can wear, whichRead More»
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Tailors are the unsung heroes of fashion, who, behind the scenes, perform their magic to make us look our best in the clothes we choose to wear.  Their skillful craftsmanship transforms clothing from the ridiculous to the exquisite through custom alterations that result in perfectly fitted attire.  However, tailors aren't just limited to nips and tucks. Try a tailor on for size to experience theRead More»
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