Also known as braces, suspenders are somewhat of a rarity in modern society. Needless to say, belts have become a far more convenient item for men to put on at six o’clock in the morning; but that’s not to say that suspenders don’t have their place in the fashionable male’s wardrobe.

What follows is a short A-Z on getting to know your braces. As always, please feel free to leave a comment below. So let’s get started with the most obvious of questions you’re likely to ask…

So, what exactly are braces / suspenders?

They’re long fabric straps worn over your shoulders to hold up your trousers. They usually attach to your legwear with either clips or buttons, often featuring a criss-crossing ‘X’ or ‘Y’ shape at the rear for added strength and support.

When were they invented?

It seems that many variations have existed in the past three hundred years, although the modern suspenders that men know and love today were first created by Albert Thurston in 1822; they were a smash hit with the Seventeenth century dandies as their high cut trousers made belt wearing completely unrealistic.

Are there any famous Brace wearers?

There’s Daniel “James Bond” Craig of course, not to mention various US presenters and sports casters including Larry King. Perhaps most iconic of all, however, are the pair sported by Michael Douglas in the film ‘Wall Street’.

Michael Douglas in Wall Street

What are the rules?

As always, you need to keep things simple in the beginning. If you’d like to experiment with suspenders, I’d recommend grabbing a pair in a neutral colour, particularly charcoal or navy – the two shades guaranteed to go with pretty much everything you have in your closet.

suspenders for men

Secondly, just as with your ties avoid falling into the trap of skinny or wide and instead start off with regular width braces. Unless you’re particularly thin or athletic, a regular fit will no doubt suit you the best.

Lastly, remember that it’s suspenders OR belt and never both. In the distant past it was acceptable to wear them together, but nowadays it’s seen as a definite no-no.

Oh, and as always, stay way from the novelty designs… You know why…

About The Author

Johnathan Bell is the founder, owner and main author of Guy Style Guide, a website dedicated to everyday male fashion, style and grooming. The primary mission? To guide clueless men through the tricky mindfield that is the growing world of male couture. Find him on , Twitter and Tumblr.

34 Responses

  1. James

    Like most guys i know, we would love to wear our braces in public, but are fearful of negative comments about how old-fashioned they are. It would be great if they were socially more acceptable.

    • Gordon

      Hi James. I wear my braces out in public and at work and yes it was a brave move to do that at first but now people just accept it. Most people comment that they like the style and look and wish like you they had the guts to wear them out and about. Just go got it mate and don’t give a damm.

      • Rory

        My gf gave me a pair of braces for Christmas, and I wasn’t sure if they were a joke present or not. A month on, she asked me if I had tried them on. I lied and said that I had, but in private, because although i liked them, I was embarrassed to be seen wearing them in public. I felt i had to give them another go, and was amazed that not only were they comfortable, but everyone liked the style, my family, my mates and their gfs. Just try the, they are more popular than you might think. Just keep them plain and narrow(ish).

    • Thobekani

      Hi James

      I know what u mean. i remember the day i first wore mine some people laughed while others passed nice comments about them so as time went on people become used to them. Some ladies who are work collegues of mine described me as the best dressed man in the organisation based on suspenders and how i looked in them.

  2. Lee

    Borrowed a pair of braces from my bro to attend a mates wedding, as the rented pants would not stay up, and just totally forgot I was wearing them. Took my jacket off at the reception, felt a prat, but so comfortable that I now wear braces most of the time. I haven’t lost any friends for my new found style!

    • Jon

      Lee

      Just like you I stumbled on braces when I needed them for a wedding, and couldn’t believe that I did not know i was wearing them on the day, I still shudder at the album pics of the reception and after with me quite clearly sporting my braces! Fortunately, the bride, groom and family were not upset, and I have continued to wear them , altho now more matched to my outfits than then. Navy braces on a pink shirt with grey suit was not a good choice lol.

  3. Gordon

    Hi Rory,

    Sounds like you took the plunge and found it was well worthwhile. I have never had any bad comments when I wear my braces and find most people think they are great style, and yes they are comfortable as well.

    Lee/Jon,

    Yes make sure the style and colour is right, in the UK we stick to narrow plain colours, black mainly. Loads of guys are wearing braces as they are well in fashion right now. Most guys shops sell them and loads of jeans now come with attached braces on them

  4. Dnld

    I’ve got an old “navy” coloured pair that is sitting in the closet. Time to pull them out and give em a go.

    So the question is….how should I coordinate it with my tie and would a pairing of any dark coloured shoes work?

  5. Gordon

    Hi,

    Try a nice Navy/White striped tie with a White shirt. I would stick to black shoes as well. The Navy and White will look great

  6. Drew

    Having recently lost some weight (deliberately), I found belts just did not keep my pants up efficiently, or comfortably. My bro has worn braces for some time, and i have always ribbed him unmercifully, saying how old-fashioned they were, but I sneaked into his room and “borrowed” a pair of regular width clip-ons, and could not believe how great they made me feel. Have not yet had courage to be seen wearing them, but really need to – any advice on how to overcome this fear would be appreciated.

  7. Gordon

    Hi Drew,

    Well for a start ditch the regular width ones and buy a pair of fashionable skinny ones which you can but in H&M or Topman etc. Go for a dark plain colour say Black of Navy. Wear them out with a cardigan or waistcoat over them and see how you get on. If you feel comfortable them open the cardigan or waistcoat and let it fall open now and again and see if anyone notices your braces. I am sure once they see them they will think they are great and get you to take you cargigan or waistcoat off and show them. Once people see them they are fine and most people think they look great and very stylish.

    So go for it man, loads of guys wear these skinny braces and they are sold in loads of high street shops so they must be in fashion. Don’t wear the wide ones of the any wild pattern or colours just go for the cool trendy look. Het what age are you and you Bro ? I assume you are youngest but maybe I assume wrong and of course you could both be in your 60/70’s for all I know lol.

  8. Gordon

    Anyone Reading this Thread ?

    Are braces in or out of fashion right now?

    I see more and more guys wearing them so it looks liek they are on the way up. Anyone else think more guys are wearing them now.

    • Johnathan

      I’m always reading threads whenever I get the chance 🙂

      Braces have definitely seen a ressurgence over the past twelve to eighteen months; I think more and more men are starting to see the potential in suspenders, particularly now fashion houses have re-adopted them.

      Not quite mainstream yet, but they’re getting there slowly.

      Thanks for the comments Gordon!

  9. Dave

    Hi guys

    I certainly think that more young men are trying braces these days. Whilst generally seen as more appropriate to middle aged gents, there is no reason why we youngsters should not enjoy the comfort and style opportunities.

  10. Drew

    Hi Gordon

    Finally plucked up courage to go and buy a pair of narrow braces from Tie Rack. The assistant was very helpful and encouraging, saying she had sold loads in the past few months.

    I have worn them around the house so my family and friends have seen them, and so far only positive comments. Haven’t yet had the courage to pop to the pub or corner shop in them, although the hot weather is doing it’s best to force me. Will try to persevere.

    • Gordon

      Hi Drew, Good for you mate nice choice of skinny braces and the Tie Rack ones are good quality too. Nice you family and friends think they are good. So whats stopping you wearing them out now ??? Go for it mate.

      Like the girl in Tie Rack said she has sold loads of them. Go for jeans and a t-shirt with your braces. Leave the t-shirt hanging out a bit to give a bit of rough and ready look I think that looks great with jeans, not too formal. Just go for a walk to the local shop or somewhere to get used to wearing them outside, you will soon find it easy to be seen out and about in your braces. Ge tone of your family of mates to go with you so you don’t feel like you are on your own lol.

      Let us know how you get on mate.

  11. Alan

    I read with interest the various comments on wearing braces, However one question, is it done to wear braces on full view, that is without a coat on top covering them ?

  12. Alex

    Alan

    It seems that only in the Uk is the old-fashioned view that braces are underwear, and should not be seen. This still prevents many guys from wearing braces because they are impossible to keep hidden. Just going into your pocket for change will show you are wearing braces, and as they come in so many colours and patterns these days, why should they not be seen?

    I have preferred braces to a belt for some time now, although I am only 20 years old, and did struggle to be seen in them, but once I “came out” I have felt totally at ease, and a number of my friends and work colleagues have followed suit. Times have moved on. It is no longer taboo to be seen in braces.

  13. Gordon

    I Agree Alex, Yes braces should be seen and never hidden. I find the more I wear my bracers and other guys see them the more of these other guys will have a go at wearing them. I have found a few have followed, once one wears them others do follow.

    They do come in so many colours and styles why should they be kept hidden. Most people who see mine give good comments and think they look great.

  14. Edward B

    I can’t understand why anyone would be ashamed or embarrassed to wear suspenders out in public. I have woren suspenders most of my life. As a young boy my parents made me wear suspenders. As I grew older I wore them on my sonwpants and insulated hunting pants. When I started to ride motorcycles I wore suspenders on my heavy leather overpants. Knowing well the comfort of suspenders is the reason I wear them nearly evry day on all accasions.

    I have received many positive comments as to well I look in my suspenders from both men and the ladies. I enjoy the feel and comfort of my suspenders, I have NEVER received any negative looks or comments, and even if I did I really don’t care what others think you shouldn’t either. My stand is to were your suspenders in public with pride, let the insecure where there uncomfortable tight belts.

    • Al

      Edward

      Like you, I have worn braces (suspenders in US), for many years, and see no shame in being seen wearing them now, but I did when I was younger, although I do agree they are so much more comfortable than belts. When I grew up in the 1950’s, it was much more common to see guys in their braces, because underpants did not have elastic waistbands (or if they did it was early days and they didn’t hold up), so we kept both our pants and our drawers up with braces, either clipped, or with tapes. However, as a youngster, it did seem very old-fashioned and a bit inadequate if you couldn’t keep your pants up without proper support.

      Glad they are making a comeback, particularly with the younger generation.

  15. Gordon

    Hi Al & Ed,

    Nice to hear your comments on braces. I am one of those younger guys who wears braces and agree they should be seen and not hidden. I have got a few other guys to start wearing braces as well both my friends and some of my workmates have tried wearing braces since seeing me with mine on and most of them have kept wearing them most of the time and also without any jackets on.

    If guys keep braces covered up no one else will see how nice and stylish they look and people will never know that guys wear these unless they are seen without jackets. The guys I have introduced to wearing braces have all said they never thought about wearing them untill they saw me with mine on and they are all so glad they gave them a go as they love wearing braces now.

  16. Rory

    At 20 I have finally accepted that belts simply don’t keep my pants up right, unless they are far too tight to be comfortable. Braces are the obvious answer, so why do i feel such an idiot when I wear them?

  17. Gordon

    Rory, You should never feel an idiot wearing braces, hey just look at the number of celeb’s and guys who do wear braces these days, the numbers are on the up. X-Factor was full of guys with braces on and the number of boy bands now who were braces like Wanted, JLS etc. goes to show they are not for idiots but the new style.

    Wear them with pride mate and show others you have style, bet a few of your mates will follow just takes on to start a trend off with your mates.

  18. ben

    as a man of 20 i found that wearing my suspenders high is comfortable- is that odd?

  19. Allan

    Just seen this web-site while looking for something else! Interesting subject and comments; why would anybody be embrassed I cannot imagine! Like Edward B, I always used to wear braces when I was young as the trousers my mother used to buy were designed for them, with a high waist and a fish tail back for the button on variety and this continued when I graduated to long trousers. I seem to recall that most of my school mates worn them, it was just the done thing. I stopped wearing them in late teens but found belts less comfortable so I started wearing them again in early twenties and have never looked back. With ordinary trousers I used to find the straps falling off the sholders so I went back to the high waist, but then I found braces with the Y back. It is possible to still get high waist fish tail back trousers; have a look at the Old Town website; they do what they call Vauxhalls, that have quite a modern look and are really comfortable to wear. You can get reto style Levi jeans these days too, with brace buttons and no belt loops. My wife prefers me not to show them with trousers, although it does not bother me and as I never wear a jumper or waistcoat, so they are on show as soon as I take my jacket off, but she loves them on jeans. Go for it boys!

    Allan.

  20. Ben

    In the film stand by me, the boys wear their pants really high-why??? It’s a bit weird coz in those days braces were used for hiking your pants up rather than just for fashion!

  21. Renz

    Im very shy when i was use it because they that i was to old to where them(im 15) and i just look like nerd and jerk for them, but after hours ago they dont just ignored it,,so one day I was put on again and i they like it………..

    ilove suspender like LOUIS TOMLINSON

  22. Shilpy

    I would like to get my boyfriend some braces for Christmas, but he is very thin (29 waist) so I would like to find some skinny ones. The only ones i can find are with clips, and we both prefer buttons- can you suggest brands?

  23. Ben

    I bought some black suspenders for 10 quid from topman on Friday and I am very impressed by the look and quality of the material! My wife really likes it when I wear them with y red chinos, but can any of you amazing boys tell me what I could wear on top because the straps get all bunched up all the time it’s really annoying! Help!!!!

  24. Michael Kimball

    I started buying Varvatos pants that came with attached suspenders in 2009- now have three. Also bought suspenders over the last few years at Zara and H&M.

    At first I was self-conscious about the look, so I eased into it- wore them under a jacket or sweater. Then openly with a henley for a more casual look. If you don’t want to stand out so much, I think the the casual look is best.