Long before belts became standard attire, suspenders were the most common method of keeping your trousers from falling. Truthfully, they’re far better at it than a belt.
While a belt tightens your pants around your waist, increasing the friction and making it harder for them to slip, a pair of suspenders works directly against gravity and is therefore far more effective.
But it shouldn’t only be the function that influences your style decisions; suspenders can look dapper and add a little bit of flair to your outfit. While they are less popular than ever before, stylish men from LA to Paris are wearing them daily because it allows them to stand out and shows their sense of style.
Choose Between Clip-on and Button Suspenders
When you’re choosing how to wear your suspenders, you’ll need to decide between clip-on and button attachments. Clip-on suspenders are the same as clip-on bowties, they work, but they don’t look as good, and everybody around you knows it. Buttons are the traditional way to attach your suspenders, but it also helps to hide the clip and give you a more sleek look.
The vast majority of suit trousers will come with buttons for you to attach to, but if they don’t, you can easily install them yourself or have a tailor do it for a few dollars. By opting for buttons, you’ll open yourself up to a greater market and therefore more design options for you to choose from.
Lose the Belt
Belts and suspenders are a binary choice, despite what you see some men wearing. Opting for both is not only redundant, but it also looks silly. When you’re wearing suspenders, it’s also wise to use them on pants that don’t know belt loops because it accentuates the traditional look and makes your outfit look superior.
Get the Right Rise and Length
An important decision to ensure both a stylish outfit and your comfort is the rise of your pants and also the length of the suspenders. No matter how hard you try, some pants aren’t designed to be worn with suspenders, especially in Europe. Many pants across the pond are designed to be worn low on the hip and attaching suspenders will not only be uncomfortable but can also leave them looking short and vacuumed on your legs.
The right rise is mid-to-long and ensures that even when pulled up considerably they will still be the right length. Similarly, with this style of rising you’ll typically get a little more room in the crotch, and therefore you shouldn’t find any discomfort when you attach even a tight pair of suspenders.
When it comes to length, you should first attach the suspenders at the back and then the front. Ensure that the strap travel vertically down your front and doesn’t move to either side at all. If you are over 6’3, you might find that you will need a larger or longer pair of suspenders to prevent pain in your shoulders and an overly raised pair of pants.
Wearing Suspenders Casually
In this day and age, we often associate anything traditional with formal attire, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Suspenders have been worn for generations by both working-class men and aristocratic gentlemen, and regardless of the pants that you’re wearing, that add a certain class and style that a belt can’t provide.
However, when you’re wearing them casually, you do need to ensure that they don’t look out of place. For this reason, it’s probably best to avoid them with shorts and even with rugged jeans in most cases. While khakis, chinos, trousers, and smart jeans can all look fantastic with suspenders when the right colors and matching pieces are chosen.
While formal attire will often dictate that your color choices are limited, with casual clothing you can pick anything. A tan pair of khakis don’t necessarily need tan suspenders, you could choose a blue and yellow pair, especially if you’re wearing a jacket which allows them only to be seen at a glance rather than constantly.
Another alternative is that you match the color of your suspenders to another piece of clothing, whether a pocket square, tie or even your bag. By doing this, your outfit will seem more coordinate, and this makes it easier on the eye, instantly making you look far more stylish and elegant.
When it comes to the suspenders themselves, casual attire should be the only time that you consider wearing clip-on suspenders. Similarly, the thickness of the straps could vary greatly from slim to oversized depending on the look that you’re going for. Typically a thin strap will look fashion forward, while oversized straps can give you a more rugged appearance because they are associated with the straps that workers would have worn in years gone by.
Wearing Suspenders Formally
On the other hand, if you’re wearing suspenders with more formal attire in a stricter environment, then there are a few more “rules” that men need to follow. While it can differ from crowd to crowd, typically you will be expected to be more conservative with your fashion choices.
In which case, the primary color of your suspenders should ideally match the color of your suit or jacket. At the very least, it shouldn’t be significantly different. However, if you want to use your suspenders as an eye-catcher, you might opt to go one shade lighter with them. For example a classic or royal blue with a navy suit.
Clip-on suspenders have no place in formal attire, not least because the metal grips will dig into the delicate fabric of your suit and ruin it permanently. They also don’t have the same style appeal and trousers will typically have buttons for you to attach your suspenders to anyway.
When it comes to form, smart or formal suspenders usually have an even width from top to bottom, and they should be of a standard thickness. Formal attire isn’t the place to make huge fashion statements, and therefore it’s often wise to be conservative when going outside of the norm.
Similarly, the attachments to your buttons are usually made out of leather or a particularly thick fabric. If they are leather, it’s often wise to match the color of leather to your shoes in the same way that you would with a belt and a watch. Again, this helps to ensure consistency throughout your outfit, giving it an extra sense of chic and rounding it out properly.
Give the Old Way a Try
Many men are too afraid about just looking good to step outside of the norm and try a blast from the past like a pair of suspenders. But you’re not just any man. Suspenders never went out of style, those of us who care about fashion know that, and they can elevate your existing outfit to a new stratosphere that that majority of men will never touch.
Suspenders shouldn’t be scary; they are there to be simple. Match them to your attire if you’re worried, opt for buttons rather than clip-on and forget about the belt or pant loops. Once you’ve got them under control, consider broadening your horizons with flashier straps and differing patterns that make more of a statement.