Are Suspenders Still In?

April 3, 2013 by  
Filed under Boys on the Side

Most of us have probably only seen suspenders be worn by their grandfather or great grandfather. In effect, these straps – which were invented in London in the early 19th century by clothes designer Albert Thurston in order to hold up trousers that had a high cut – fell out of fashion as uniform belts gained popularity among men. Despite this preference switch, suspenders are still being sold today since they have recently acquired the status of fashion items.

From underwear to stylish pieces of clothing

Traditionally viewed as underwear, suspenders were not meant to be seen; they actually only had a practical function – that of holding up trousers – and were therefore deliberately hidden under a waistcoat or a cardigan. In the interwar period, however, men began removing their waistcoat in public, especially in America, and the idea that suspenders should be covered progressively became obsolete.

Due to their very purpose, wearing suspenders and a belt at the same time has customarily been considered a faux pas. No wonder, then, that the expression “belt and braces” emerged to describe something that is overly prudent. Still, suspenders did not remain the preferred support garment for trousers among men for more than a few decades: at the end of the 1930s, a majority of men in America had already fallen for uniform belts.

If suspenders suffered a clear loss of popularity at the beginning of the 20th century, they have never completely vanished though. Even today, some men use H-shaped, X-shaped and Y-shaped suspenders from time to time. Famous people such as Daniel Craig and Larry King actually wear them in front of the world’s busiest cameras. Still, suspenders have become more of a fashion accessory rather than a practical piece of clothing.

Different styles

Men who wear suspenders must not fear having numerous pairs of eyes staring at them and scrutinizing their attire. In effect, since suspenders have basically lost their primary function, they clearly are worn as stylish items and they consequently draw a considerable amount of attention… just like elegant or eccentric eyeglasses that are sometimes worn prescription-less.

One does not need to have a specific clothing style to dare wearing suspenders in public, however. Suspenders actually are quite versatile: they can be worn with a chic shirt, a partly unbuttoned, casual, long- or short-sleeve shirt, a fashionable t-shirt and even a tank top! The idea is to wear the right kind of suspenders with the right kind of garment: every kind of suspenders material, shape or color does not fit every clothing style. One has to pick wisely!

For instance, formal “businessman” clothes usually are suited for wider, relatively sober suspenders. Clean, but cool shirts and pants, however, allow more freedom when it comes to fabric and colour. As to casual shirts, t-shirts and tank tops, they should be worn with relatively thin suspenders. In the light of this, suspenders are not out at all: they actually are quite in! One only needs to dare putting them on and to see the positive reactions that ensue!


About the author:

Alexandre Duval is a blogger for Simons. He is also currently completing his master’s degree in political science at the University of Quebec in Montreal.



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