Saturday, August 28, 2010

Suspenders, Braces, Galluses

Americans call them Suspenders, the British call them Braces, and the French initially named them Galluses. Call them what you want, they hold up your pants or skirt in a comfortable manner.

They are strips of elastic (generally, although they can be box-cloth or other material) that go over your shoulder attaching to the front and back of the pant or skirt. They hold the pants securely in place, whether sitting or standing, and allow the pants to flow with the body when walking. In fact, one hardly notices their presence until they are needed most – when stretching or bending down.

As Alan Fusser states, “Suspenders permit the trousers to hang best, supporting the front of the pants as well as the rear. They allow the pleat to establish its proper line and make the crease of the trousers more apparent. Additionally, suspenders are more comfortable than belts, which must be drawn tight around the waist in order to hold up the trousers. With suspenders, trousers can be worn loosely around the body, the only contact one feels coming at the point where the suspenders cross the shoulders. One might also note that during the summer months the wearing of suspenders actually promotes a certain coolness, as the roominess of the trousers around the waist area makes for improved air circulation.

Suspenders also have the added advantage of allowing the length of the trousers to remain constant. Normally, a man's trousers stretch at the waistband during the course of a day. Suspenders eliminate the need to pull them up two, three, four, or more times a day. For all these reasons and more, suspenders will always remain preferable to belts in dress wear.” (“Dressing the Man” 2002).

Furthermore, Simon Crompton points out, there are 3 main arguments for wearing braces:
  1. to wear pants at the natural waist. This is above the hip bone, around the belly button, as was the norm for much of the past century. It’s the slimmest part on your body so the shape up and over the hips is nice. (Women are increasingly realising this advantage today.) The curve down to your seat, over it and down straight in one unbroken line to black, polished calf is also attractive. Perhaps most importantly, when you put your hands in your suit pockets, no shirting is exposed, swelling ugly from the belly.
  2. for their comfort. Trousers that are hung by braces do not need to be as tight as those that need to grip onto the hips in order to stay up. They are bigger, perhaps not noticeably to anyone else but certainly to yourself. This is particularly noticed when someone puts on non-braced pants the next day. They feel constrained and needlessly tight, particularly when I sat down.
  3. for their aesthetics. Wearing braces provides a clean fall from the butt to the ankles and lengthens the legs. It really does make one look taller – perhaps even, a little broader on the torso – to lengthen the legs and shorten the trunk.

Suspenders solve the age-old problem of having to constantly pull up your pants. And they don’t just hold up pants, they can also be attached to a skirt. Men and women can wear suspenders. They are fashionable, functional, and fun. And they’ve always been there when you need them!

Discussion time
  • What do you think of suspenders or braces?
  • Do you wear them?
  • Would you try them out?
  • What holds you back from trying them?
Over the next few days, weeks, months, I’ll post more blogs about everything on braces (or suspenders), including how to wear them, a history, clip-ons vs buttons, button placement, x-back vs Y-back, and much more.
So make sure you leave comments and subscribe. Go out and wear braces!

Note: all photos are used solely for non-commercial use and to illustrate braces in fashion. No plagiarism is intended.