Within a short time, suspenders, which were originally quite heavy and rather uncomfortable, became the favored choice of nobility and were eventually considered the mark of any well- dressed gentleman. In fact, no properly attired Victorian man would have dared consider himself affianced to any young woman of breeding until she had presented him with a pair of suspenders embroidered by her own dainty hands.
In this country, suspenders were also considered the only choice of the well-dressed man, but by the end of the nineteenth century, this thinking began to undergo a slow yet inexorable change. This change was due, at least in part, to the uniforms men wore during the various wars that flared up during the late nineteenth century. Belts became more popular as shoulders were emphasized and waists pulled in, simply in an effort to appear more threatening and imposing.
By the early 1900s, folded belts were all the rage. They were fashioned by joining two-inch strips of cowhide, then stitching the edges to produce a rounded, pliable belt one inch in width. Also popular during this period was the Sam Browne officer's belt, which appealed not only to veterans but to other men as well.
But it was probably S. Rae Hickock, a successful dealer in leather goods, who did more than anyone to ensure the success of the belt industry when he began to manufacture belt buckles with etched monograms around 1910.
By the time American men returned home from world War I, they were wearing coarse yarn belts, which quickly caught the fancy of the general male populace. However, during the summer, when vests and jackets came off, belts went on as men chose not to expose their suspenders. Also during this period knickers became popular, further limiting the use of suspenders. And although suspenders maintained their popularity well into the decade of the 1920s, by the time the stock market fell, most men's trousers were being held up by belts.
Though they have recently experienced a renaissance of sorts, today suspenders are but a small part of the haberdashery industry. Belts, on the other hand, come in many colors, widths, and all sorts of materials, ranging from leather to fabric to plastic.” (“Dressing the Man”, 2002).
Women have been wearing braces for as long as men have, because they work and are stylish!
As you can see, belts have taken over for suspenders, not because they are functionally superior, but because it was considered a source of embarrassment to display suspenders. Considering that we now live in the 21st Century, this embarrassment has slowly dissipated, and now, in 2010, suspenders are not being hidden underneath vests and suit jackets, but being proudly displayed. The range of colors, fabrics, and designs has increased significantly.
- How long have you been wearing braces for?
- Do you wear braces proudly or with embarrassment?