|Buttons should be aligned with the pleats, |
marked by the red dots
Placement of buttons is critically important to wearing braces. It determines where the brace straps lie and the line of the pants. In fact, you can probably notice a man wearing braces with a suit even when he has his jacket on, by the way the pant line cuts down the middle (when worn with pleated pants). Buttons that are too close to the mid-section are uncomfortable and get in the way; too far apart, and the buttons do not adequately support the pleat and pant lines. This is true for both the front and back of the pants.
Alan Fusser notes that there should be four buttons in the front: one over each of the main pleats, the other two just forward of the side seam. Depending on the brace tabs length, I find that 3.5-4 inches from pleat to side seam is comfortable and provides superior support. In the back, there should be two buttons (for Y-back and X-back style), equidistant from the center of the fork of the braces, so it falls naturally. Here it depends on the style of braces you plan to wear – Y-back braces require buttons closer together (about 2 inches on each side of the middle seam) while buttons for X-back braces should be spaced a little farther apart. I’ve found that 3-4 inches on each side of middle seam is comfortable. There is also a variety that has 4 buttons in the back for X-back braces:
Button placement and clip placement on the front
The placement of the buttons in the front of the pants is critical to supporting the line of the pants. To illustrate Alan Fusser's advice above, here are 2 pictures:
What if you are wearing clip-on suspenders - where do you place the clip? This is precisely the problem with clip-on suspenders - they do not adequately support the pants. You must compromise and place the clips either on the main seam or the the middle between the main seam and side seam. Try a number of locations and see what feels most comfortable for you.
Button placement and clip placement on the back
Just as the placement of the buttons on the front is important, it is even more important on the back. This is generally the place where newbie suspender-wearers get confused, as they will likely be wearing X-back style, and attach the clips either too close together or too far apart on the waistline:
1. If the buttons are too close together, you can get a wedgie.
Also, if the clips are too far apart, you may cause the waistline to bulge outward, ruining the flat line.
Therefore, it is critical that you determine the right balance for the rear buttons along the waistline. They should be equidistant from the center of the rear seam, but not too far that they create a bulge out. This exact distance depends on the size of the individual, the position of the back junction, and length of the back straps, so this will vary by suspenders and braces. Here is an example of appropriate distance of the straps at the rear:
Buttons inside or outside?
The buttons may be sewn inside or outside the waistband, depending upon personal preference. Historically, when vests were worn and concealed the braces, the buttons were sewn on the outside. When people started shedding vests, the buttons migrated to the inside. I personally don’t notice a difference when wearing braces on the outside or inside, but you may. As for fashion, I think it can be very stylish to display the brace buttons on the outside of your pants or skirt. However, it can be distracting if the pants also have belt loops.
Wearing belts and braces at the same time - biggest newbie blunder
Pants / skirts to be worn with braces should not be worn with a belt. You don’t need both a belt and braces to perform the same function of holding up your pants / skirt. There is redundancy here, in addition to looking bad. Therefore, the wearer must decide how to wear the pants – with braces or with a belt.
Therefore, pants to be worn with braces should not accommodate a belt and so should have no belt loops (or be removed). Pants to be worn with braces should be a little larger at the waist so that they are actually "suspended" from the shoulders.
|The skirt on the right is too large|
around the waist; on the left is
|The front side of the skirt from the left picture displays |
the correct waist size, button placement and suspension
(unfortunately the brace material is deteriorating)
While we are discussing button placement, we should also discuss buttons for braces. Brace buttons should:
- have 4 holes (rather than 2) to anchor the button to the pants. This provides proper support.
- be cone-shaped on the side facing the brace strap. If a straight button is used, the button threads will start to dig into the leather brace strap when tension is applied and cut it from the button hole on the brace strap. Eventually, or with enough force, the button hole will break open and the braces will lose tension. The button may still be attached, but the brace strap is unusable as the button hole is ripped open. To avoid this situation, cone-shaped buttons should be used.
- match the inside lining of the pants if they are on the inside. If the buttons are on the outside, feel free to sew on decorative buttons or ones that match the pattern.
One of the chief advantages put forth by the proponents of clip-on suspenders is that there is no buttons popping off – once a clip snaps off you can easily reattach it. While this is true, it misses the point of using buttons for braces and the style benefits of buttons.
Balance is needed when determining the strength of the button threads to anchor braces – too strong and the brace strap will break from pressure resulting in the braces not being usable, too weak and the button threads will be constantly failing and buttons popping-off, resulting in the need to sew on the buttons. Contrary to belief, buttons popping off is not poor design. In fact, braces are attached with buttons to allow them to pop off under significant stress to save the brace loop button holes and ultimately the braces. I would rather have a popped button than a broken button hole on the brace loop, resulting in the braces being unusable. Therefore, use the right thread weight and strength when sewing on the buttons. I’ve generally found that about 3 threads through each button hole is sufficient.
|Gary Cooper displays excellent button placement and style.|
- Where do you find button placement to be most comfortable?
- Do you prefer buttons on the inside or outside?
- Do you find your buttons are popping off?
- Have any humorous stories of buttons popping off?
Note: all photos are used solely for non-commercial use and to illustrate braces in fashion. No plagiarism is intended.