Saturday, April 16, 2011

Why people wear braces

Throughout history, there have been certain groups that have worn braces or suspenders. The primary reason is to hold up their pants, and generally fall under the following categories:

For necessity
Young children need suspenders because they have no stomach at all. Their pants are always falling down with all their movement and if they don’t have elastic in the waistband.

Obese males wear braces because a belt would just slip down.

Suspenders are generally incorporated into snow pants to keep snow from getting inside.
For necessity because of your occupation
Firefighters are in life and death situations, and need their pants to stay up. In fact, the back of the braces on firefighter’s pants has more connection points to ensure there are no gaps for exposure to the elements. As the old joke goes, “Why did the fireman wear red suspenders?” “To Keep his pants up!”

Loggers wear braces with their jeans to keep their pants up while out in the forest.

Plumbers are bending under sinks and cabinets. Without braces, they would be revealing too much of their rear. More plumbers should be wearing braces to avoid showing their crack.

Farmers spend their day outside doing manual labor. They do not have the patience to constantly pull up their pants. Wearing braces on their jeans provides comfort and reassurance that their pants won’t fall down during the day. Additionally, a plaid shirt, jeans, and suspenders fits a farmer image.
Cowboys sometime wear suspenders to hold up their heavy pants

Hockey players wear suspenders to hold up their over-sized hockey pants.

Fishermen wear hip waders when they go waist-deep into the water.
Clowns wear suspenders to create practical jokes, and to keep their over-sized pants from falling to the floor with one step.

Mimes wear suspenders to accent their black and white shirt

Santa Claus wears braces as he has a large stomach from Mrs. Claus’ cooking!

For status
Lawyers, bankers, and financiers do a lot of sitting down, and a belt can be uncomfortable after a while. Braces offer the proper comfort and style with trousers that are a little larger at the waist and paired with a business suit. In addition, they are required with a vest and suit. Braces are generally worn by older, well-established businessmen, but there’s no rule that says young professionals cannot wear braces.
Gordon Gekko from the Wall Street movie

Skinheads use suspenders to display status. The status changes from region to region, and generation to generation, so it’s difficult to define.

Zoot suits were notorious for having very high-waisted pants. The pants can only be held up with braces.

Lederhosen use suspender straps to hold up the leather shorts. These shorts do not have a belt and because leather does not stretch or fit comfortably to the body, they would fall down without the necessary straps. Additionally, the straps denominate family class or regions. More details available here.

So why don’t other groups use braces? Such as pregnant women? There are some specialized suspenders for pregnant mothers but why not wear suspenders with your maternity pants? They are much more comfortable than wrapping more material around your waist.

Additionally, there's one more significant reason, which I'll discuss in the next post.

In conclusion, braces have been worn by a lot of different people. But when it comes down to it, people use braces and suspenders because they are very comfortable and stylish.

Discussion Time:
1. What group do you fall under when you wear braces?

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


  1. disabled often need braces on their pants for a number of reasons. perhaps you could research this.

    1. Yes I am disabled and wars braces now because I have to use two sticks very hard to pull trousers up

    2. Yes I am disabled and wars braces now because I have to use two sticks very hard to pull trousers up

  2. From my point of view there's no significant group someone belongs to wearing trousers braces. It is just a personal standard of comfort and style.

  3. I think braces are generally an ageist thing. As a youngster, you need braces to keep your pants up, and don't suffer from the stigma of being ribbed about it. Children do not poke fun.
    Once you pass 40, your shape also dictates you need braces, and as long as you are settled in a relationship, you do not need to be a fashion plate, so older guys wear them without embarrassment. Between 16 and 40, it is rare for a guy to wear braces in public, although a number of my friends do so in private.

    I live in a 3 generation household, and my Grandad has always worn braces, my Dad has worn them since about age 35, and I have tried them and absolutely love the comfort they provide, but am waiting to show them in public until more guys follow suit.

  4. I don't think it relates to any particular group - just on how concerned you are at receiving comments on what are the most comfy accessory a guy can wear. You can enjoy your pants that much looser, so no discomfort from a tight waist, and yet not have to keep hitching them up. Once you have braved comments from the first time you are seen in them, nobody makes any further snide remarks, and you can get on with your life!

  5. I like braces because they are comfortable.Style plays no part in my reason for wearing them.All of my trousers have suspenders buttons and do not have belt loops so I wear them everyday. Have never owned a belt in my life and I am 63 now.

  6. I think braces used to be an ageist thing but no longer. My granddad always wore braces, when he died my Dad started to wear them , and when he died, I started to experiment as well. I used to criticise my Dad for exposing his braces in public, but never my Granddad, as I deemed he came form a different era! I must confess I do find braces very efficient and comfortable, at the ripe old age of 39, but did find them embarrassing to wear in public, until my 18 year-old son started proudly displaying a pair a few months ago. Apparently they are very fashionable at present, so lets hope more men will wear them, so i FEEL BETTER ABOUT BEING SEEN IN MINE.

    1. Came across this and would like to contribute.
      I have always liked wearing braces but have been shy of letting them be seen. When I was younger I used to think I would wear them as I got older but even now (65) am shy in some circles.
      In hindsight I wish I had worn them and shown them with pride years ago as I see comments on the internet from a lot of guys who seem to have a secret liking for braces. Wear them with pride chaps!

  7. Can someone tell me what would be the correct,or better, suspenders to wear with a suit? I like wearing all elastic suspenders but I recently read that fabric is better with only the back strap being elastic.

    1. @Anonymous: Suits are correctly worn with button-on braces, rather than clip-on suspenders. The metal clips of suspenders tear at the waistband and will ruin the cloth of a quality pair of pants over time. Additionally, correct button placement allow the pants to be held up at the right place to improve the overall drape of the pants. As such, you should ask your tailor to sew in buttons - see my post on Sept 8, 2011 about button placement.

      High-end braces are made of boxcloth, which is firmer than elastic and durable than elastic - elastic looses its elasticity over time. See my post on September 25, 2011 about brace materials.

      As you mentioned, most suspenders today have the back strap elastic (the "Y-back braces") to give some stretch to the brace. If you are looking for the more traditional X-back style, Cole Haan also makes a number of X-back braces that have elastic in the lower half of the 2 X-back straps, and provide the same stretch as the elastic in Y-back braces.

      Hope this helps answers your question. Enjoy wearing braces with your suit!


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