I started wearing suspenders at a young age. My first suit, a standard black suit with black pants, came with clip-on suspenders. The suspenders were striped, narrow X-back suspenders, and the clips had small time-clocks printed on them. The suspenders were stripped with red and blue in the middle, surrounded by white and navy stripes. I can remember how comfortable they were to wear, and I wanted to wear them all the time. Eventually, due to the excessive use, the rear clips started to snap off occasionally. But I didn't care, I was wearing suspenders! Here’s a photo with my suit jacket off:
Back to braces… my first pair of button-on braces was a pair of black and white Ascot Satin Braces by Trafalgar. I thrifted them and they were in excellent condition, showing no sign of age. In fact, I still own them.
I generally prefer vintage braces – older, unique and rare braces that are in great shape. These are unavailable at department stores, so I hunt for them in vintage shops and second-hand thrift stores. For anyone wanting to start wearing braces, I’d recommend looking at second-hand stores first before paying $100-200 for a pair of high-end, quality braces.
I prefer to wear braces, as compared to suspenders, as I find the placement of buttons is superior to only clips. Braces fully support the pants and adjust with your body movement. Additionally, I find them more classy and traditional than suspenders that trend-seekers can snap-on and snap-off at will. The feeling of snapping on a pair of braces is priceless, as it gives you a peace of mind that your pants will stay in place and be comfortable all day.
I currently have about 20 button-on braces and 6 clip-on suspenders, and looking to increase. I am very selective and specific in the braces and suspenders that I buy. I'm currently looking for a historic pair of braces that are not made anymore. They were called President Suspenders and had a "give-and-take" feature in the back to accommodate every body movement.
President Suspenders were not just for men, they also made a line for women:
I have yet to see these braces being worn in person. Let me know if you have a pair and have photos!
In the meantime, I will wear braces. My favorite outfit is black braces with black dress pants on a white dress shirt. Some frequent outfits I wear are a dark suit with black or navy braces and a tie, and a grey suit with light blue suspenders. Here’s a photo with my one and only:
I did a photo shoot in the vintage part of town last year, and I wore simple black, Y-backed braces, over a white dress shirt, with a stripped tie and fedora:
As I mentioned, I wear braces with business-wear and formal wear. I sometimes wear braces with casual wear, if the braces are casual and the pants fitted with buttons. I generally wear suspenders with jeans and a t-shirt and have a number of suspenders, including a solid navy pair, and stripped pair of light brown and green.
I encourage you to join in by posting your photos online – upload them to an online site like flickr or photobucket and then provide the link in the comments below - please keep the photos appropriate.
Lets share ideas and spread the message that its stylish to wear braces and more comfortable than a belt!
Note: all photos are used solely for non-commercial use and to illustrate braces in fashion. No plagiarism is intended.