Friday, December 5, 2014

Ramblings of a Brace-Wearer: A Popped Button

It is inevitable: when you wear braces you are bound to have a button pop off occasionally. The 6 brace buttons undergo strain and tension throughout the day to support your pants from the constant pull of gravity. Yesterday it happened to me: one of my brace buttons popped off on my jeans. I was wearing a pair of jeans that I only wear with braces (no belt loops). I should not be surprised, but I am!

My surprise came from the fact that I was not doing strenuous activity. The braces were not being pulled or stretched - I was simply walking in the kitchen, when I felt my left brace strap suddenly shift to the left. I looked down to find the freed button on the ground and a dangling brace tab.

Drooping waistline from the popped brace button

I think most people assume brace buttons pop off when pulled or with a significant tug. But I share this story because buttons can also pop off simply by everyday wear and tare. This gradually results in the threads losing their hold with the button slipping from the threads and coming off.

Fortunately I was wearing inverse-V brace tabs so the change in brace tension was minimal. The braces continued to support my jeans and I made it through the day. If I had been wearing braces with inverse-U tab, the strap would have been ineffective to support the pants. Here's the result:

My front, inner brace button popped off
The button that popped off was the front, inner button on the left side. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that the front-inner buttons are frequently under a lot of strain; hence they are likely to pop off. Now I’m wearing lopsided braces until I spend time to sew on the button.

Where the brace strap should be

Buttons are better than clips - even when they pop off

Braces are designed to be attached to pants or skirt with 6 buttons – 2 on the front left, 2 on the front right, and 2 in the rear. Any less than 6 buttons and the equilibrium is thrown off. Brace wearers will feel that the pants/skirt isn’t correctly supported without 6 buttons. Because the left strap is further to the side and not as taut, the strap has started to slip off the shoulder. I should sew this button back on soon!

A few days later I decided to wear clip-on suspenders with another pair of pants. I haven't worn clip-on suspenders in a while, so I thought I'd try them out again. This was a big mistake: within 2 hours of wearing them 3 of the 4 clips had snapped off. I was constantly reattaching them. I wondered why I was even wearing suspenders, as they were not keeping my pants up! 

Button-on braces attach and stay securely attached to pants much more than clip-on suspenders. Even though I didn't have all the buttons attached to the jeans, I was not constantly reattaching clips. When suspender clips pop off, you lose the only anchor on that part of the pants. With braces, when a button pops off, you still have 1 anchor holding your brace strap in place. I will wear button-on braces over clip-on suspenders any day!

Now you might think that buttons should be sewn in so securely that they never pop off. However, this is counter-productive as a popped button will save the brace tab and strap when under significant strain. A good tailor knows how much to sew the button on to keep it in place but also to give way if needed.

Given my particular situation, I think it’s fitting to explain how to sew on a brace button in my next post. Stay tuned!

Discussion time:

  • Have you popped any buttons? How did it happen?
  • Which button(s) do you find pop off?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Latest Evolution in Children’s Braces

Have you noticed the latest evolution in children’s braces? If you don’t have children or go shopping for kids clothing, you may not be aware.

To set the foundation, all children should wear braces to keep up their pants and/or skirt. Braces hold up pants as the child's hips are not fully developed – refer to my previous post for a full explanation.

The latest evolution in braces/suspenders for children is to have button-on style braces in the front and then a Y-back strap in the back that attaches to a single button – see below. 

Braces attach to pants with a single strap Proper button braces

This is a step backward, not forward, for wearing braces – let me explain. Button-on braces are more stylish and sturdy than clip-ons. Clips pop-off a lot faster than buttons. The brace strap attached by 2 buttons at the rear is twice as sturdy as having only 1 button in the rear. And it’s at the rear where most of the strain on the braces is placed, as the child bends forward and twists over the course of the day. So why have clothing manufacturers using only 1 button instead of 2? Here are some possible reasons:
  • the single strap at the back allows the suspenders to be lengthened and adjusted as the child grows. However, this can be accommodated with other braces with the levers on the front straps. In fact, the best type of braces for children have an adjustable lever on the rear strap so the back junction can also be moved to accommodate the child's size.
  • there is less material, so the pants don’t cost as much to manufacture. Costs should not determine style!
  • some straps do not have metal clips (levers), which avoids them from snapping off and hit the child. Braces are not meant to be so tense and tight that they release their potential energy when the buttons come off. The straps should be firm and comfortable, not tight.
These latest children’s pants and skirts look like they have been quickly sewn together, and added braces as an after thought. Braces should have brace loops on the front and back.  

Give children proper pants with braces, and let them play!

Discussion time:
  • Have you bought kids pants or skirt with only 1 button in the rear?
  • What do you think about this style?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Hiding Braces

Do you hide your braces under a jacket, vest, cardigan, or other layer of clothing? Are you embarrassed to be seen wearing your braces? Why?

Braces were originally part of a man’s undergarments, similar to sock garters. However, braces have come of age and now hold up their own (pun intended!). If you wear braces, and like to wear braces, display them proudly to bystanders – just be tasteful and classy.

That is what I did today. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and so I opted to wear a pair of light grey pants with Trafalgar braces and a green, blue, and white plaid dress shirt. These Trafalgar braces were one of my first purchases of braces, and I’m glad I invested in a quality pair that I’m still using today. The brace straps are stripped, with grey strip in the middle surrounded by a thin white line and a navy border strip.  The Y-back braces also have a dash of burgundy color in the rear, to keep it exciting! Here’s the look:

Trafalgar braces Rear burgundy strap

While I was at the bank a clerk commented on the outfit saying, “I like your look; very traditional with the suspenders”, by which she meant braces (I’ll excuse her for not knowing the difference). But this the point - as people wear braces the general population learns that they are called braces, not suspenders. It's not embarrassing to be seen exposing your braces. The bank clerk sees hundreds of people a day, and appreciated seeing me wear braces. The comment was not a criticism, but an appreciation of style.

So don’t feel embarrassed to display your braces in public. Wear them with class and people will appreciate the time and effort you put in to your outfit for the day.

Discussion time:
  • Have you been embarrassed to show your braces or suspenders in public?
  • How do you feel when you take off your jacket, vest, or cardigan and display your braces or suspenders?
  • What outfits have you worn recently with braces?