Saturday, June 16, 2012

Children Wearing Suspenders

Children have a natural need to wear suspenders – their hips have not fully developed and so wearing anything at the waist will simply cause the pants to fall to their feet. This is exactly where suspenders are needed. All children can and should wear suspenders to hold up their pants. They are comfortable and stylish. Furthermore, as the child grows, the suspenders can be adjusted to accommodate the growth, and the child can enjoy learning and playing all day without the nuisance of constantly pulling up their pants. As long as children have been wearing pants, they have been wearing braces.

Some modern outfits:

And braces for formal occasions:

At a younger age, Prince William wore braces:

Braces are not only for boys, girls also look sharp in them with a skirt:

Button-on braces or clip-on suspenders?
Should a child wear button-on braces or clip-on suspenders? You may think that buttons will pop-off faster than suspenders, given the high level of movement and activity that children do  during the day. However, clips are only effective in gripping pant material and cannot accurately hold onto the pants over time - they will eventually snap off. Buttons, on the other hand, will remain in tack even when there is significant movement and activity. Furthermore, even with 1 button popped off, the pants will still stay up, as the braces have 6 connection points compared to only 4 with suspenders (refer to my previous posting on connection points). 

For example, refer to the photo below. The boy's side brace buttons have both popped-off, but his pants remain up and comfortable - he simply needs to get new buttons sewn on the sides.

Buttons are more secure than clips, and for this reason children should wear button-on braces.  Historically, when braces were predominantly worn in society during the first quarter of the 20th century, children wore braces:

As the century progressed clip-on suspenders became more common and boys started wearing them to keep their pants up.

Nevertheless, children should wear braces to hold up their pants. Children's pants rarely come with buttons, so unless you are prepared to sew buttons on to their pants (which is not that difficult), they are relegated to wearing clip-on suspenders.

What to look for when selecting children braces
The first thing to remember is that children are smaller in size than adults. As such, the braces should have smaller straps to ensure the braces fit comfortably on the child. This means that the straps are narrow, the brace loops not too large at the front of the chest, and the straps are not too long to fit comfortably.This photo displays a proper fit:

Secondly, the straps should be adjustable in both the front and back, to allow for adjustments when the child grows, as well as adjust the back junction, if possible. This is primarily for Y-back suspenders. The back strap should adjust to fit the child. 

Thirdly, if you are going to use clip-on suspenders, I highly recommend X-back style. This provides 2 connection points at the rear to hold up the pants - right where the child needs it the most as they will be bending over, stretching and reaching, which will put a lot of strain on 1 clip at the back. The rear junction should be adjustable to accommodate the child's growth.
Get X-back suspenders for children

In summary, if you have children, give them some relief from constantly pulling up their pants and get them a pair of braces. They will thank you for the comfort!

  • If you have children, do they wear suspenders or braces?
  • Did you wear braces or suspenders as a child? What did you wear clips or buttons?
  • Did you enjoy wearing braces or suspenders as a child?

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

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What Braces does Backtobraces Wear?

Readers have requested I post photos showing evidence that I wear braces. I am all too happy to oblige! It goes without saying that if I’m giving advice on wearing braces, I should also wear them. So this post is all about me wearing braces and suspenders.

I started wearing suspenders at a young age. My first suit was a standard black suit with black pants, but it came with clip-on suspenders! The suspenders were narrow stripped X-back suspenders, and the clips had small time-clocks printed on them. The strips of the suspenders were red and blue in the middle, surrounded by white and navy stripes. 
I can remember how comfortable they were to wear as they held my pants at my waist all day long. I didn't know it at the time, but these were high-waisted pants, and I wanted to wear them all the time. Eventually, due to the excessive wear, the rear clips started to snap off. I figured out how to keep the clips secured by attaching them to the pant fabric at the pleat. Thinking back now, I don't recall a waistband or loops for a belt, so this suggests the pants had a "Hollywood style" waistline with the pant fabric going all the way up to the waist. Here’s a photo with my suit jacket off:
After wearing suspenders during my pre-teen years, I didn’t wear them again until university. I'm not sure why, maybe because I didn't wear a lot of suits as a teenager. When I got to university I started wearing a suit again for networking events and began researching accessories to add that would give me some personality and set me apart from others. I came across button-on braces and remembered how much I enjoyed them as a child. 
I have been wearing braces ever since. (I also enjoy wearing bowties and cufflinks). It's these small details that add personality to a standard suit and set men apart from the standard dark suit with white shirt outfit.

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 for a pair under $20 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 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:

A more recent outfit I wore was a white dress shirt with a polka-dotted bow-tie and black X-back braces. I received many complements and will do it again.

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.