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.


  1. Hi there! Thank you for the lovely comment on my post! I do indeed wear my suspenders with pants as well as skirts and shorts.
    Your blog is amazing, a haven of information.

    1. Thanks Sarah! Your blog on vintage-wear and food is great - a perfect pair. Its great to see vintage-wear coming back in style today. This blog is my contribution to provide readers with knowledge about wearing a quintessential piece of vintage-wear: braces. I hope to inspire more people to wear them.
      I look forward to reading your future postings incorporating braces!

    2. Hi sarah I live in adelaide and vintage fashion is really moving forward very fast here. I love vintage fashion but have a soft spot for outfits with braces alongside my other love being jumpsuits. Are you seeing alot more braces being worn amongst society where you are. Everyday I see a large amount of people wearing them and shops are finding it hard to maintain stock.

  2. What about a boy who doesn`t want to wear suspenders?

    1. @Anonymous: that's a fair question. I would respond by asking WHY he doesn't want to wear them? Is it because they are uncomfortable on the shoulders? Is he teased by his peers? Do the straps get caught in the rowdy activities of life? Do people tug and pull at them throughout the day? Each of these complains can be answered with an appropriate response.

      I wouldn't force a boy to wear suspenders, but I would give him plenty of opportunities to wear them. You may also consider wearing them yourself to show that its socially acceptable. Braces and suspenders are a signature piece of a persons outfit. As a boy who is in the process of discovering their place in the world, it will be difficult to avoid the pressure to conform to the masses. I would let them discover the pleasure of wearing suspenders for themselves - who knows, you may have the next Larry King!

  3. Don´t you think is more better to make the boys wears suspenders and that's all?

  4. I don’t force my son’s to wear suspenders now that they are old enough to choose for themselves. My opinion as long as their pants aren’t falling down then they can choose whichever they like. The older son (11) wears them occasionally, mostly as a fashion statement; lately they are just hanging down and worn with a belt. The younger son (7) wears them more often and a bit more traditionally because they work much better than a belt when he wears his brother’s hand-me-down pants that are a little big on him. I don’t think he minds them, because he’s worn them with jeans and pants his mother bought specifically for him.

    I didn’t think about suspenders as a child. I wore the clip on type, or overalls. My father and my grandfather wore overalls so I didn’t really know any better and it never occurred to me to question it. Since I didn’t object my parents just assumed I was OK with it. I never got comments from the kids at school because I’d always worn suspenders or overalls. Sometime in High School the urge to be cool hit and I browbeat my mother into buying me a belt. I wore it a few times. It wasn’t as cool as I’d thought and I got a ton of flack from my friends. The final straw was when my girl friend told me she thought suspenders were cute and much more daring.

    As much as kids hate to admit it, they emulate their parents. I suspect because I’ve worn suspenders since my son’s can remember, I think they are more comfortable wearing them from a peer pressure point of view than they might otherwise have been.

    1. Do you know or knew parents that force/forced their boys to wear suspenders? What was the age of the boys and how they reacted?

    2. @the_guy_in_suspenders: I agree with you that children mirror their parents, in all aspects of life, including dress. It's sad that peer pressure creeps in and changes kids attitude towards wearing suspenders and braces. They are so much more comfortable and do a better job of keeping pants up for boys and girls.

      @Anonymous: I don't know any parents that forced their boys to wear suspenders. I would suspect it would have been when the boys started wearing pants. At their young age, the boys hips are not fully developed so a belt simply doesn't do the job. Suspenders are essential for all little kids as they grow. Hand-me-downs especially require suspenders.

    3. The Kid With The Red Suspenders

      Hamilton was an only child who wore suspenders because his mother made him. When he became tired of the teasing from Rob, the class bully, he decided to skip school and go to the zoo with Jerry and Rob to prove he could be his own man.

    4. As a child I was forced to wear suspenders with my Sunday best church outfit which was a shorts suit.The shorts were worn with suspenders long grey socks and black school sandals.By the time I was about 13-14 I was able to wear long trousers,again worn with suspenders.I didn't particularly like them,but they were certainly necessary.

    5. I hated wearing them as an early teenager.No one else did,and while everyone else was in long trousers,due to my small stature I was always in shorts.Now well and truly in mature age,I now appreciate their comfort and style.Everyone,both men and women alike should wear braces.

  5. I remember my Braces from I was a kid, Brown and Orange striped...very 70's ;) Loving how they are popular again now, it's quite the trend. Bec

    1. until what age you wore them bec?

    2. Great to see these posts still coming. As a youngster I always wore braces, always liked the feel and comfort and still do. Sadly they are not fashionable but .I still wear them. If only more people who secretly liked them actually 'came out' and wore them openly!

  6. When I was at school in the 60's I wore braces, but because I was in the minority I hated them. However, when I finally got a belt, it just didn't do the job it was supposed to, namely keeping my pants up. I reverted to my braces, and have worn them ever since, through University, work, and now retirement. Father (and Grandfather) knew best!

  7. I made my two daughters wool skirts, and am experimenting with braces to help hold them up. Biggest problem so far has been that they tend to easily slip off their shoulders. I'm doing non-elastic button on braces and started by not giving them a junction in the back. But I've found that sewing the X together in back really helps with the falling off issue. The kids love the braces, even when they have to keep hiking them back up onto their shoulders!

    1. @Holly, thanks for posting. Kids love to wear braces, including with skirts!
      To help the straps stay on the shoulders, here's some small adjustments that can make a big difference:
      - cross the straps in the back for X-back braces, this really helps keep the straps on;
      - add an elastic portion in the straps so that they adjust to the child's movements;
      - sew the back junction higher towards the shoulders

  8. I am very happy to discover your post as it will become on top in my collection of favorite blogs to visit. clothes


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