Suspenders tend to be a polarizing topic. Some men love them while others wouldn’t be caught dead in them.
While we won’t spend much time in this article convincing you of the merits of the stylish and old-school system for keeping your trousers from dropping, we challenge the haters to give them a shot. They’re comfortable, practical, and downright stylish.
Suspenders can add a sophisticated touch to an outfit. While your first thoughts might be of Larry King, other very cool men have donned some braces and pulled it off like a boss.
Daniel Craig wore a pair of Albert Thurston’s as James Bond in Skyfall. Michael Douglass absolutely killed it on screen as Gordon Gekko, famously wearing a pair of striped suspenders in Wall Street. Let’s not forget how cool Humphrey Bogart looked in a smart pair of suspenders.
Whether you’re a secret agent with a license to kill, a fast-talking NY corporate raider, or just a guy looking to level-up his wardrobe, a high-quality pair of suspenders can do a lot for your style.
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Short on time? Here are our top three picks for the best suspenders you can buy right now:
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The History of Suspenders
The suspenders that we’re familiar with today originated in England in the 1820s. It was the fashion of the time to wear very high waisted pants, and belts couldn’t do much to hold them up. Designer Albert Thurston began producing the modern suspenders we see today.
The first suspenders used an H-back design, before moving to an X-back style. Eventually, the more formal Y-back style came along, seen today in boardrooms and on wedding dancefloors.
Some Things to Consider When Shopping for the Best Suspenders
Suspenders may be new to you, and although they’re a classic item, many of today’s men aren’t familiar with them. Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping for the best suspenders for men.
A Word on Width and Fit
Authenticity is everything when it comes to developing your own style. You can stretch your boundaries, but you should choose classic, high-quality products to do it with. Many suspenders available on the market are fashion-only, and you can tell by the suspenders’ width.
Any suspenders under an inch wide aren’t holding anything up. If they were holding up any weight, a strap that thin would hurt the wearer’s shoulders by the end of the day.
It’s also important not to buy a pair of suspenders that are too wide. These suspenders are more at home clipped to the nail bags of carpenters and construction workers than a pair of dress trousers.
They’re wide so they can distribute the great weight of a toolbelt across a wider surface and improve comfort.
The best suspenders for men are around 1.5 inches wide. Still, anything between 1 and 1.75 inches will work, look great, and feel comfortable after a long day.
Also, be sure to check the fit of the suspenders you buy. Suspenders weren’t always one-size-fits-all, and as shorter guys, we know that phrase doesn’t always hold true anyway.
Most manufacturers will offer a range of heights that their suspenders will work for, so be sure to check into their sizing guide first.
Match Your Leathers and Metals
If you’re buying a pair of button-on suspenders (which we suggest), they’ll likely come with leather ends that loop over your pants buttons and a leather back patch. These pieces are the perfect opportunity to coordinate with the right pair of shoes.
If you wear a lot of brown leather shoes, look for a pair of suspenders with leather to match. If it’s a formal event and you’ll be wearing a pair of black oxfords, make sure your suspenders match.
Make sure that your metals match as well, which in this case means suspender adjusters and a watch or cufflinks. This means matching gold with gold, while silver metals close in finish can work together, regardless of material.
There are some materials common to suspenders, and they do vary in durability and formality. Common materials include nylon, polyester, cotton, silk, and wool. When wearing suspenders with a suit or tuxedo, the best material is silk.
For tough all-day work, choose a pair of suspenders made from nylon, as it’s hard to rip and easy to clean. Cotton and polyester are fine for casual or even business wear, depending on the scenario.
Best Place to Buy Suspenders
It’s entirely possible to find a pair of suspenders to hold your pants up at a department store, but they aren’t likely to add the type of sophistication you’re looking for. However, there are several online shops where you can find the best suspenders for men.
KK & Jay
KK & Jay is a Bronx, NY-based online shop founded by two friends that understood the challenges of men’s fashion. Keeping shirts tucked and pants up are their focus, and they offer tons of button-on suspenders in a wide variety of colors, patterns, and styles.
They’re a great first stop if you’re looking for casual or dress suspenders, as they have a pair for everyone.
Sharp and Dapper
When it comes to menswear accessories, it’s hard to overlook Sharp and Dapper. This London-based online shop offers men’s fashion needs like pocket squares, shirt-stays, neckties, and our beloved suspenders (known as braces on their site).
Sharp and Dapper most notably sells Albert Thurston suspenders, which are essentially the gold standard in the braces (or suspenders) industry.
Trafalgar’s focus is on quality, sophisticated leather goods, but their suspenders and braces deserve some attention. Their suspenders fit traditional styling, though they do offer some very casual designs.
Trafalgar offers many different styles and patterns, from affordable cotton suspenders to more expensive silk options.
Suspenders are well-known in industries and occupations that require hard physical labor. As a men’s workwear brand, Duluth Trading offers heavy-duty suspenders in a few different styles, but all with quality in mind.
While not necessarily the most stylish, these suspenders could hit the mark for those looking to incorporate a pair into their denim wear.
It’s hard not to mention Amazon when it comes to men’s fashion.
Amazon carries hundreds of different sets of suspenders, from some inexpensive, lesser-known brands to higher-end offerings.
Your Local Men’s Clothier
As we mentioned earlier, suspenders are a staple of many well-dressed men, and you should have no issue finding a pair of suspenders that will look great with your suits.
Also, you can ask the tailor to add buttons for your button-on suspenders. They can also remove the belt loops on your pants if you’re going for a classic, menswear-purist look.
The Best Suspenders for Men
Now that you’ve got some excellent options to shop through for the best pair of suspenders, here are our favorite options from some popular brands and shops. From classic, hard-working suspenders to suave, sophisticated dress suspenders, there’s a great choice on this list for any occasion.
Best Suspenders for Work: Duluth Trading Thin Clip Suspenders
While we aren’t necessarily fans of clip-on suspenders, the Duluth Trading Thin Clip Suspenders are an excellent choice when it comes to work. They’re 1.5 inches wide, so they aren’t the bulky, wide suspenders that you’re used to seeing on workmen, making them far more stylish.
They’ll clip securely to a pair of jeans or work pants, keeping them in place for your entire workday. They’re pretty tough, too, made from nylon with a leather backpatch to reinforce the straps.
While they aren’t the most fashion-forward choice, the Duluth Trading Thing Clip Suspenders are tough and rugged—just what you need from a pair of work suspenders.
Best Suspenders for Jeans: Dockers Men’s Solid Suspender
Pairing jeans and suspenders is a leap, but for guys that feel so compelled, we (and these suspenders) will support you. These 100 percent polyester suspenders from Dockers are about as casual as they come, with clip-on attachment and a 1.5-inch width.
The bright metallic clips and length adjusters might make a slight statement, but they’ll work nicely with a stainless steel watch for a relaxed look. The X-style clips in the rear of the suspenders give this set a hard-working appearance.
Best Suspenders for Suits: KK and Jay Navy Silk Suspenders
When it comes to matching a pair of suspenders with a suit, you simply can’t go wrong with a subdued pair of silk suspenders.
These button-on suspenders from KK and Jay use brown leather joiner and button ends, silk tubed ribbon, and stainless steel hardware to create an extremely classy pair of suspenders.
The Y-back design is a timeless classic, and the lower back strap is elastic for comfort. The proportions are just right for formal or business wear, at 1.5 inches wide.
Navy blue is the most flexible color to go with when it comes to suit suspenders. However, KK and Jay also offers this set in black silk with black leather—a better match for formal, black suits.
Best Button Suspenders: Albert Thurston Moire Braces from Sharp and Dapper
Albert Thurston is one of the top names when it comes to suspenders. These black moire suspenders are a prime example of the quality they produce. The moire fabric gives the straps a woodgrain look that really stands out against a classic white dress shirt.
The black leather ends with braided button loops look great against a black tuxedo, while the nickel-plated adjusters provide just a bit of flash. They measure just over 1.5 inches wide, and the Y-back is perfect for any occasion you’d wear these dressy suspenders to.
Best Suspenders for the Office: KK and Jay Washington Maroon Suspenders
Suppose you’re looking for a pair of suspenders that makes a bold statement at the office without being offensive. In that case, KK and Jay’s Washington Suspenders in maroon are the choice for you.
These 1.5-inch silk finished, patterned elastic suspenders will keep you comfortable all day while also keeping your trousers in place. The diamond pattern is classic but still fun, and the medium brown leather ends are easy to match with a pair of brown oxfords or dress boots.
Extra points for matching the gold hardware with the right watch.
Best Leather Suspenders: Col. Littleton No. 1 Suspenders
Finding a great pair of leather suspenders can be really challenging. Most are too thin to be taken seriously as anything more than a useless statement. The No. 1 suspenders from Col. Littleton are a legitimate pair of button-on leather suspenders.
Although they’re pretty expensive, Col. Littleton cuts these from full-grain bridle leather, so they’re tough and built to last. They’re comfortable, though, thanks to the elastic back strap. All of the straps are 1.5 inches wide, and the brass fixtures stand out with a rugged, western flair.
Suspenders are a classic menswear item, and if you wear a pair correctly, they can really set an outfit off nicely. While they do sometimes get a bad rap, they’re making a bit of a comeback. But, we also recognize that it does take a bit of confidence to stroll out into the world in a pair for the first time.
Whichever style and pair of suspenders that you choose, make sure that you love them. The right pair of suspenders can look amazing paired with a clean white dress shirt and the right shoes, but to make the statement you’re looking for, you have to wear them with confidence.
Any of the suspenders on our list will do a great job of keeping your pants up while also keeping your style looking classic and cool.