Looking for a pair of suspenders to add to your wardrobe? This guide will tell you everything you need to know.
Okay, let’s start by figuring out why and when you’d want to wear suspenders.
If you prefer reading, read on!
Suspenders vs. Belts
Suspenders have been around since the early 1800s. Like any other fashion accessory, they’re subject to trends, and I don’t think they’re going to replace belts anytime soon.
But if you think about it, suspenders make a lot of sense. I’m no physicist, but if the goal is to keep your pants up, and gravity is pulling them down, suspenders are an extremely logical solution (compared to belts).
This is especially true if you’ve ever worn pants that are a little loose around the waist. Extra material bunches up under your belt, which isn’t comfortable, and your pants droop throughout the day.
Of course, just because suspenders are a more logical solution than belts doesn’t mean you’re going to wear them all the time.
In fact, I wear belts more often than suspenders, just because I don’t “dress up” very often.
But if I’m dressing up (like if I’m wearing a suit), I try to avoid belts. I much prefer the comfort and aesthetic of side adjusters or suspenders.
Going beltless with suits is especially great for shorter men because it eliminates a horizontal line that cuts you in half visually. This elongates your legs and makes you look a little taller.
So I make sure all of my trousers come with side adjusters and/or suspender buttons.
If you own trousers that have belt loops and don’t have suspender buttons, you can add buttons and remove the loops yourself or at the tailor for just a few dollars.
Some suspenders even come with an extra set of buttons that you (or your tailor) can sew into your pants.
Choosing the Right Suspenders
Okay, we know that suspenders are a great way to keep your pants up, especially for formal outfits. Let’s talk about how to wear them.
There are really only two things to consider: the size of your suspenders and the color (or style).
Suspenders come in different lengths and widths. Most suspenders are around 46″ long, and they’re pretty much always adjustable.
So most guys don’t need to worry about length.
The other component of suspenders sizing is the width. The standard width of 1 3/8 inches is just fine for most body types.
If you’re a bigger guy or want a more conservative look, you can definitely rock wider suspenders (up two inches wide).
Similarly, if you’re a super thin guy or want a more fashion forward look, you can wear thinner suspenders, but I wouldn’t go any thinner than one inch, because that’s getting into overly trendy territory (plus you sacrifice comfort and functionality).
But for most guys, the standard length and width is just fine.
Suspenders Colors, Patterns and Fabrics
In fact, the color or pattern of your suspenders is even less important than that of your pocket square because they’re not visible under your jacket.
Of course, your jacket will sometimes come off, so let’s talk a little bit about choosing colors and patterns for your suspenders.
Solid Colors Always Work
Just like with ties, darker colors and solid colors are more formal than lighter colors and patterns.
A safe bet is to go with solid color suspenders that are darker than your shirt. So if you’re wearing a dark blue suit and light blue shirt, navy blue suspenders are a great choice.
In fact, a pair of solid navy suspenders is an extremely versatile choice for almost any wardrobe.
You get bonus points if your suspenders work well with the rest of your outfit by picking up or complimenting a secondary color.
For example, the gold hardware on my suspenders compliment the gold details in my tie and watch.
Now, there is one part of your suspenders that should match the rest of your outfit: the leather.
Assuming you aren’t wearing clip-on suspenders (which is generally frowned upon by the more discerning gentleman), you should pay attention to the ends of your braces.
Quick side note about clip-ons: I personally wouldn’t wear them because I think button suspenders are much more elegant and comfortable, and it’s so easy to sew in the buttons. But hey, that’s just my opinion, and you should do what you want!
Just like with belts, you want to try to match your leathers. So if the ends of your suspenders are brown leather, your shoes should also be brown leather.
Some guys draw a “hard line” in the sand about this so called “rule”, but I say just try your best to avoid clashing.
It’s not the end of the world if your shoes don’t match your suspender ends perfectly.
Questions About Suspenders
Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about men’s suspenders:
What is the purpose of wearing suspenders?
Suspenders hold your pants up; they serve the same purpose as a belt.
What are the rules of suspenders?
Make sure they’re the right length for your body. Make sure the color either matches or compliments the rest of your outfit. Make sure the leather trim matches your shoes.
Why are suspenders called suspenders?
Suspenders are called suspenders because they “suspend” your pants, meaning they stop them from falling down.
Do suspenders improve posture?
Since poor posture can lead to suspenders becoming loose and falling off your shoulders, suspenders can improve your posture (or serve as a reminder to pay attention to your posture).
Is it cool to wear suspenders?
Yes, suspenders are cool! But they’re not good for every type of outfit or situation. Follow the guidelines in this article, and you’ll look great wearing suspenders.
Do suspenders work better than a belt?
It’s really a matter of preference. Logically, suspenders make a lot of sense, and many people find them more comfortable than belts.
Suspenders work better than belts on men with larger bellies.
Are suspenders formal?
In general, yes, suspenders are formal. You can buy more casual suspenders, like leather suspenders, and wear them with casual or smart casual outfits.
But suspenders are most often worn with dressier outfits.
For me, suspenders are kind of like shirttail garters: I’m not going to wear them everyday, but every now and then, I’m extremely glad that I have a couple of pairs on hand.
Of course, I know some guys who wear them all the time and absolutely love them. Either way, it’s probably a good idea to have a pair in your arsenal.
Questions? Comments? Leave them below!