What are suspenders? Are they better than belts? Are they a good choice for shorter guys? What kind of suspenders should you buy?
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.
For me it comes down to dress code. If I'm wearing a casual outfit, such as jeans and a t-shirt, I wear a belt because suspenders would look a little weird.
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.
But if you are concerned about suspenders being too short, you should know that KK&Jay will make custom length suspenders by request.
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.
Colors, Patterns and Fabrics
Just like pocket squares, suspenders don't need to exactly match your shirt, suit or tie.
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.
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.
Would YOU wear them?
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.
Share your thoughts about suspenders in the comments below!