Groom & Groomsmen
Everything You Need to Know About Suspenders
We all know the key to completing any ensemble is in the accessories! And this is just as true, for brides and grooms, on your wedding day. Which is why I have collaborated with connoisseurs of all things dapper, The Gentlemanual, to bring you this series of posts on those all important finishing touches to any groom’s (or groomman’s attire) So far we’ve looked at Pocket Squares and Tie Bars and today it’s the turn of Suspenders…..
“Today, it’s pretty much a given that a well-dressed man and a good quality belt go hand-in-hand. You certainly don’t want want to be tugging up your waistband as your beautiful bride walks down the aisle. But, belts as we know and use them today are a fairly new invention in the history of fashion. Prior to WWI, belts were used almost exclusively for military uniforms as a decorative piece. The known, accepted, and loved apparatus used for holding up one’s trousers at the time was–you guessed it–a good ole pair of suspenders (also known as braces). What was once a functional piece has turned into a fashion statement worn by the most dapper of gentlemen. Don this look on your wedding day for the very best in vintage style.”
Suspenders date back as far as 18th century France, where strips of ribbon were attached to the buttonholes of trousers. Back then, suspenders were considered undergarments, and were not meant to be seen in public. In the 1820’s, British designer Albert Thurston began to manufacture versions of the modern suspenders we know today. The fashion of this time period prescribed that men wear trousers that were so high-waisted that a belt simply wouldn’t be able to do the job. Suspenders became a necessity for the sartorial gentleman.
Fast forward to the early 20th century, where a switch in favor of lower-sitting, lower-rise trousers meant that suspenders were no longer needed. These days, men’s fashion has seen a distinct revival of and fascination with 20th century culture, class, and style. Think fedoras, mustaches, speakeasies, and, yep, suspenders. We are proponents of this sartorial revivification. Suspenders are classy. Suspenders are comfortable. Suspenders are what your wedding wardrobe needs. So give your belts a break on this special day, why don’t ya?
We’ve broken down everything you need to know about this nifty accessory:
What are Suspenders, Anyway?
Suspenders are long strips of fabric worn over your shoulders with the purpose of holding up your trousers. They attach to your trousers with clips or buttons, and feature either an “X”, “Y”, or “H” shape at the rear for additional strength and support, and to prevent either strap from falling from your shoulders. Unless you’re going for a firefighter look on your wedding day, you probably won’t be wearing the “H” variety. “X” and “Y” are the most universal variations.
How Thick Should My Suspenders Be?
These days, you can find everything from super skinny to excessively wide when it comes to suspender straps. For a classic look on your wedding day, choose a pair with standard measurements such as 1.25” – 1.5”. Trendy and sartorially daring widths fall in the 0.5” – 1” range. Finally, functional, heavy duty suspenders meant for hard work (or hard-core dancing) or men with heftier builds fall on or around 2”.
Clips Or Buttons?
Some will argue that both clips and buttons alike are acceptable. However, we are big supporters of buttons, simply because they look cleaner and more refined, especially important if your wedding is more formal. Most suits should still be equipped with interior buttons meant for suspenders. However, for pants and trousers without buttons, sewing them in yourself is an easy fix (Here’s how!). Clips are good if you’re trying to achieve a hip, trendy look (think more hipster than vintage). However, clips may damage the waistband of your garments. Be warned.
How Do You Put Suspenders On?
Most men will fasten the back of the suspenders, put their trousers on, and then afterward fasten their suspenders in the front. Others will fasten every button (or clip) first before putting their trousers on. It’s your preference.
Suspenders and Suits. Yay or Nay?
Definitely, but never with clips. If you’re going to be rocking suspenders and a suit, stick to buttons, please. Again, make sure your suspenders match the formality of your event. Even if you and your groomsmen are going jacketless buttons may still be appropriate to give your look some subtle style.
What Other Rules Do I Need to Know About Suspenders?
Suspenders will look dapper with everything from the casual rustic wedding ensembles to that white tie celebration. Just be sure that the fabric of the suspenders either match or contrast the rest of your outfit. Or, if you’re wearing leather suspenders, it is a general rule that you should match these with your shoes. Also, unless your destination requires a coat or blazer, feel free to rock your suspenders sans-cover as you dance the night away. Let everyone know just how stylish you are. Finally, never wear a belt and suspenders at the same time. We get you don’t want any wardrobe malfunctions when all eyes are on you, but if you’re really that worried about your pants staying up you need a tailor, not a backup method.
“Suspenders are a great way to help you stand out on your big day. Something about them just says refined, composed, and truly gentlemanly. All you have to do is slip them over your shoulders, take a deep breath, and get ready to walk down that aisle.”
A huge thankyou to writer RJ Firchau and the lovely folks over at The Gentlemanual for again sharing their expert knowledge with us – who knew suspenders used to be undergarments?! If you loved this post, be sure to catch up on everything you need to know about tie bars and pocket squares, and you should definitely have a look at their top style tips for a dapper groom, or for more Groom & Groomsmen inspiration click here.
And be sure to check back here for more from The Gentlemanual. Next up, something for you grooms looking to make a style statement – how to rock a bold colored suit!