People tend to think of belts and braces (called suspenders by some Americans) as an either/or, personal choice sort of thing. Close, but not quite. Even though the vast majority of men wear belts, I doubt if a single one would describe belts as being ‘addictive.’ braces are a different story. So take warning; if you’re thinking about trying them for the first time, don’t experiment until you have enough socked away for several pairs, because you may not want to go back to belts.
When I say braces (or suspenders) are addictive, I’m not referring to the endless colors and patterns and themes they come in, although that can certainly add to their appeal. Neither am I referring to the fact that they have much more of a Sherman McCoy, ‘Master of the Universe’ look than belts will ever have.
No; braces are addictive for one main reason: giving you an all day long, hands-free, picture-perfect hang for your trousers. This of course is obvious to those of us who already wear them, but belt-wearers may not be aware (as I was not), that braces make your trousers immune to every pant-drooping activity there is:
-Thrusting your hands in and out of your pockets
-Bending over, sitting down, and getting up
-The simple act of walking
The first day I wore braces my hands keep going to my trouser waistline, a sheer reflex borne of years of having to pull my trousers up. I knew the braces would keep my pants from falling down; I just thought they’d need a little help from time to time. They don’t. The sensation of not having to adjust my trousers at all, for an entire day, was absolutely weird—albeit in a delightful way.
At the end of the day, belt versus braces still comes down to personal choice. If, however, you are going the expensive ready-made or custom suit route, it would be a shame to spend so much in pursuit of a perfect garment, only to settle for anything less than a perfect hang for your trousers. Trousers that bag up around your ankles can make a pricey suit look cheap. And if you’re wearing a vested suit, braces are really mandatory. I’d rather see an exposed patch of a man’s calf any day, when his legs are crossed, than see a belt buckle protruding from under a vest. Unless you’re consciously trying to affect a ‘Great Depression bank-robber’ look.
Just don't clip them on.
Words by Barry Pullen