The suit has been an emblem of formal style for men for more than a century. While trends come and go, the basic tenets of suit styling remain remarkably consistent. One accessory that has withstood the test of time is the suspender (or "braces" as they're called in the UK). Suspenders offer function by holding up one's trousers and form by adding an extra layer of flair to an outfit.
Styling a suit with suspenders requires attention to detail, understanding classic menswear principles, and a touch of personal panache. Here's a guide to help you seamlessly integrate suspenders into your suited ensemble:
Understanding The Basics Of Suspenders
Material And Width
Suspenders come in various materials – from leather to silk to cotton. When choosing, consider the formality of the occasion. Silk suits formal events, while cotton or woven patterns are better for casual settings. The width of suspenders can also vary. Classic widths are typically around 1.25 to 1.5 inches. A thicker width is more traditional, while thinner versions are more contemporary.
Suspenders either clip onto the waistband of the trouser or attach via buttons sewn into the inside of the waistband. Buttoned suspenders are more traditional and are usually considered more elegant.
The color of your suspenders should complement your suit and shirt. Neutral colors like black, navy, and grey are versatile. However, for those looking to make a statement, patterned or brightly colored suspenders can be a bold choice.
The Suit Matters
Not every suit is designed to be worn with suspenders. Ideally, your trousers should have no belt loops if you're wearing suspenders, as wearing both a belt and suspenders is redundant and a fashion faux pas.
Your trousers should sit at your natural waist (just above your hips), not your hips. This is particularly important when wearing suspenders, as they're designed to maintain the position of trousers at the natural waist.
Shirt And Tie Coordination
Suspenders, shirt, and tie need to work in harmony. If you wear patterned suspenders, consider a solid tie or vice versa. A balance between patterns prevents the outfit from looking too chaotic.
Wear The Right Shoes
The suit, suspenders, and shoes should all be in alignment in terms of formality. A sleek pair of leather oxfords or brogues would suit a more formal look. For a casual touch, consider loafers or derby shoes.
Suspenders themselves can be a statement. Whether you choose a classic design or something more outlandish, ensure it reflects your style. Remember, confidence is key. If you feel good in your outfit, it'll show.
While style is essential, don't forget the practical function of suspenders – to hold up your trousers. Ensure they're adjusted to the right length to prevent your trousers from sagging or riding too high.
Consider the event or setting when choosing your suspenders. Opt for classic silk suspenders in black or white for a black-tie event. In a business setting, subdued patterns or solid colors work best. Feel free to experiment with brighter colors or unique patterns for casual outings.
Pairing With Outerwear
If you're going to wear a waistcoat or a cardigan over your shirt, it's traditional to keep your suspenders hidden. However, modern fashion rules have relaxed, and showing off your suspenders can be trendy.
Cultural And Historical Touches
The way suspenders have been worn and styled has evolved over decades. Each era had a unique take from the roaring '20s to the stylish '60s. Drawing inspiration from these periods can give your outfit a timeless appeal. Read our detailed blog the history of suspenders
When To Skip The Suspenders
Not every suited occasion calls for suspenders. If the trousers fit perfectly without them or the setting is extremely casual, it might be best to skip them.
Caring for Your Suspenders
As with any other fashion accessory or garment, suspenders require care to ensure longevity and maintain appearance.
Storage: Hang your suspenders to prevent them from becoming tangled or creased. Use a hanger or a special suspender holder.
Cleaning: Always check the label or manufacturer's instructions. Most high-quality suspenders should be spot-cleaned or dry-cleaned. Avoid wringing them out or using harsh chemicals.
Mastering The Drop
The "drop" of your trousers—the distance between the waistband and the crotch—can make a difference when wearing suspenders. A higher drop works well with suspenders, giving a smooth, uninterrupted line from the chest to the shoes.
Layering With Suspender Style
While traditionally, suspenders might be hidden under waistcoats or jackets, modern style often showcases them. Consider pairing suspenders with a crisp dress shirt, leaving the jacket off. It offers a sophisticated yet relaxed appearance.
Perfecting The Drape
A significant benefit of suspenders is the drape they give to trousers. Without the constriction of a belt, trousers can hang naturally from the waist, giving a more flattering silhouette. This is especially true with heavier fabrics like wool, which benefit from the gentle support suspenders provide.
Experiment With Materials And Patterns
Don't limit yourself to traditional suspender styles. Branch out with materials like tweed in the winter or lighter linen options in the summer. Bold stripes, polka dots, and even quirky patterns can be fun additions to your wardrobe.
Consider Your Body Type
Suspenders can be more than just a style statement; they can be used to flatter your body type. For taller individuals, horizontal stripes or patterns can add some breadth. Vertical patterns or solid colors can elongate the appearance for those on the shorter side.
Incorporate Other Accessories
Cufflinks, tie bars, pocket squares, and even hats can all be coordinated with suspenders to create a cohesive and polished look. However, the Key is balance. If your suspenders are bold, keep other accessories understated.
The Double Breasted Suit And Suspenders
A double-breasted suit traditionally has a full cut and a more prominent peak lapel. Adding suspenders with such a suit can offer a heightened grandeur and elegance.
The Return Of Pleats
With the resurgence of retro styles, pleated trousers are making a comeback. Suspenders and pleated pants can be a match made in heaven, as the suspenders ensure that the pleats stay sharp and prominent.
Confidence Is The Key
Regardless of how you style your suit with suspenders, wear it confidently. A well-tailored suit paired with the perfect suspenders is about more than just fashion; it reflects personality, elegance, and style.
Styling a suit with suspenders is an art that blends traditional menswear principles with personal expression. By understanding the basics, considering the occasion, and adding personal touches, you can master the art of wearing suspenders with a suit. Spenders can elevate their style quotient, whether they aim for a timeless look or a contemporary twist.