||The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2010)|
Suspenders (American English, Canadian English) or braces (other English speaking countries) are fabric or leather straps worn over the shoulders to hold up trousers. Straps may be elasticated, either entirely or only at attachment ends and most straps are of woven cloth forming an X or Y shape at the back. Braces are typically attached to trousers with buttons using leather tabs at the ends or with clips. Outside the US the term suspenders or suspender belt refers to a garment used to hold up stockings, what in American English is called a garter belt.
There have been several precursors to suspenders throughout the past 300 years, but the modern type were first invented in 1822 by Albert Thurston and were once almost universally worn due to the high cut of mid-nineteenth and early twentieth century trousers, a cut that made a belt impractical. During the nineteenth century, they were sometimes called gallouses. After losing popularity during World War I, as men became accustomed to uniform belts, suspenders were still standard throughout the 1920s. Because of their image as underwear, men switched to belts during the 1930s as the waistcoats which had hidden braces became worn less. This also signaled the switch of position of the buttons from the outside of the waistband to the inside. Life magazine stated in 1938 that 60% of American men chose belts over suspenders. Though the return of fuller-cut trousers in the 1940s revived braces, they did not dominate over belts again to the same extent.
While they have been in and out of fashion over the last century (alternating with belts in general preference), there has been a brief resurgence in interest due to the styles seen in period dramas such as the 2008 re-make of Brideshead Revisited.
Current wearers include actor Martin Shaw as his TV alter-ego Judge John Deed, and Daniel Craig — particularly as James Bond, 007. Many business people, newscasters (such as Larry King in the United States) and professionals such as lawyers also wear suspenders. John Barrowman playing Captain Jack Harkness in the TV show Torchwood often wears suspenders, as does Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor in Doctor Who. The Simpsons character Lenny, one of Homer's friends, wears a blue pair over his green shirt. Steve Urkel from the 1990s family sitcom "Family Matters" wears a collection of suspenders in each episode he stars in. Louis Tomlinson from the band One Direction often wears suspenders.
Suspenders are also a typical part of skinhead, and to a lesser extent, punk fashion. In skinhead and punk fashion suspenders are typically between 3⁄4 and 1 inch (1.9 and 2.5 cm) in width. To some skinheads the color and placement (either up around the shoulders or down around the waist) of braces may have political significance.
Materials used for making suspenders have also changed over time, with newer additions such as rayon, a hard-wearing synthetic fibre, now offered as well as the standard boxcloth (a fuzzy woollen cloth). Silk, though traditional, is not long-lasting.
High quality suspenders can be considered white collar (US), or upper or upper-middle class (UK) wear and are made to be attached to trousers by buttons only. Noted manufacturers include Albert Thurston (sold re-branded by most outfitters), who supply high-profile actors, such as Daniel Craig in the role of James Bond in Casino Royale and Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street and John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness in Torchwood and Louis Tomlinson in the British-Irish boyband One Direction and Nate Ruess in the American indie pop band Fun.
In traditional or formal settings, it is considered a faux pas to wear both suspenders and a belt at the same time, though this has not always been the case among all classes in the past. Further, it was considered by some that suspenders are actually underwear and that as such, they should never be seen at all. As was usual before World War II, the waistcoat, or for coolness in summer a jumper or cardigan, covered up parts of clothing then considered improper to be seen, such as suspenders, and similarly jumpers and jackets kept the shirtsleeves hidden. Even before the War, however, men began removing jackets in public, and so this sensibility was eroded. It is perhaps only in Britain that some still consider it "gauche" to wear (for example) brightly coloured suspenders, or suspenders with no jacket. In general however, it is now considered acceptable on both sides of the Atlantic for suspenders to be visible.
The trousers for suspenders have buttons for attaching the tabs, either on the outside (traditionally) or on the inside of the waistband, which does not have belt loops. Such trousers might also have a high back in the fishtail shape, though this is not so common now; this shape has an additional adjuster strap at the back as well as the two side adjusters placed on most belt-less trousers.
- Jensen, Joan M. (1981). With these hands : women working on the land. Old Westbury, N.Y.: Feminist Press. p. 83. ISBN 9780912670904.
- "Fashion Glossary - G". The Internet Centre for Canadian Fashion and Design. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
- Flusser, Alan (2002). Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion. HarperCollins. pp. 221–225. ISBN 0-06-019144-9.
- "Nation Splits on Suspenders". Life. 1938-07-25. p. 41. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
- The fact that the Brideshead Revisited film has had influence on fashion in 2008 can be seen by its mention by manufacturers, such as Hackett. "'Brideshead Revisited': Get the look". Autumn 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-27.
- Sims, Josh (2007-12-17). "Brace yourself for suspenders". Retrieved 2008-11-21.
- Antongiavanni, Nicholas (2006). The Suit: A Machiavellian Approach to Men's Style. HarperCollins. pp. 154–5. ISBN 978-0-06-089186-2.
- Antongiavanni (2006). p. 41
- "Should I wear a belt when I wear suspenders?". men.style.com. April 2000. Retrieved 2008-11-27.