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How to Wear Suspenders - The Ultimate Guide

How to Wear Suspenders - Groom and Groomsmen Wearing Black Suspenders & Black Bow Tie

Sophistication, 1900s style, has come back into men's fashion in the 2010s and it continues into the current decade. Formal wear has once again become classy and sophisticated with the reintroduction of bowties, fedoras, mustaches, and, most recently, suspenders.

Suspenders used to have a utilitarian use. Their purpose, of course, was to hold a gentleman's pants up. They are no more than long, thin strips of fabric that swing over the shoulders and clip or button to the tops of the trousers. That said, with the advent of belts, suspenders were no longer needed. So, after World War II, when belts became more than a decoration for military uniforms, suspenders fell out of popularity. Before that, they were the trusted accessory for sparing a man the embarrassment of losing his drawers!

However, the dapper gent knows that the iconic additions to any outfit not only can act as an alternative to the now traditional belt, they are also quite stylish.


When to Wear Suspenders

Suspenders are so versatile that they can be worn with a wide range of ensembles as well as for a host of occasions. They are debonair enough for any black-tie event, but still rustic enough for an informal gathering outdoors. Just be sure that the colors and patterns either match or contrast with the rest of the outfit.

That said, when it comes to suspenders when to wear them is key. Here are just a few examples of where they’re appropriate:

a. Weddings

Wedding Suspenders - Wedding Party Wearing Navy Bow Tie & Navy Suspenders

Weddings are probably one of the most likely events where you will see men donning suspenders. Using suspenders groomsmen can opt for a more casual look than three-piece suits or white or black tuxedos, while still adhering to the unofficial formal dress code.

They also allow the groom, his groomsmen, and ring bearer to stand out compared to others. With suspenders groom and his half of the wedding party are unique. Most dress nearly uniformly, predictably, and it gets boring. After all, why should the ladies have all the fun selecting their dresses? With suspenders groomsmen get to reflect their own style, too!

Also, these accessories on the groom are so strapping and stylish. Rocking suspenders groom will come across as strong, composed, and calm, ready to take the plunge without any reservations.

b. Proms and Homecoming Dances

Young men need to remember that when it comes to formal garments like tuxes, the pants should rest below their belly buttons. This is unlike modern denim cuts that allow jeans to hang from their hips. Since many consider it informal or crass to use a belt, suspenders are a great option for ensuring dress pants stay secured in place.

Of course, the accessories definitely refine the appearance of high school boys, making them appear much more mature and worldly. Even with a dress jacket, suspenders project an air of elegance.

c. Quinceanera and Sweet 16

In the culture of many Latin countries is what is referred to as a quinceanera, or a coming-out debutante ball for a girl on her fifteenth birthday. These young ladies are accompanied by young men referred to as chambelanes, or the escorts that make up her court.

Chambelanes must be dressed in formal attire, which usually includes a suit and tie or a tuxedo. However, because of their young age and the fact that they must dance with the guest of honor, they usually remove their jackets. This is appropriate as long as their shirts are tucked in and they wear a dressy accessory, like suspenders to keep up the fancy façade. Coordinate them with a bow tie and the chambelanes are sure to look sharp!

d. Kentucky Derby Parties

Bright and pastel shades are more than just a tradition when men get all spiffed up for the annual event. These colors are reminiscent of being in the middle of springtime and full of life.

Besides the conventional hues, there is also an unofficial dress code, and that is a seeming homage to the popular styles of the 1920s and 30s. With so many bowties and fedoras on the scene, is there really a better place to sport suspenders?

Pair them with a button down shirt either with or without a suit jacket. This is a classic throwback look that will be all the rage that first Saturday of May.

e. Children’s Easter Outfits

Easter Outfit Suspenders

What can be more adorable, and, at the same time, proper, than a bowtie and suspenders kids set? While boys from tots to ten year olds are especially rough on clothing, it is an irresistible impulse to dress your boy to the nines for Easter mass and dinner with the extended family!

You don’t even have to buy a full set for babies and toddlers. Simply purchase a bowtie and suspenders set and jazz up an outfit they already have.

f. Everyday Fashion

Man Wearing Black Suspenders

Suspenders can make any run-of-the-mill shirt and pants look fashion-forward and on point for this new decade. Match them with chinos and a business casual shirt.

Men will even look extra handsome rocking suspenders with shorts or denim, as long as the suspenders match the outfit appropriately.

g. Family Photos

Family Wearing Suspenders

Do you want a heartwarming family photo that drives home the point that you and yours are classy bunch? Try coordinating outfits where each male dons a dignified suspenders and bowtie set. Don’t forget matching suspenders kids will look just adorable in.

You will be proud to share these pictures on social media, and they may even become your Christmas card!

h. Don’t Forget the Ladies

Woman Wearing Suspenders

Suspenders have been known to be traditionally masculine, but they took American women's fashion by storm in the 1980s, and are super-hot as a woman’s accessory in Europe right now.

They look super-cute with skirts and capris, and are a go-to for groomswomen. But, with suspenders how to wear them is important. For women, they are more about glamour than function.

Types of Suspenders

There are many different classifications of suspenders. Here are some of categories you should pay attention to:

a. Width

Suspenders come in varying widths that are usually between half an inch to two inches wide. Because the trouser-holders do differ so much, many men have difficulty picking which is best.

One-inch is usually the most commonly requested width, so that is what we have in stock here at Armoniia. Two-inch suspenders are usually reserved for larger men or for industrial use and are more functional than stylish. The half inch type is the opposite, and they best fit women and children, neither of whom have broad shoulders.

b. Shapes

Of course, all suspenders appear exactly the same in the front, but they form distinct shapes in the back. These include X-backs, Y-backs, and H-backs.

So, where do suspenders attach? These names really explain this in exact detail. Either the suspenders cross each other to form an X, attaching on both sides of the back of the pants, or they both meet in the mid-back, but join together as one, forming a Y shape, attaching in the middle of the pants. Or, they do not cross at all, yet connect with one horizontal strip, appearing as an H formation, again attaching on both sides.

Which should a man pick? Well, it depends on the occasion. Y-backs are proper for business, formal wear, and even semi-formal use. That is why dress pants have a button sewn in the back.

While the Y-back is the original shape, designers realized that two connections were stronger than one and created the X-back. This shape is sturdier and more dependable, which is why it is associated with professional blue collar wear. This eventually transitioned to being worn with casual or rugged ensembles. Because the buttons sewn on the backs do not work with the X shape, most suspenders of this type are clip-ons.

The H-backs, which are the least common, are typically only sported by firemen. They are not usually worn by anyone looking to make a fashion statement.

c. Materials

The suspender material chosen is really dependent on where they are intended to be worn. For example, are you going to work, a wedding, or out to eat? This is the crucial difference between chosing delicate silks or tough leather.

While suspenders come in a plethora of fabrics, the most important distinction to be made is the difference between elastic materials and all other varieties.

Elastic suspenders are adjustable to any body type or composition as well as height. They usually are the most affordable and they tend to come in fashionable prints, patterns, and colors. Because they are bold, they can be casual and worn with jeans or khakis, though the plain, neutral colors work well with a business motif.

Non-elastic suspenders are either considered rugged, like leather, or fancy, like silk. Do understand, however, that each of types also contain elastic fabric, below the rear cross patch, or they would seriously lack flexibility.

Leather gives off a hint of being a rebel. It tends to be a little less adjustable, but length adjusters help with that.

Besides wearing leather suspenders to channel your inner cowboy, the dashing accessories are also donned along with business suits, creating a clever, classy look. Just be sure to coordinate your belt replacement with a pair of shiny leather shoes.

More sophisticated fabrics, such as jacquard or silk are even less adjustable, but again, length adjusters take care of the issue. Worn with formal wear, they project an image that is beyond sophisticated.

Out-of-the-ordinary materials, such as cotton, Oxford, non-stretch polypropylene, linen, and Grosgrain, match the similar fabrics found in casual wear, and they shouldn’t be paired with other styles of clothing.

d. Clip-on Suspenders vs. Button Suspenders

Man Wearing Suspenders

While both closures have been popular throughout the years, we here at Armoniia have noticed a huge upswing in the number of customers that prefer clip-on suspenders. They are modern, easy to work with, and not as damaging to dress pants as they first appear. That’s because our clip-on suspenders come with a plastic safeguard to protect your waistband.

The best part of clip-on suspenders is that they are simple to get on, wear all day, and remove. Just think of how much extra work it takes to sew buttons on all the pants of the men in a party of ten or more.

Some people believe it comes down to simplicity versus tradition. However, clip-on suspenders are just as acceptable for both business and formal wear as button-ons.

Button-on suspenders are quite elegant and look great for any event, but one must not forget the tedium of adding buttons to each pair of pants in the closet. They are exquisite to look at, but they are no more debonair than clip-ons, which are attached with much more ease.

e. Sizing and Measurements

Many stores and brands actually offer only one child-sized and one adult-sized set of suspenders each, leaving the customer with no other options. But, when it comes to suspenders men know there certainly is no one size fits all. That is why Armoniia is proud to offer five different sizes ranging from the smallest baby to the largest adult. That means longer suspenders men in your wedding party can feel comfortable in, even if they’re tall, will match the ring bearer with no problems.

How to Wear Suspenders

There are so many ways to rock suspenders. Of course, how you wear them depends on the look you are going for. Just be sure that the choice of suspenders matches the formality of the occasion (or lack of it).

a. For a suave, everyday outfit, match suspenders exactly to the pants for an outfit that simply flows.

b. Try either clip-on or button-on suspenders with a jacket and tie for extra extravagance. You could even relax, or cool off, by removing your jacket and still appear boardroom ready.

c. Try suspenders with a bowtie and fedora to dress up a pair of skinny or slim jeans and a striped button-down shirt.

d. Of course, with suspenders wedding days are a must! Of course, wedding suspenders are a staple nowdays!

One thing to remember is that it is redundant to wear suspenders with a belt, so don’t ever make that mistake. After all, they serve the same function. Even if your suspenders are for show only, it is still a fashion faux pas to wear them side-by-side.

How to Put on and Adjust Suspenders

How to Put On Suspenders

There are two different ways to put suspenders on, and both are quite simple. You could clip or button them to the back of the pants, put the pants on, and then fasten them in front. The alternative is to fasten all buttons or attach all clips and put them on. It just depends on your preference and whichever you find more convenient.

With suspenders how to adjust them can be an easy task, especially if the material is elastic. Just remember to buy a size that is big enough, fully extended, tip to tip, since suspenders can only be adjusted to smaller sizes.

For suspenders that are non-elastic, an adjuster will be required. These are small devices that make it possible to shorten the dashing accessories.

There three different types of adjusters. There is the slide adjuster, which is a loop through which fabric is pulled through. The most common are metal, though there is a plastic variety that is mostly for going through airport security without any hassle.

Then, there is the clamp adjuster, which is most common. It flips open and slides up the suspenders, allowing you to shorten them. When they are the perfect length, simply press the adjuster down to close it.

Finally, leather suspenders usually have buckle adjusters. They operate in the same manner as a belt buckle, ironically.

Suspenders vs. Braces

Suspenders vs Braces - Man and Woman Waiting for a Train

What is the difference between these two terms? Well, it all depends on who you ask.

Usually, if you refer to suspenders as “braces,” you are either well-versed in men’s fashion, or simply a British gent. So, some say it is just a British term while “suspenders” mean the same thing in American English.

On the other hand, others refer to button-on suspenders as “braces,” while the term “suspenders” is defined as trouser holders that use clips. This meaning is becoming antiquated, however.

The History of Suspenders

The History of Suspenders - Woman Wearing Suspenders

Suspenders came to fruition in France during the 1700s. Men attached pieces of ribbon to their trousers' buttonholes in order to keep the pants from slipping off. They were well-hidden because they were thought of as undergarments.

Around 1820, Albert Thurston, a British designer, manufactured what is considered to be the first modern set of suspenders. Men's trousers at that point in time were very high-waisted, and belts were not yet considered more than a decoration. Suspenders were a necessity.

By the early 1900s, suspenders began to fade in prominence as the belt became more functional and took center stage. Only recently have suspenders made a comeback due to the rise in sartorial styles seen in the last decade.

In conclusion, suspenders are comfortable, classy, and back on trend. When it comes to suspenders wedding days or ordinary Wednesdays are just as appropriate. So, forget your belt and break out of the box, fashion-wise. Throw on some suspenders and show the world just how stylish you can be.