Strapping Up: The History of Suspenders

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Gordon_GekkoSuspenders (known in the UK as braces) can be traced back more than 300 years, appearing at court in France in the form of ribbons attached to the buttonholes of pants. Modern suspenders hit the market when Albert Thurston opened a shop in Haymarket, London in 1982 selling ‘braces’ along with other men’s clothing accessories. In the US, suspenders took off around mid-century.

Little known fact: Mark Twain, the grandfather of American fiction, once took out a patent on ‘adjustable and detachable straps for garments’ aka suspenders.

Today, suspenders fall in and out of fashion. Once deemed part of a man’s undergarments, suspenders can now be worn over men’s dress shirts and will even be seen without coat and tie.

Suspenders are typically made of flexible material and can be clipped or buttoned onto the waistband of trousers. The clip-on type are considered more informal and buttoned suspenders are preferred for black tie, formal dress.

Workaday suspenders are a favorite sartorial accoutrement for lawyers, day traders and science geeks. Michael Douglas, playing Gordon Gekko in Wall Street, brought suspenders back into the boardroom and with revival of Mad Men-esque early-to-mid 19th century fashion, suspenders are mainstream once again.

Your suspenders should be chosen to complement, not overwhelm your outfit. Wider, buttoned suspenders read power broker. Skinny, clip-ons paired with jeans add a punk rock vibe. Pair suspenders with our brown glen plaid blazer and blue jeans for a neo preppy fall weekend look.