Suspenders offer both aesthetic and functional benefits. Also known as "braces" in the UK, they keep the wearer's pants up, preventing them from falling down. While a belt also serves this same basic function, suspenders differ in the sense that they provide additional style to the wearer's outfit. When wearing suspenders with a suit, for instance, the suspenders help by adding color and visual style -- something that's not easily achieved through the use of a belt alone.
But let's face it, not every guy is familiar with suspenders or how to wear them. Even if you've seen a pair of suspenders before, you might not know how to wear them. The good news is that suspenders are relatively easy to wear, especially when they are worn in conjunction with a suit. However, there are still a few things you should know to maximize your visual style when wearing a suit with suspenders. So, let's take a closer look at some of the essential fashion rules to follow when wearing suspenders with a suit.
Consider the Material
One of the first things to consider when shopping for suspenders is the material. Just like suits are made in a variety of different materials, so are suspenders. Traditionally, most suspenders were made of woolen boxcloth, which offers a delicate combination of comfort and style. Even today, many suspenders are still made with this very material, and many men prefer it for these reasons. However, other materials from which to choose include rayon, polyester and various synthetic blends.
Assuming you are shopping for suspenders in person, it's recommended that you feel them to gauge the comfort and durability of the respective material. If it doesn't have enough elasticity, it may fail to provide adequate support. On the other hand, if it's too rough and rugged, it may cause discomfort when worn for a long period of time. Choose suspenders made with a durable yet soft and comfortable material.
Belt OR Suspenders... Not Both
It's an unwritten rule that you should never wear suspenders and a belt together in the same outfit. Whether it's a suit or casual outfit, you should choose one or the other, not both. This is because suspenders serve the same purpose as a belt, and visa-versa. Both accessories are designed to keep your pants up, preventing them from falling down. While many men are guilty of wearing both suspenders and a belt, it's a fashion faux pas that's easily avoided.
So, which one should you wear? It really depends on your personal style and preference. Some men prefer the simple look of a belt, while others prefer the more flashy style of suspenders. Either way, you should only choose one of these accessories, saving the other for a later date.
Check the Rise
When wearing suspenders, you should pay close attention to how high (or low) your trousers sit on your waist. Most fashion experts recommend wearing suspenders with mid-to-long rise trousers, which is a common rise among most Western-style trousers. In the UK, however, it's not uncommon for men's trousers to feature an 8 to 9-inch rise, which looks somewhat awkward with suspenders. To prevent this from happening, make sure your trousers sit directly on your waist, or somewhere close. Your trousers shouldn't sit incredibly high or low on your waist; otherwise, your suspenders won't look right and you may have trouble fastening them.
Cover Your Suspenders
Contrary to what some people may believe, suspenders should typically be concealed by some type of outwear. This means, in other words, that suspenders are a type of underwear. They aren't necessarily boxers or briefs, but they are still considered underwear in the sense that they should be worn under some other type of clothing, such as a suit jacket, sports coat or blazer.
Does this mean you should never expose your suspenders so that other people can see them? Not necessarily. Rather, you should seek to conceal your suspenders with some form of outerwear. When you take off your jacket, coat or blazer, your suspenders will be visible -- and that's okay.
Say 'No' to Clip-On Suspenders
Just like clip-on neckties are a poor choice of fashion, so are clip-on suspenders. They are cheap, poorly made, and look downright awkward when worn. The best way to secure your suspenders is with a button. A pair of high-quality suspenders should feature loops through which the buttons inside your trouser's waistband loop. Simply loop the buttons of your suspenders through your trouser's buttons (found inside the waistband), at which point the suspenders should be secure.
Check the Fit Before Leaving the House
Of course, it's a good idea to check the fit of your suspenders before leaving the house. Remember, the fundamental purpose of suspenders is to keep your trousers from falling down. Therefore, it's not a bad idea to stand up and walk around, checking to make sure the suspenders perform this task as intended. If your trousers begin to fall, you'll need to either choose a different pair of suspenders (or a belt), or adjust your existing suspenders for a tighter fit.
What About the Color
Although suspenders are technically considered underwear, some people may still see them. If you take your jacket off, for instance, your suspenders will naturally be visible for the world to see. This is why it's recommended that you choose a color that matches your outfit. You shouldn't wear suspenders in the same color as your shirt, but it's perfectly fine to match them with your trousers. If your trousers are black, you can also wear black suspenders to create a clean and concise appearance.
Hopefully, this will give you a better understanding of suspenders and how to wear them.