They're affordable, easy-to-wear and a fun addition to your wardrobe. Whether you want to look sharp at an upcoming wedding, stand out at a formal event, add some flair to your work attire or spice up your casual clothing, suspenders provide you with a colorful and versatile solution for almost any occasion life chooses to send your way.
But confusion still reigns, notably: Which types of suspenders are appropriate for which occasions? Which colors go with which? Is there a particular width that is correct? Should I choose the clip-on kind or button-on? Can I wear a belt with my suspenders? How do I wear colored suspenders without looking like a clown?
This guide will answer all those questions. Plus some you perhaps didn't know you had.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT TYPE OF SUSPENDERS
Suspenders come in two basic types:
1) the type that attach to your trousers (or shorts) with clips
2) the kind you button onto your trousers
Clip-on can be attached to almost any trouser or pant, so they are the more versatile of the two. Plus, they are considered a tad more casual and look especially snazzy with city-shorts, funky jeans and fashion-forward attire. To attach them to whatever you're wearing on your bottom half, start in the back by clipping them in the middle of the waistband. Then pull them over your shoulders to the front to attach the remaining clips to the front-waistband.
Suspenders that button on are considered a tad more formal than clip-on. They also require trousers or jeans that have six buttons hidden along the inside of the waistband for the suspender's loops to button onto. If your pants don't come with suspender buttons, you can always add them, either yourself if you're handy, or have your tailor take care of it. They should be placed so that on the backside of the waistband, they are located about 1" either side of the center-back seam - meaning they're 2" apart - and 1" or so below the top of the waistband. In front, hide them inside the waistband about 1" down from the top and 2" apart. When you have them on, your suspenders should fall in a straight line down from your shoulder to your waist. To put button-on suspenders on your trousers, start in the back. Once you've buttoned them on, put your trousers on, pull the suspenders over your shoulders and button them in place in the front.
For such a relatively slim piece of fabric, suspenders sure encourage some strong opinions, in particular issues to do with the “right” width. While subtle changes can dramatically impact your entire look, the easiest rule-of -thumb to remember that suspender style happens on a scale: the skinnier the suspender, the more casual the look, while at the wider end of the spectrum, they become classic and even formal.
Y-BACK VS. X-BACK
When suspenders cross in back like the letter "X", they are known as X-back. If, instead, they join around the mid-back and become a single strap, like a "Y", then they are called Y-back. Of the two, Y-back are considered the more up-to-date and on-trend. While X-back do have two straps that attach to the back-waistband - compared to a Y-back's single strap - unless you face unusual issues with keeping your pants up or have severely sloping shoulders, the Y-back is the top choice of suspender aficionados.
One of the truly cool things about suspenders is how easy it is to customize the fit to your particular proportions. If the suspenders are leather, the front strap can be loosened or tightened just like a belt: via a buckle and holes. All other suspenders have a metal clip on the front straps that you simply slide up and down until you hit the exact right length for your frame.
FIVE DIFFERENT WAYS TO WEAR SUSPENDERS
1: SUSPENDERS FOR BUSINESS
Wearing suspenders to work can be as formal as Michael Douglas’s Gordon Gekko Master of the Financial Universe look in the movie Wall Street, Or oozing more mid-century modern panache a la Don Draper . If you want to wear a suspender with work attire, but are not sure how to proceed, start with a pair in a more classic hue (navy, black, taupe) that coordinates with the color of your shoes
2: FOR WEDDINGS & FORMAL EVENTS
Suspenders have long been a staple of a groom’s wedding day attire, which has been undergoing a welcome change, from less “stuffy” to more playful and personal. And, often, the only item a groom will purchase new to take his regular go-to suit from go-to to walk-down - as in: the aisle. For more wedding suspender tips for grooms, be sure you *go* . And what’s good for the groom is good for the groomsmen! Don’t miss our top tips for outfitting your side of the wedding party in high suspender style .
3: ON THE TOWN
Most any self-respecting list of the world’s “most stylish men” includes Cary Grant. Especially his iconic gray-suit look in the Hitchcock classic North by Northwest . Like any style icon, Grant found the “uniform” that best suited his frame and stuck with it, adding on-trend flair with accessories. Like suspenders. As a rule of thumb, non-work suspenders tend to be a bit skinnier, but if you’re rocking head-to-toe denim, a wider suspender might be just the choice (for more on thin vs. wide,. Finally, by “suspender type” to inspire your own off-duty adventures in stylish suspenders.
4: HANGING OUT
Since suspenders snick out of the corridors of power and headed for hipster hangouts and fashionable bars the world over, this trend continues to gather momentum. And for good reason: suspenders are an easy (and easy on the budget) way to make a personalized style statement. From denim-on-denim outfits, to plaid to preppy.
5: ON WOMEN
The world’s most stylish women like to “borrow” (okay, steal) from menswear to give their own look some extra edge and oomph. And what could be sexier than a sexy woman rocking suspenders.