An often forgotten accessory in men’s fashion is suspenders. But then, their original function was to be kept hidden. Different varieties of suspenders have been used by people since 400-500 BC.
Here we bring you stylish variations of suspenders and give you a brief history of this stylish accessory for the gentleman.
Albert Thurston – inventor of modern suspenders
The modern form of suspenders was invented by the Englishman Albert Thurston in 1820 and became an instant success as they fitted very well with the high-cut trousers of the time. However, it was the dandy and style icon Beau Brummell who pioneered suspenders in England.
Suspenders were also used to hold up underwear, as modern elasticated waist underwear was not invented until the 1930s.
Albert Thurston made a few small modifications to create the braces we recognise today. Two parallel strands at the front and an X or Y shape at the back, attached with clips, buttons or buckles.
What made suspenders so popular in the early days was that elegant English businessmen started using them. Here, however, the rules of etiquette regarding the use of suspenders were clear.
The most important of these was that the suspenders should never be visible. They were always to be worn under a waistcoat or under a closed jacket.
The heat wave that swept across Europe in the 1890s made suspenders less popular for a time because of these etiquette rules.
Suspenders popular among Americans
Among Americans, however, the love of suspenders was more unconditional and people often defied the rules of etiquette to continue wearing them. They were a useful and versatile accessory used by aristocrats and cowboys alike.
Since the early 20th century, the rules of etiquette have been rewritten regarding the use of suspenders, but there are still some rules worth remembering.
When used with a tuxedo, suspenders should always be white (never a belt with a tuxedo). With more casual attire there are no clear rules of etiquette, but among the more elegant Albert Thurston variants, leather details are always seen in the fastening.
Suspenders in popular culture
Men’s fashion icons who have used suspenders include Fred Astaire in the 1930s and 1940s, as well as Cary Grant, John Wayne and Paul Newman. Paul Newman, in particular, used them prominently in several of the films he appeared in.
In the 1980s, suspenders became a symbol of yuppie culture with the film Wall Street, in which Michael Douglas used them in many of the scenes.
Even today, suspenders have their faithful users in many different contexts, ranging from the financial industry to those who like to express a more personal style by adding this stylish accessory.
Suspenders have also been included as decorative additions by alternative subcultures, such as the Syntars and the Skulls.
FAQs – Suspenders
British Albert Thurston is well known for his high quality suspenders. The brand has a history stretching back over two hundred years and their suspenders have been worn by royalty, presidents and successful businessmen over the years.
You can find high quality suspenders at several online fashion stores. Amazon, for example, carries suspenders from the UK’s Albert Thurston.
When used with a tuxedo, suspenders should always be white or black. You should never wear a belt with a tuxedo.
Yes, suspenders are definitely in fashion right now. With an increased interest in classic menswear, there has also been an increased interest in suspenders. Trousers with a classic cut and rich waist detailing go great with suspenders.
Suspenders give a more natural look than belts when wearing certain types of trousers. When you wear high-waisted trousers with front pleats, suspenders often look better. For suits with a classic cut, we can also recommend suspenders rather than belts.