This guide will show you exactly How To Wear Suspenders as well as some classic suspender pairings. If you’ve made the decision to wear braces (suspenders) in lieu of a belt, you should be commended! You’ve made a decision to take the sartorial road less travelled, which opens many styling opportunities.
Every garment we wear has “rules” associated with it, and suspenders are no exception. How do manage to wear suspenders in an aesthetically pleasing way? Following the steps below to find out:
Simply use the links above to jump ahead or scroll down to read more.
More Suspender Guides
Shirt Fitting Guides
Top 9 Tips & Tricks For Wearing Braces
Below, we’ll break down a titbits of advice when it comes to braces that could really help with their daily wear. By the way, if you still haven’t bought your braces, why don’t you check out our full guide to the best suspender brands from which you can buy online?
Anyway, read on to learn more!
1. Coordinate With Shoes
The button holders should coordinate with the color of your shoes. This is a good rule of thumb except in the case of white braces that are worn with a tuxedo, in which case you’ll obviously be wearing black shoes.
Additionally, if you’re a bit more advanced in terms of your color matching prowess, you can break this rule within reason. For example, Bespoke Unit Founder Paul Anthony often wears exotic leathers in non-traditional colors that don’t always match when wearing braces. We’ll go more in depth in terms of “uncoordinated coordination” in step three below, but know that once you’ve demonstrated mastery of the rules, you have some license to bend them.
Such is the way with clothing and in life, we suppose.
2. Coordinate With Your Outfit…
Logic and a decent sartorial sense dictate the guidelines for wearing suspenders well. Braces live on the torso, which means they share the same visual plane as the tie. Therefore, your tie and braces are the first things that you should coordinate.
The standard pattern and color mixing concepts apply for which are some basic, quick tips:
- Solid suspenders are your best starting point due to their versatility. Most men tend to wear patterned ties, and coordinating these with solid braces will make your life easier because your only mixing criteria will be color.
- Patterned braces such as stripes, plaids, dots, etc. will work best with solid or discreetly patterned ties. They are less versatile than solids, of course, but the payoff for a good combination is quite high.
If coordinating with your tie is something you can’t or don’t feel like doing, the next garments to consider are the dress shirt and trouser. Again, the same pattern and color mixing guidelines apply. Note above how there’s blue in the tie, shirt, and suspenders, while the yellow in the tie also hearkens back to the shirt.
Finally, suspenders are similar to socks in that they spend most of their time covered up by another garment (trousers in the case of socks, waistcoats and / or jackets in the case of braces). With that in mind, you have some license in terms of what you coordinate your suspenders with. It really just depends on your skill, comfort level, and audience.
Let’s assume you’re going to a wedding and you want to wear braces with your suit. Sure, you can wear blue suspenders to coordinate with your purple-and-blue striped tie. But if your socks are, say, blue with green polka dots, who’s to say you can’t wear some green braces to call out those dots? We wouldn’t recommend this for a board meeting, but it’s a great move on a more festive occasion.
3. …Or Don’t Coordinate At All
Braces live underneath a jacket or vest, as such you have a lot of leeway in terms of color and pattern. You can theoretically let your suspenders do their own things and be just fine.
4. Don’t Wear Clips & Never Wear A Belt With Braces
No clip-on suspenders please, and NEVER a belt. Combining the two gives off an air of extreme pessimism, to paraphrase Glenn O’Brien:
Clip-ons are decidedly bush league, corny, and whatever other synonyms you can think of for those words, and wearing a belt with suspenders indicates a man who’s far too concerned with keeping his pants up.
5. Belt Loops?
Ideally, trousers worn with suspenders will not have belt loops, which look conspicuously empty when worn without a belt. Still, if everything else in the outfit is pulled off well, you can get away with it:
Side adjuster tabs are still perfectly acceptable, however, and can be seen in action below:
6. Trouser Rise Should Be High
Low-rise pants simply don’t look right with suspenders. Opt for trousers that sit at your natural waist, not your hips. This is a physical comfort issue as well.
7. (Somewhat) Looser Trouser Waistband
Braces are known to allow your pants to “float” around your waist, which is part of their value. To achieve this, they must be a bit looser than your snug trousers.
Braces are de rigeur with formalwear. Formal trousers take either side tabs and / or braces, and traditionally the braces are white. Under no circumstances should you wear a belt.
9. Adjuster / Buckle Placement
All braces, even custom ones, have buckles so that length can be adjusted. It used to be that braces were sold in set sizes like belts were (32, 34, 36, etc.), which was very helpful in terms of keeping the buckles where they should rest, which is pretty much right in the center of the torso.
Nowadays, braces are all sold in one set size, which is quite long so as to accommodate tall men. With that said, men under 5’10” or so can run into issues of having buckles up around their collarbones.
Do You Know How To Put On Suspenders?
Knowing how to wear suspenders with style is definitely important knowledge for any man. However, it won’t matter if you don’t know how to put them on!
We have created a very detailed step-by-step guide on how to put on suspenders in case you need help. Have a look!
Classic Suspender Pairings For Men
Suspenders With Jeans
Full disclosure: we do not care for the braces-and-denim look. Knowing that, if you choose to wear this combination, you might as well do it correctly.
The most important thing to do is retrofit your jeans with brace buttons. Clip-on suspenders, as mentioned above, are bush league no matter how you slice it. In other words, they come across as half-hearted and considerably less than authentic.
Furthermore, clip-on suspenders will be ineffective when undertaking manual work. Therefore, if you’re pairing them with jeans and undertaking some heavy-lifting, they may well come undone when you least expect it.
Having addressed the need to wear proper, to-button suspenders with denim, the next thing to talk about is material. Most suspenders nowadays are made from rayon, while others are made from necktie silk (the latter is particularly true in the world of custom clothing).
While silk suspenders have a nice feel to them, they tend to not be as durable as rayon ones. When we talk about the rougher aesthetic aspects of denim, it stands to reason that silk suspenders are just too delicate a look to pull off. Stick with rayon, whose rougher texture will sync more harmoniously with the more casual vibe of jeans.
Finally, the question of width comes into play. Any suspenders worth wearing are either 1.25″ or 1.5″ wide. Similar to belt width, any narrower or wider and they will start looking costume-y and silly.
Just as you typically wear wider belts with jeans, so should you wear wider suspenders with denim. Again, this goes back to the concept of sartorial harmony; generally speaking, “bigger” is synonymous with “more casual,” and your jeans-with braces outfit will look better when you keep this in mind.
Wearing A Bow Tie & Suspenders
Wearing suspenders and a bow tie is a classic combination that makes for a natty presentation if you do it right. If you do it wrong, you end up looking like a hipster who goes nuts for Disney theme parks’ Dapper Day, which is anything but dapper.
What’s the difference between right and wrong here? Adherence to or disregard of the no clip-on rule.
For the third time, clip-on suspenders are simply a non-starter. Clip-on bow ties are similarly a non-starter as they look too perfect and lack the style necessary to be truly pulled off. If one or both of these elements is clipped on, your look is doomed.
On the other hand, if you tie your own tie and button your braces to your trousers, the chances of you looking actually dapper go through the roof.
Braces With A Tuxedo
Wearing braces with a tuxedo is a wonderful idea, though it’s not necessary if your trousers stay up on their own (tuxedo trousers often have side adjusters). Just make sure they’re white, and know that they can be paired with either a cummerbund or a vest.
Suspenders With A Vest Or Waistcoat
You can certainly wear suspenders with a vest. In fact, a hundred years or so ago when braces were considered underwear, a waistcoat was meant to cover them up, in addition to the brace buttons which lived on the outside of the waistband.
A word to the wise: give yourself a few extra moments when using the bathroom while wearing braces with a waistcoat. What was once a one-minute time investment becomes a multi-step process when you have to remove a vest before relieving yourself!
Suspenders have the potential to add a lot of style to your presentation. This is not just because they look good on their own as a standalone item, but also because the increased comfort and mobility will allow you to carry yourself in a more comfortable way physically. Feeling comfortable in what you wear is perhaps the most underrated aspect of style.
For more information on suits and braces, take a look at more of our resources:
The infographic is very useful for my reference. I cherish the splendid drawing. Nevertheless, there are some terms that I would like to ask. I have several questions:
1. Must trousers for braces have a fishtail back?
2. Should trousers for braces be added with or without side-adjusters?
3. What advantages & disadvantages of button-tab (daks tops) and slide-buckle side-adjusters, respectively?
I am looking forward for your reply. Thank you.
Thanks for your kind words! I’ve answered your questions as best as I can:
1. Not necessarily. Although the fishtail shape works better when pulled by suspenders, regular trousers are fine too.
2. Again, this isn’t necessary but if the trousers are tailored to your size, they can be beneficial when experiencing variances in the midriff (if you know what I mean).
3. Mostly a question of personal preference, slide buckles can wear over time and not stay in place whilst buttons are easier to replace when they become loose.
Hope this answers your questions!
My friends insist that I should not wear my braces without a jacket to hide them. Surely this is really old-fashioned now. I see others wearing them loud and proud!
I wholeheartedly agree, Joe! If you’ve got them, flaunt them!
Can braces be worn without a tie?
They sure can, they are there to hold your trousers up. Technically, they are underwear like socks and boxers. Today however they can been seen as a style statement too.
For me personally, I much prefer the feel of braces over a belt. As ones trousers are free to “float” around the midriff.
Cheers – Paul
For my wedding in Australia next year I am going to get a 3 peice suit custom made and the vest I am going to have made in a 6 button double breasted, I was leaning towards wearing a belt but have decided to go with suspenders, are there any tips you can give me for wearing suspenders under a suit vest as part of my 3 peice suit, I want to wear the lightest possible suspenders fabric wise
I know very little except what I have read above about wearing suspenders
Thank you I look forward to your help and reply
I hope that you don’t mind my answering on Paul’s behalf.
Firstly, good choice on choosing braces over a belt. Belts don’t tend to go well with three-piece suits – they add bulk around the waistline and can undermine the waistcoat’s cut. Similarly, they can weigh down the trousers and cause the buckle to poke out from under the waistcoat.
Going back to your question, I first suggest that you choose buttoned braces rather than clip-on. If you’re getting your suit custom made, ask for the trousers to be without belt loops but suspender buttons instead. This means that you won’t have the fiddle around in doing them yourself.
Not only do buttoned braces look the part, but they’ll hold up your trousers evenly while clip-on braces tend to pinch in certain areas.
The next consideration is what colour suit, shirt and tie you’ll be wearing. Traditionally, white suspenders are worn on weddings but that’s presuming that you’re wearing black tie or a morning suit. However, you could always opt for something that matches the colour of your tie if you’re dress will be less formal and more contemporary.
Hope that the above helps. If you have any more specific questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
I kind of disagree with the absolute rule of no braces and belt. I generally wear a work shirt and jeans with a belt and belt clip braces. The braces hold my jeans up and the belt holds my knives, sheathed multipliers, flashlight and Zippo. But I do agree with dress clothing it should he one or the other
If it’s in a utilitarian or work context, then yes, this makes perfect sense. Of course, we’re looking at it from strictly a dress perspective.
Very nice article got some idea of writing style and motivation too
Can you wear navy stripe braces with a light blue stripe shirt?
Absolutely, that sounds perfectly fine with me as they’re complementary colours.
Great read but i need help. Can i wear bracea without a blazer if so i was thinking blue trousers and braces, white shirt, red time and brow shoes?
Absolutely, I love visibly wearing braces with a shirt and tie. Your choice of colours sounds rich but ought to work!
I would like to respectfully disagree on two related points: farmers (along with field research scientists, tradesmen such as electricians or mechanics, and people with similarly physical hobbies) should absolutely not wear clip on suspenders (which are prone to failure), but may wish to wear wide nylon or leather button suspenders with a heavy toolbelt,assuming said toolbelt’s primary purpose is to hang tools from and not to keep one’s pants up.
Thanks for your comment. I honestly don’t know what got into the editor who added this here. I presume that it was an attempt at dramatics! Having worked in a few stables myself, I agree that clip-on braces serve no purpose. When working outside, I’ll opt for a trousers with a heavy duty yarn with buttoned braces so they won’t come undone when bending down and lifting something heavy.
All the best,
I used to wear button suspenders a lot with suits in the late 90’s and up to around 2004. They were subtle, but in some circumstances I would take off the jacket and I still felt comfortable with the look. Lately I have only worn them under a sweater because the population of men who wear them seems to a cultural subset, or very old or fat men. I am upper 40’s, 5-11 and 155 lbs.
I did wear suspenders which came with the five pair of Varvatos semi-dress/semi-casual pants I bought since 2009 because they had the buttons on the outside and no belt loops (I really liked that Varvatos trend.
Any thoughts on how to get back into look so my coworkers and others don’t think I’m quirky? Really miss the look.
Thoughts or ideas?
I don’t think that wearing suspenders makes you quirky, but that’s just me. Personally, I’d just go all-in and be proud about it.
If you own a look, it’s irreproachable!
So buttoned suspenders on trousers with no belt loops would be the best way forward. Alternatively, you could always wear them under a waistcoat?
Daughters wedding, black tie, suspenders under a waist coat. 1/2 size up on the waist, never been that comfortable in dress cloths. I am thinking of making a big change to my wardrobe. I see suspenders in my future. Great article. Cheers
Great stuff! Enjoy! I’m similar in that I don’t like it when trousers are too snug. When there’s too much extra material, trousers tend to bunch up too, which isn’t an appealing look. Overall, I’m very fond of braces as an alternative.
Are there special trousers to use the non clip braces, if not How’s it attached?
You just need to sew buttons onto your trousers. We have a guide on how to do it should you need it!
Thank you bespokeunit for giving me wonderful information about braces
You’re very welcome!
Hi there, hoping someone could help me out here…
I have a wedding coming up shortly and I’m thinking about wearing suspenders instead of a belt… However living in a small Eastern European country has huge disadvantages in the world of men’s style… I spent months looking for a pair of monk strap shoes but that’s another story… I’ve been looking for suspenders for a while now and all I could find were black and burgundy clip-ons… Do you think I should try those or go for belt? I’m wearing a burgundy suit with a white shirt and black monk straps… really hoping this article is still active and someone could help me out
As you can see in the comments, there are a few supporters of clip-on suspenders. If you’re fine with that, that’s up to you. I personally wouldn’t be and would keep looking for suspenders with buttons. Do none of the brands in our list of the best suspenders are present of delivery to your country?
Otherwise, a black belt to go with the black monk straps would be absolutely fine, too.
My brother has been wearing suspenders for long and I liked this blog post as it contains very useful tips for wearing suspenders perfectly.
Great to hear that it helped!
From the first day I wore braces (I am English), I realised how much more comfortable (and efficient) they were at keeping my pants up. It is impracticable to keep them covered all the time, and this old rule now seems to be ignored, thank goodness. However, my brother refuses to be seen with me if my braces are showing – surely I should be the one who is embarrassed, but he reckons he is, and I am not.
Sounds like your brother could do with a browse of our website! I say wear your suspenders with pride as they are indeed timeless and stylish. Perhaps find an occasion for him to try braces for himself and see if he comes around.
Im guessing this is an American blog but I don’t agree with the button/clips in your article. In Australia people that wear braces, including myself, tend to be over 50 and braces look better than a belt with a belly hanging over it. Most brace wearers here wear clips, because the leather button loops and the buttons on the pants seem to be the look of a Doctor or Lawyer type person and the average person trying to dress ‘upwards’ would look like a knob wearing these. A bit like going to a building site, or office wearing a pair of Italian leather shoes or your $700 RM Williams boots. Also you would be hard pressed to find a pair of pants here with said buttons. Clips in Australia are quite more acceptable than buttons. I may sound like a pleb, but still like to dress to the occasion when I go to town.
I haven’t seen any info on what to wear to a funeral. I am planning on black braces, black pants, black shirt, black and grey tweed fabric jacket and black shoes. Is this too morbid for a sad occasion? should I wear a silver or grey shirt?
We’ve got a guide just on that topic here: https://bespokeunit.com/suits/guides/funeral/
Check it out and leave a comment there if you’ve got additional questions.
Awesome information, good luck to all and wear your braces/suspenders with pride. 👍👍👍