Clip-on suspenders have sharp teeth that grip the pant material. They are sometimes called alligator clips. The clip grips the waistband of the pant, leading to the material being damaged over time. Clip-ons provide a quick, easy method to attach suspenders to your pants or skirt. Each shoulder strap has 1 clip that snaps to the front of your pants on each side of the hips, and 1 or 2 clips (depending on if it’s a Y or X style) that clip to the back. They come in wide variety of colors, can be thin or wide, and add a fresh spice to a dull wardrobe. Because they are so easy to attach, they are designated to the novice suspender-wearer.
Wearing clip-ons with a formal suit or skirt not only looks tacky and cheap - like wearing a clip-on tie - but also damages the materials from the pull of the sharp teeth. No well-dressed individual would use clip-ons when wearing a formal outfit.
There’s also braces that have 8 connection points – 4 in the front, and 4 in the back, which can be very comfortable.
Connection points are the key consideration. If you just want to follow the latest trend, you can use clip-on suspenders. But if you actually want comfort and to hold up your pants, you should use button-on braces. Case in point, this man wearing suspenders when he should be wearing braces. The suspenders are not adequately supporting the pants. In the photo below, the gentleman should be wearing button-on braces to properly support his wider waist with 4 connection points in front.
|More connection points (with braces) would better support these pants|
V-tabs are more traditional, with a D-shaped ring that allows the straps to pivot on the shoulder strap. As the brace-wearer moves, the straps pivot along the ring, but do not shift when you lean left or right. Therefore, when you lean sideways, the opposite side will feel a pull on the outer button, pulling the pants up. This increased strain is the number one reason for buttons popping off, and why the outer button generally pops off first.
|Note the popped button and|
loose brace strap
Below is a photo of Robert Shaw playing Doyle Lonnegan in The Sting from 1973. He is wearing inverse-U tab braces. I've highlighted the change in the straps position in this still image capture. Notice how the inverse-U tabs shifted as he bends forward (the red outline). The strap shifts closer to the inner front button than the outer one, accommodating the body movement. This is in contrast to if he was wearing inverse-V tabs (the blue outline). The inverse-V tab puts extra strain on the outer front buttons, whereas the inverse-U tab style shifts some of the pull.
|Doyle Lonnegan from The Sting, 1973|
Many opponents to braces state that buttons pop off easily. After wearing braces for many years I have simply not found this to be the case. In fact, up to this point I think I can only remember one time that a button popped off, and that was due to poor workmanship. The button popped off, and I noticed it right away because of the change in tension. I was wearing inverse-U tab braces, so I doubled up the tab to the remaining button. The braces continued to hold up my pants, and I continued on my way until I sewed on the button.
What If I'm still worried about a button popping off?
If you are concerned about buttons popping off, I recommend wearing inverted V-tab braces. One drawback of U-tabs is that if one button pop-off, the strap pulls up as one end of the tab is not anchored to anything. This is not the case with inverse V-tabs which retains the tension as the tab is anchored to the pants and to the strap junction. Mind you, if you pop-off a button on either style, the loss in the connection point will be noticed quickly!
As you’ve probably noticed, I generally use suspenders to refer to clip-on suspenders, and braces to refer to the button-on variety.
I recommend button-on braces any and every day over clip-on suspenders. But you do get marks for wearing suspenders!
The primary disadvantage of clip-on suspenders is that they always snap off at the wrong time, or need constant adjusting...
|This lady has not even noticed that her suspender clip has snapped off|
...but they are easy to put on to hold up pants.
Alternative connections include:
- bachelor buttons provide a permanent connection with a metal rivet and suitable for denim. These are useful when doing heavy labour, but may not be stylish.
- single connection strap – These are simple and basic, but do not provide sufficient support for the pants. This is because there are fewer connection points which will result in sagging.
- Clip on, button-style connections – like these. These are the middle ground connections that try to be too much. They are handy for snapping on your pants, but are not suitable for formal wear, where buttons show the more polished image.
- Straps sewn directly into the pants or skirt. These are stylish, but don’t allow for movement and stretch during the day. As a result, they are more prone to ripping and tearing which is harder to repair than sewing on a button.
- What type of connection do you prefer?
- Do you buy pants/skirts and then find braces to wear with them, or buy braces and then find pants/skirt to wear with it?
Note: all photos are used solely for non-commercial use and to illustrate braces in fashion. No plagiarism is intended.