Saturday, August 13, 2011

Origin of Clip-on Suspenders

Suspender straps were originally designed to be attached to trousers with buttons. The 1897 Sears Roebuck & Co. Catalogue displays 2 pages of button-on braces. Button-on braces support the trousers evenly in the front and the rear. 

Nowadays, people also wear clip-on suspenders rather than button-on braces. One may ask the question: When were clip-on suspenders invented?
I decided to do some research on this topic - you may be surprised to find the answer. I perused vintage department store catalogues and searched vintage photographs from the late 1800s, during 1900s up to the current era. You may be surprised to learn that clip-on suspenders have been around since the early 1940’s. In fact, the 1943 Sears and Wards Catalog clearly displays 4 styles for clip-on suspenders. They came in a elastic plastic weave, and rayon webbing, as displayed below along side the button-on braces:

Therefore, clip-on suspenders have been around for more than 70 years. Buttons have held their place (pun intended) among clip-ons, and remain the preferred choice of brace wearers. Refer to previous blog post on this topic. However, there is a place for clip-on suspenders.

Clip-on suspenders work well when you are wanting to achieve a minimal, clean-cut look or to add a little extra dash of fun to an outfit.

Today, clip-on suspenders are everywhere in magazines and online. Many stores carry a wide variety of colors, styles, and designs. So go out there and wear some suspenders!

Discussion time:
  • Did you imagine that clip-on suspenders were invented in the 1940s?
  • When was the first time you wore clip-on suspenders?
  • Do you prefer to wear clip-on suspenders or button-on suspenders? Why? 

Note: all photos are used solely for non-commercial use and to illustrate braces in fashion. No plagiarism is intended.


  1. Having no pants with button for braces, my obvious choice was the clip-on variety, and at 22 i feel they give a more modern look. It has proved true that the clips weaken over time, but only if you keep transferring them to different pairs of pants. I keep mine clipped on once attached, and find they rarely fail.

  2. I prefer button on suspenders not just for the safety factor but i feel they look a bit more dressy. but after saying that if im just wearing around casual and not on a night out or to work then i will just wear the clip on ones. over all i probably own about 5 pairs of clip on suspenders but then i have about 12 button ones.

  3. @Justin: I agree that clip-on suspenders are easier to attach and give the more sleek, modern look. Keep on wearing them!

    @Rachel: Glad to hear that you like button-on braces - they are more dressy. What do you like to wear the braces with? Do you have any pictures available to post online?

    1. I dont have any pictures at the present but will have to get the camera out and post some. i enjoy wearing braces with anything but if i was to choose a favourite outfit then i would have to choose one that i wear to work which is a crisp white shirt with french cuffs which has light ruffles down the front and my black pinstriped wide leg trousers which i wear black y back braces and then a nice pair of heels to finish off on the odd day i will have a plain shirt and put a tie with it. i have come to love braces so much that i even removed the straps from my denim overalls and fitted black elastic braces to them

  4. I would have said they were invented in the 1930’s but I guess I am surprised that they had been invented before 1900. The first time I wore clip-ons was 1972 in 5th grade. I remember vividly because no one wore suspenders in 5th grade and these were bright yellow with a black stripe and batman logo on the cross piece. I thought I was pretty cool.
    I’ll wear button on’s with a suit and tie. If its casual (jeans) or business casual (tie but not suit jacket) I’ll wear clip-on’s. The button-on’s seem too formal if a suit isn’t required to me.

    1. @Anonymous: Wow, batman suspenders are cool in 5th grade! Its great to see themed suspenders on kids!

      I agree that button-on braces are more formal than clip-on suspenders, but suspenders do not only serve a stylish purpose, they also serve a functional purpose of supporting the pants. The 6 buttons that attach the braces to the pants provide better placement of support in meeting the functional purpose.

      In the end it comes down to what you find comfortable wearing, and enjoy wearing. So enjoy wearing braces with your suits and suspenders for casual occasions!

    2. 3rd grade actually.

      We were going through some family pictures at my mom’s 60th birthday a few months ago when we came across a picture of me wearing my Batman suspenders. When I pointed them out, Mom gave me the back story on them that I hadn’t known until then. Those suspenders had been the bait in my mother’s Trojan horse plot.

      To set the story, a few things happened during that summer that started things in motion for Mom’s little scheme. The first Batman movie had come out, I and all my friends had seen it and were agog with Batman. Anything with an Avenger superhero on it, especially Batman, was automatically cool. I was constantly bugging Mom for Batman/ Avenger stuff and just as constantly told we couldn’t afford it. Other kids were getting Batman backpacks, shoes, etc. etc., I felt very deprived. . My older sister’s overbite needed braces and my parents were going broke paying for them. Finally a bag of Cousin Seth’s clothes showed up.

      My Aunt had given my Mom a bag of school clothes that Cousin Seth had outgrown. They should “fit pretty well” I was told. When I was dragooned into modeling them the situation clearly wasn’t as promising as advertised. Not dissuaded “You’re growing so fast you’ll grow into them in no time” Mom assured me. I hated them immediately and ignored them. What I didn’t know at the time was that because of the cost of my elder sisters new braces Cousin Seth’s cloths had limited clothes for the new school year were limited to socks and underwear as a result of the windfall and shortage of cash.

      My ability to ignore the windfall lasted until the 1st day of school. Upon seeing the first pair of pants being precariously held up by my belt even Mom admitted that maybe, just maybe, the “fit pretty well” and “you’ll grow into them” assertions might have been optimistic. Dad’s and my sister’s expressions didn’t do wonders for my 8 yr. old ego either. Appearing to puzzle over the problem Mom baited the hook of her little Trojan horse scheme and said “maybe Batman could help”. My ears perked up at Batman but I had no clue how he could possibly help. I think my response was “huh?” Mom produced the Batman suspenders and got them on me. I had no idea what they were and didn’t care, the only thing I noticed was the Batman logo on them. My 8 yr. old brain had just started to wrap itself around the joy of finally getting something Batman, when my belt was removed, the requisite 1st day of school pictures taken and I was hustled out to meet the school bus. Mom must have been feeling a little guilty because she said maybe she could take in the other pants so they fit as I went out the door. I was ½ way to school before I noticed I was wearing Cousin Seth’s pants held up by some weird straps I had never seen before.

      The next morning I can remember asking Mom which pants I should wear. “Any of them, wear your Batman’s with them” she said. This went on for a few days, then a pair of solid blue suspenders turned up. They were “Superman’s” Mom said. “You can’t wear Batman every day; people will think you’re an orphan” I was told. Over the next few days several other different color pairs showed up, each time I was told they were one of the superheroes’ from the Avengers The other superheroes weren’t as good as Batman, but definitely worthy. I never noticed that the new ones didn’t have the superhero logos on them and the word “suspenders” was never used. I wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box at 8, I never saw the freight train that had just run over me.

      To finish the story; quite mysteriously Cousin Seth’s pants were never altered (mom hated sewing). I never did grow into Cousin Seth’s clothes and they were regular additions to my wardrobe, because my sister’s braces were a 3yr ordeal. Mom admitted, when she saw Cousin Seth’s pants on me the first time, she knew they were going to need suspenders. She wasn’t sure I’d go for them without a fight. When she found the batman suspenders she bought them knowing that they were the perfect Trojan horse to ease me into it.

    3. Sorry for the length of that, I was having fun writing it.

    4. @Anonymous: that's a great story! Thanks for sharing it and the context! No need to apologize - this blog is here for people to share, learn, and be comfortable wearing suspenders.
      I wonder how many other mothers used the same decoy to coax little boys with hand-me-downs to wear suspenders. I would think others have had similar experiences.

      Any other suspender stories from your childhood?

    5. I’m glad you enjoyed it, it was fun putting the two halves of the story together, it just wound up a bit longer than I had expected. Honestly I don’t think many kids would have fallen for it because I had the entire suspender wearing market to myself growing up from grade 3 on. Here’s a few quirky stories that I can remember from that age.

      My first shirts and skins pickup soccer game wearing cousin Seth’s pants was a valuable learning experience in my suspender wearing career. As a member of the skins team I had tossed off my shirt and suspenders and had just started running onto the field when I was late realizing that a frantic grab was required to prevent Cousin Seth’s pants from obeying the laws of gravity. My header into the turf was epic, luckily, I was able to retire, dignity somewhat bereft, from the field for hasty reinstallation of my trouser suspension devices. Lesson learned; when wearing cousin Seth’s pants properly installed suspenders was required at all times for the maintenance of my dignity and athletic prowess.

      School bus drivers, teachers and most adults thought my suspenders were excellent for grabbing to discourage me from going in directions or doing things they didn’t feel appropriate. It’s amazing how well your body follows your pants around. They were used that way quite a bit. I know Mom thought they were great for getting my attention from the Gameboy console to do something like; feed the dog or some other task. The alternative was a shirt collar or an ear lobe so I suppose that was a good thing. They did get used by opponents for tackling in football, basketball and soccer games but so were shirts, shorts, belt loops, hair, skin and anything else that could be grabbed so I couldn’t complain about my suspenders being used. Quite a few pair got broken, but I found that tying the broken suspender to a belt loop was a good temporary fix. Dad got pretty good at fixing the clips if I could find all the parts.

      I did go through the wedgy thing in 4th grade. One kid tried it on me, unfortunately he hadn’t fully grasped the concept of a wedgy; he pulled on the suspenders instead of ..; and broke the back clips. Mom had to be called from the school office to bring another pair from home as the aforementioned fit problem with cousin Seth’s pants manifested itself. Later that same day, I had a high impact discussion in a low traffic area of the school that left that kid stuffed in his locker for a considerable period of time until someone heard him banging on the door, I may have jammed the locker door shut with several quarters from my lunch money. I wound up with detention for 3 days for that one. Given the nature of the transgression the penalty was surprisingly benevolent; violence in school was generally frowned upon and usually carried a 3 day suspension. I think Mom might have had a word or two with the Vice Principle after she delivered my replacements that mitigated my sentence.

      Early in 3rd grade, during the social studies class we studied the Amish culture. The fact that Amish males wore suspenders came up pretty quickly. I wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed but I couldn’t fail to notice the similarities between the average Amish male’s suspenders and my batman’s. Many of my classmates pointed it out to me in case I had missed it. That’s when I had the epiphany that my beloved superheroes were not, in fact, holding my pants up as I had previously thought. It was like discovering Santa Clause didn’t exist again, I was depressed for several minutes.

    6. @Anonymous: Thanks for sharing these stories from your childhood. I'm sure many others have similar stories.

  5. Thank you, very interesting blog, but sorry, the´re invented earlier.
    Look at this magazine ad:


    1. @Anonymous: Thanks. That's helpful to know.
      Do you wear clip-on suspenders or button-on braces?

  6. I was 6 when I first started wearing clip ons. I discovered that I perfer buttonbraces to suspenders but I do like suspenders a lot too!! I certainly wouldn't refuse a pair of suspenders as a present , but as gifts go a new pair of button braces would be preferable!!!

    1. I was also young when I wore my first pair of wearing clip-on suspenders. It wasn't until I was in my 20s that I discovered braces. I find button-on braces more comfortable and stylish and enjoy wearing them.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Clips on suspenders were invented in the 30's by an American citizen of Spanish origin.


Thank you for commenting on Everything About Braces. Join our social media community on Pinterest at and Instagram at