Monday, September 30, 2013

Problems wearing Braces or Suspenders - and how to correct them

I attended a wedding recently where the groomsmen were wearing suspenders under their vests. This is very stylish, as the suspenders allow for the vest to lie flat, and do not create a bulge where a belt would be, as the vest moves smoothly over the pants. The problem was that when the dancing started, the straps started slipping off the shoulders, out of the arm pockets of the vest, similar to the photo on the right. Not only did the groomsmen have to constantly put their straps back on their shoulders, the suspenders were not holding up their pants.

This is one of the problems with wearing suspenders or braces incorrectly. I say incorrectly, as people are snapping on suspenders more often these days, but are not aware of the correct style. In this post I describe several problems to wearing suspenders or braces incorrectly, and how to fix them:
  • Improper button/clip placement: Brace buttons that are positioned too close to the center seam are uncomfortable and tend to distract from the rest of the outfit. They also do not allow the side seam to be properly supported. The opposite is also true – brace buttons that are positioned to far to the sides do not support the pants and are uncomfortable. For suspenders, people position the clips too close to the center seam, or too far to the side.
  • How to correct it: For braces, the first front button should be half-way between your belly button and the side of your body (hip bone). Use the inseam on the pant leg as a general rule. The second button should be placed about 3-4” along the waistband. This should be near the side seam of the pants. The exact placement depends on your waist size and personal preference, but I’ve found this to be the most comfortable. While we are on button placement, the rear buttons should be placed 2” on either side of the rear center seam for Y-back braces, and 2.5-3” for X-back braces. If you are taller, you should space the braces farther apart. Also, if you have a larger waist (36”+), you should position the braces farther apart. Aim for half way between the center seam and side seam. This will keep your pants level and secure.
    For suspenders, the front clips should be positioned half-way between your belly button and the side seam on your pants. For the rear clips, X-back suspenders should be placed about 2-2.5” from either side of the center seam; Y-back suspenders are positioned directly in the center of the pants.
Proper button placement
Buttons are too close to the center


  • Non-adjustable back-junction: Braces and suspenders are designed to have either an X-Back where the straps cross over each other in the rear, or a Y-Back, where the straps join together into a single strap as it continues down to connect with the pants. The place that the straps meet is called the back-junction. When the junction is fixed in place, it cannot be adjusted to fit your body shape. Taller people require the junction to be positioned higher on the back (but not on the neck), than shorter people. See the first photo below - this should be adjusted down, but it is unable to. When the junction is fixed, the straps are uncomfortable as the junction gets too close to the neck and shoulders, or they straps are constantly falling off the shoulders as the junction is too low.
The back junction should be raised
Non-adjustable back-junction


  • How to correct it: For braces or suspenders that have an adjustable back-junction, simply move the junction to be higher or lower. For braces or suspenders with fixed back-junctions, use some of the material from the hem of the pants to sew in rear-tabs on the back of your pants, forming "brace tabs", see image below.
  • Rear-tabs to raise back junction
    This effectively raises the back junction to reduce the chances of the straps slipping of your shoulders. Historically, men wore braces every day, but did not always have adjustable back junctions. Brace tabs were the common solution to keeping straps from slipping off the shoulders.

  • Faulty clips: Suspender clips eventually fail, and when they do, they can snap off suddenly. The more suspenders are worn, the more chance they will lose their gripping power, especially if the cloth material is thick.
  • How to correct it: Unless you love the colors or patterns of the straps, throw out the suspenders and get a better pair. You should also consider graduating to braces, as buttons popping off are less frequent and do not involve metal objects flying around your body!


The next time you wear suspenders or braces, remember to avoid these problems.

25 comments:

  1. As a woman I have experienced problems when I first started wearing braces and suspenders but soon learned how to correct them. Most women's trousers have a thin waistband so using clip on ones is out of the question. To start off with they do grip but every time you take them off to wash the trousers they lose a bit of tightness and slowly work loose. If you have buttons sown on the inside you will find that the top of the waistband folds outwards which does not look good especially if your waistband is a lighter colour than your trousers. So I found sowing them on the outside of the waistband better and you then can use more decorative buttons. But the waistband sits perfect and the trousers sit a the correct height. Later on I purchased a pair of trousers from a good fashion designer and seen that the buttons were on the outside of the waistband so I felt good that I had done it correctly. There is no point to wearing braces if you are going to have them so loose that they slip off the shoulder. They are to be firm enough so you feel some pressure without discomfort or pulling your pants beyond the perfect waistline. That's why a lot of people love braces ( the feel of them )

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    1. @Rachael: Thanks for sharing your experiences and tips to wearing braces. Placing the suspender buttons on the outside of pants is acceptable and does provide another area to display your personality in the design and colors of the buttons. Enjoy wearing braces!

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  2. I had a chuckle when I read your description of the brace strap slipping out from under the vests of some of the groomsmen at the wedding as being a problem. It brought back memories of an even worse problem one faces when wearing suspenders with a vest.

    Several years ago I was at a function wearing a 3 piece suit with vest and suit jacket. As fate would have it, I had one of those moments I suspect we all face at one point or another in our lives where something I had eaten earlier mandated a trip; not in a few minutes, not at a comfortable stroll but an all out red-alert fast break, to the rest room for immediate relief. When I got there the jacket had to come off, then had to undo about 38 buttons (ok there were only 6) on the vest, get the vest off and … well no need to describe further except to report that disaster was averted narrowly. Since then I have enacted my own rule; it’s either suspenders or a vest, never both.

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  3. Its amazing how quickly suspenders go from being an accessory alternative to a belt to a outright necessity when you lose 20 lbs.

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    1. Agreed. Suspenders allow you to keep on wearing your pants without having to buy a whole new wardrobe.
      Enjoy wearing suspenders!

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  4. Do you know or knew parents that force/forced their boys to wear suspenders? What was the age of the boys and how they reacted?

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    1. As a boy my Sunday best outfit was a shorts suit which was worn with braces,long socks and black t bar school sandals or lace ups.In summer the same outfit was worn with brown Roman sandals.I was expected to wear this at church and all formal occasions until I was about 15.By the time I reached high school I hated it,particularly in winter when it was really cold.And also the fact that other boys my age were allowed to wear long trousers while I was made to wear shorts.Also no other boys wore braces or school sandals at 15.Photos of these times when I am the only one wearing shorts,plus the fact that the grey knee high socks make the school sandals stand out still make me cringe.However many years down the track,my choice of what is comfortable has changed.One part of this outfit that I will endorse are braces.I am much more comfortable wearing braces rather than a belt.I have also taken to wearing sandals and long socks in the summer months and have found them extremely comfortable and practical.Get back to braces,I now wear them whenever I can and would recommend to anyone to try wearing braces instead of belts.

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  5. At school in the 1960's I wore braces (suspenders in US speak), but not because my parents forced me to. The elastic of boys underpants was dire, and in order to keep them up you needed to wear braces which also, of course, kept your trousers in place. I was 12 at the time, and did not feel embarrassed to need braces as most of my mates also wore them.

    With so many lads (including my Grandsons) showing their underwear these days, perhaps braces should become compulsory! I still wear them as they are more comfortable than belts, and more efficient!

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  6. i find that the clip keep coming of . and that new ones.

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    1. @Gavin, yes, clips are prone to snapping off. Clips rely on pressure to hold together and stay on the pants. Over time, this pressure losses its strength and starts to fail. The solution is to go back to the way suspenders and braces were originally intended to be worn - with buttons. Buttons are much more secure and will not pop off as frequent as clips. You can find more information here.

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  7. If you can see the connectors at the bottom of the waist coat or get a glimpse of the strap when wearing a vest (waistcoat) that looks good !! However if the braces are like the grooms man in the picture above they aren't doing their job!! They need tightening or it is time to buy another pair !!! The whole point for me is to hold my trousers in place securely and as a woman I feel that is important.
    Andie
    Andie

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  8. Talking of Braces,Suspenders,Straps I remember back in the 70's and going to a private school for girls held by nuns,and having to wear long and large navy blue pleated skirts with buttoned straps,wich was part of the school uniform,straight in front and crossed in the back,and being tall at the age of 16 I had to go back with my mum because the shop selling all the school uniforms had the skirt but not the large straps at my age,and me not wanting to put on the straps we had to go back because it was in the school regulations that all girls ,from 11 to 18 years old had to wear the skirts so,and as said before I was quite tall ,1m76 plus we had to put white bobby socks too,so arriving at the age of 16,17,18 and looking still like a little girl it was'nt fun,especialy when I was out with mum,and being 30cm higher than her I must have looked like a baby doll girl along with my white blouse with big buttons in front +a tie,even in summer when it was hot you had to leave everything on,and in the meantime before the straps were done during two weeks my mother bought me a pair of large navy blue clip on elastic suspenders and I had to wear them !.At school the nuns who done the lessons always had at hand their large and long flat rulers too to spank you on your buttocks,they called you up to their high situated desks in the class room and there your skirts were pulled over your head and Wack they gave it to you and in a hard manner beleive me!,and this was my outfit up till my 18 years old!.So that kind of put me off ,suspenders ,and it took me a long time before I did actualy wear again suspenders with my pants or skirts,.But today being in my fifties I wear for going out a black faux leather skirt with a bib and crossed suspenders in the back wich I do like again,so yes I managed to overcome that no liking suspender strap thing.

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  9. I understand perfectly the message sent here above concerning this young lady having to wear up till the age of 18 her pleated skirts with straps.I suppose this happened in the UK,As for me here in France,from primary school up to college that is from 7 up to 16 years old me too I has to put on what my mother chose me,like the majority of boys,that's a navy blue large bermuda with buttons inside to attach my leather end braces+a nylon buttoned overall wich was obligatary in all the schools in France up till the 80's+ a beret,and me too getting on to 14/16 when I complained my mother fetched the martinet ,a childrens whip with 12 solid leather tails on it wich really stinged your buttocks,that too continued for all the kids up till 1984! A matter a fact my mother insisted of walking me to my schools allways dressed up too in her maxi long nylon overalls wich fell upon her leather laced shoes,and her martinet at hand to whip me when I was'nt walking fast enough!.Even on sundays going out,I took my nylon overall off but as for my 2 piece suit there too it was composed of a jacket and short trousers again with buttons inside for my leather end braces,+ a tie ,and my mother never forgot to take her damned Martinet just in case so there you go and we were in 1974!

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  10. I've just had a look at this blog and commentaries,,as for me for my part being a ladies tailor at home ,I've allways likes straps,braces,or suspenders as so called in the US.Not so long ago I made myself ( for autum and winter ),a very long thick Tweed skirt wich come's down on my big leather boots and buttoned in front with 14 big yellow plastic buttons+4 of the same buttons in front and 2 behind for my large and thick leather end braces ( everybody tell's me I'm cool in it and a big cap in the same tweed,actualy I never hide them I put them over my woolies in winter,I just love them ! It's really a nice feeling ,those large and thick braces pulling things up,and pulling you in the back when bending down.On the other hand as a tailor I find really stupid women who have straps or braces on their trousers or skirts and let them hang down,What's the use of putting them on?! sometimes I would like to have something in hand to cut them off,It's just like a car but with no steering wheel ?!?!

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  11. I agree with the comment above,apparantly by a lady,me to only yesterday going to a very big hypermarket here in France what a stupid and bad habit a lot of women got nowadays ,letting their suspenders hanging down on the side of thir shorts,skirts or pants,I agree too that that it's comletly stupid having the suspenders and not putting them on ?!,just like the other day I went to our town hall and there there was a secretary she too was wearing long pants and a pull over but she too her large leather end suspenders were hanging on the side ?!,As stated above once more me too if I would have had a pair of scisors I would have passed over the counter and cut them off asking if she felt better thet way ,people can really be dam stupid nowadays !!!Okat I'm a young man but Me too I like suspenders ,elastic or leather one's with clips on them but " I PUT THEM ON " I'm pleased to show I've got for instance large leather clip on suspenders with big buckles in the front of them ,For me personaly it's like having a suitcase but taking the handle off " bananas !!

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    1. @Anonymous: Yes, it's unfortunate to see people wearing braces hanging down. They lose out on the benefits of having their pants suspended from their shoulders.
      I wouldn't cut off their straps - they may one day try them on and like it!

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    2. Agree entirely.What is the point of having suspenders and letting them hang.Put them over your your shoulders and have them support your pants/shorts.

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    3. I didn't know the answer to that question either so I asked my 14 yr old son this morning who was wearing his suspenders hanging down today.

      His answer: because it looks cooler with these pants than a belt. My observation was that his skinny jeans had no chance of falling down even without a belt or suspenders anyway.

      Hope that clears it up for you, it certainly did for me. Some battles just aren't worth fighting. :)

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  12. yes I agree with you ,because when you go on line on internet their sizes are'nt certainly not for adults but for kids...,and they do have a problem with suspenders you see nobody around wearing them either !!

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  13. Well you seem to include "braces OR suspenders" in your description and it sounds as if when you are discussing buttons -- your call them braces and when you are discussing clips -- you call them suspenders. As far as I have always been aware, they are the same thing. I've heard buttons and clips called braces in the UK. In the USA, it's generally suspenders for both, except for maybe the Northeast I don't know. I've never heard of buttons or clips distinguishing which name was used. Thanks.

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  14. Though you're technically correct with suspenders and braces being synonyms. I think what the author is trying to do is distinguish between the two prominent types for the purposes of this website. Given the amount of time and effort the author has put in this website I'm reasonably certain that he knows the book definitions of the two words.

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  15. Having recently converted to braces having been impressed by the comfort at a wedding, I find that most folk make favourable comments about them (when I am caught with them on show), but always make excuses when I suggest they try a pair. Why are guys so embarrassed to wear braces? They are great.

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    1. Self confidence I guess. Like wearing any fashion that's different from the norm, it takes self confidence, for example wearing a kilt outside of the UK/Scotland. The way that some pop culture TV clownish characters have worn suspenders that pulled their pants up to their armpits hasn't helped; USA examples are Screech and Urkel, probably others in other countries)

      Lots of guys have told me they would wear suspenders if more guys did. Personally I hope they stay rare, I like being the only one wearing them. I've found them to be a good way to show my individuality, also known as "socially acceptable eccentricity", without being too out there.

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    2. I agree; it takes courage to go outside the clothing norms, especially for males who generally want to conform and blend in. Women on the other hand push the style boundaries - just look at the androgynous looks nowadays.

      I like that suspenders are not mainstream (although some designers are bringing them back). The pant waistline is rising and braces go well with high-rise pants.

      In addition to showing your personality, by wearing braces you get to enjoy the comfort that your pants won't fall down all day. Belt wearers can suffer through sliding pants and swim in pant leg materials at their ankles.

      It's enlightening to watch people's reactions when you display your braces - either by taking off your jacket or proudly wearing them on display. I find people are interested and genuinely curious. Some people ask how the straps attach to the waistline as they are not familiar with the buttons sewn inside the waistline.

      Pop culture has not helped suspenders, but there's nothing to be embarrassed about wearing them. Glad you enjoy wearing suspenders!

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  16. Your right, suspenders definitely aren't mainstream. I cant tell you how many times I've been identified as the guy with the suspenders or the kid with the suspenders in the 2nd row. That's almost always good thing. There was one time where it was spectacularly bad.

    I was 15, a half dozen friends and I snuck out of an adult supervised teenager church dance (boring) and went into the graveyard in back with a bottle of vodka. That probably would have been OK but somebody had left the keys in the ignition of the cemetery backhoe, we decided we needed to rearrange some of the gravestones. Luckily we didn't break any. After we had moved a bunch of them we saw a police cruiser pull up with the lights flashing so we hightailed it back into the church with the other 300 kids thinking the cops would never figure out who we were. We were almost right, the person that called the cops couldn't see us very well because it was dark, but was sure one had suspenders on.

    I didn't rat out my friends, but I did spend the summer of my 10th grade in the historical section of that cemetery cleaning, refurbishing and replanting revolutionary war (war of American Independence) gravestones.

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