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How To Coordinate Suspenders & Ties

Dressing up is relatively rare nowadays – pandemics that create a need for remote work have a way of doing that ushering in that kind of culture. Within that paradigm, wearing suspenders (or braces) is even rarer still. We appreciate esoteric minutiae just as much as any lover of menswear worth their salt – with that in mind, this post is a quick guide on how to coordinate suspenders & ties.

If you haven’t worn suspenders in lieu of a belt, we encourage you to try a pair. The comfort of suspending your pants from your shoulders, allowing them to float around your waist, is unbeatable.

Suspenders vs. Braces – Terminology

custom suspenders in philadelphiaThere are two terms that describe strips of fabric that lay atop your shoulders and attach to your pants – “suspenders” and “braces.” Depending who you ask, they may mean the same thing, or not.

One school of thought says that suspenders and braces are the same thing. “Suspenders” is an American English term, while “braces” is British English. In fact, “suspenders” in British English refers to garters – not even close to the same thing. The other school of thought says that “suspenders” specifically clip to your trousers and “braces” attach to your them via buttons on their waistband.

No matter what you call them, do not wear clip-ons. Unless you’re in construction or firefighting, this is a surefire mark of an unsophisticated dresser.

How To Wear Braces & Ties

eight ties and coordinating handkerchiefs

See how these ties and handkerchiefs are color-coordinated? Same theory applies to braces & ties.

Suspenders and ties occupy space in the same visual plane, so your tie should be the primary consideration when selecting suspenders to wear. Thankfully, you can apply the same principles here that you would when coordinating ties and pocket squares: think of each piece as having “major” and “minor” colors, and make the major color of one the minor color of the other. This is a great starting point from which you can branch off.

You can still wear suspenders in the absence of a tie. In these cases, the visual plane is now dominated by your shirt, jacket, and pocket square. Simply use these elements of your outfit as your starting point instead of a tie.

Other Suspender Tips

young boy wearing suspenders

A young boy in 1904. Note the brace buttons on the outside of the waistband.

Wearing braces correctly is more than considering just color and pattern Below are a few additional tips to ensure you look your best in suspenders.

  1. The button holders should match shoes (in most cases). Most braces have leather button holders, and you typically see these in shoe colors you’re familiar with: black, oxblood, and various shades of brown and tan. As you would with a belt, make sure your shoes and brace button holders are at least in the same ballpark, color-wise.
  2. Hardware should match other hardware. If you wear silver jewelry, make the adjusters on your suspenders nickel. If you wear gold, make them gold.
  3. Never wear braces and a belt at the same time. We’ve heard this referred to as “a case of extreme pessimism” and are inclined to agree.
  4. Again, no clip-ons. Yes, we mentioned it above, but it warrants repeating – don’t wear clip-on suspenders. At best, it’s an overly-trendy look. At worst, it appears unserious and clownish. If that’s what you’re going for, have at it, but if not, wear proper braces.
  5. Speaking of brace buttons, the location of those buttons is important. In the early part of the 20th century, brace buttons lived on the outside of trouser waistbands, not inside them as they do now. This is because, at the time, braces were considered underwear, more or less invisible underneath a vest, so placing the buttons outside the waistband made sense. Nowadays, they’re concealed inside the waistband – your tailor should know the precise location for these buttons so the braces hang in the correct place.
  6. Braces look best with dress trousers. Denim and chinos are better paired with belts, while dress trousers’ drape lends itself beautifully to braces.

Conclusion

Curious to learn more about how to coordinate suspenders and ties? Have questions about your wardrobe in general? We’re here to help. Give us a call at 215-310-0219 or email info@henrydavidsen.com to start a conversation.

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