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What Are English Side Straps?

The devil is in the details, they say. In the world of custom clothing, this expression rings true and clear. From the accuracy of measurements to making sure that every last bit of design is to the client’s liking, an eye for detail is crucial. Such design details are possible even on trouser waistbands, so today we’d like to talk about English side straps.

Custom Pant Waistbands – English Side Straps

custom pants with english side strapsSo, what are English side straps? Simply put, they’re adjusters put on the outside of pant waistbands in lieu of belt loops. Made of self-fabric (that is, the same as the pants themselves) and utilizing a metal square adjuster, they allow the wearer to incrementally adjust the fit of his pant waist.

It’s a classic menswear look, but also somewhat rare. Pants with English side straps comprise maybe 5% of all the trousers we make, so if you’re a guy looking for something unique but not loud, you should consider this detail on your next pair of pants.

Side Straps, Belt Loops, & Suspenders

flannel custom pants with side straps
Single forward-pleated trousers with English side straps.

Again, English side straps are used in lieu of belt loops. This has implications for whether or not you should wear suspenders (braces) with them or not.

Purists abide by the rule that suspenders should only be worn with pants that don’t have belt loops. The logic is that the waistband will look empty, as if the wearer forgot to put a belt on. We don’t necessarily take this as gospel; we make lots of trousers with both belt loops and suspender buttons inside the waist, after all. Still, it’s something you should be aware of, if for no other reason than, well, awareness.

This lack of belt loops, therefore, makes pants with English side straps a natural fit to wear with suspenders.

Who Should Wear Pants With Side Straps?

Who should or shouldn’t wear pants with side straps (or belt loops, for that matter) should be a function of the wearer’s build. Specifically, will you benefit from a horizontal line across your middle or not?Despite the ubiquity of belts since the end of the second World War regardless of body type, this is still an important question to answer.

Short and/or Stout

Men who are short or overweight (or both) benefit would do well to avoid belts. From a height perspective, the horizontal line cuts you in half, reinforcing your short stature. From a weight perspective, the horizontal line accentuates your middle, which is undesirable in the case of a larger guy. Pants with English side straps eliminate this horizontal line, which is beneficial.

A pair of braces (and the proper pants to put them on) has the opposite effect, elongating the short man and slimming the large man by adding two vertical lines that draw the eye upward.

Tall & Slim

The reverse holds true for tall men. Tall guys benefit from wearing belts specifically because the horizontal line doesn’t accentuate their height. Suspenders, on the other hand, will serve to lengthen a tall guy, making him appear even taller. Pants with English side adjusters split the difference nicely – they look sleek, and while they won’t counteract height, they won’t make you look taller, either.


custom plaid trousers with side strapsReady to talk about some unique trousers? We’re here to help. Give us a call at 215-310-0219 or email info@henrydavidsen.com to start a conversation. Until then, enjoy these other articles:

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