Brace Yourself For Some Fashionable Support
Braces (English) or Suspenders (American English) are fabric or leather straps that are fabric or leather straps that are worn over the shoulders to hold up trousers. These straps can be elasticated (entirely or at the attachment end) and most of these straps are of a woven cloth forming into an X or Y shape at the back. Braces are typically attached to the trousers with buttons (using leather tabs at the ends) or clips.
Braces should be finished with the traditional button fastenings, not the clips! A true gentleman would never wear clipped braces; it’s simply not the done thing (The Gentleman’s Guide To Dressing)
There have been several predecessors to braces (or suspenders) during the past the past 300 years. The type that we know and use so much today (thanks to the resurgence of the Hipster) are known as the ‘modern type’ and were invented in 1820 by Albert Thurston. Braces were worn almost universally quite simply because of the high cut of mid-nineteenth and early twentieth century trousers, these made wearing a belt uncomfortable, impractical and unstylish.
During the nineteenth century, braces were sometimes called gallouses. It was Samuel Clemens who patented “Adjustable and Detachable Straps for Garments,” becoming one of the first to receive a United States patent for (suspenders / braces) in 1871. After losing popularity during the first world war, as men became accustomed to uniform belts, braces were still regular attire throughout the 1920’s. Because of their image as ‘underwear’, some men switched to belts during the 1930’s as the waistcoats which had hidden braces became worn less. This also heralded the switch of position of the securing buttons from outside of the waistband to the inside.
GQ magazine stated in 1938 that 60% of men chose belts over braces. Though the return of fuller-cut trousers in the 1940’s revived braces, they did not dominate over belts again to the same extent, however in the UK they remained the norm to wear with suits and dress trousers, right up until today where they are still the darling of the ‘Saville Row’ set as well as those Hipsters.