Most men in the world today wear a belt. I guess it is common to use a belt to hold your trousers up. But at one time this was not so common.
I have always loved suspenders (also called “braces” in some countries). I remember wearing them when I was a kid and my little lovers laughing whilst pulling the strips. This melancholy is part of the past.
The success of suspenders was tightly linked to the evolution of “fashionism” across the centuries.
The first suspenders were created in the 18th century in France. They were made of strips of ribbon attached to the button holes on trousers. Benjamin Franklin is said to have worn them and even introduced them to the uniform of the Fire Department Philadelphia in 1736.
Back then, suspenders were considered an undergarment never to be seen in public. It is also said that visible suspenders were considered “risqué” until 1938 and the city of Long Island (New York) even tried to ban people from wearing them without a coat, calling it “sartorial indecency”.
In the early 1820s, a British designed the first known modern suspenders, Albert Thurston, who manufactured them with leather loops. They were originally destined to Kings and Princes.
At that time, gentlemen had to wear high –waisted pants, which prevent from wearing a belt.
The first model was made up of tightly woven wool (known as “boxcloth”) and attached as an H-back. This model was later replaced by X-back and Y-back, which are mostly used today.
In 1851, Albert Thurston received a honourable mention for the excellent standard of its products.
In 1871, the first American suspenders patent was released in by Samuel Clemens a.k.a. Mark Twain): “Adjustable and Detachable Straps for Garment”. Mark Twain’s patent was for suspenders to be used not only with underpants but also with women’s corsets. However, over the decades, this clever invention only caught for one snug garment: the bra.
The famous metals clasps were invented in 1894 to be clipped and make it easier, especially with the boom in popularity with Denim Jeans.
The benefits of the suspenders were also highly recommended by doctors in the early 1900s for the patients with big bellies when lower-sitting pants no longer required them. However, at that time, suspenders were worn by working people, the elite wearing tailored trousers and fashion belts.
In the 1960s, the British skinheads for their look adopted suspenders.
In 1987, Golden Boys from Wall Street adopted the suspenders, as a result of the success of Oliver Stone’s movie (Wall Street) in which Gordon Gekko (aka Michael Douglas) suddenly becomes the image of men’s elegance.
During the 1990s, suspenders lost success, perhaps due to the nerd style given by Steve Urkel from the US TV sitcom Family Matters.
Since the 2000s, in a fashion world driven by the fascination and pursuit of originality, suspenders have been approached as a fashion accessory. This accessory initially destined to Kings and Princes is now adopted by young fashionistas from big cities.
The suspenders have their advantages that no one should ignore. First of all, they are more comfortable to wear than a belt as they can be tightened and loosened to get a comfortable feel. In addition, the trousers can be worn higher instead of putting the belt under the stomach. As a matter of style, they will also keep the trousers buttons aligned with the shirt buttons.
Churchill said, “Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it”.
Giving up suspenders was a mistake and let’s hopes that they will now be seen and used as an art of elegance from young and professional people.
Written by Slim – a.k.a. Salim Biskri