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It’s one of menswear’s most uncomfortable truths: you’ve got to keep your pants on somehow.

And when it really comes down to it, suspenders are not only the more elegant choice—compared to cinching a strap of leather around your waist and hoping for the best—but also the more practical one, by taking the unique contours of your waistline out of the equation. But like all sartorial unknowns, there are rules to live by. Rules we’ve put together in this handy guide:

The 10 Commandments of Suspenders.

1. Thou Shall Call Them Braces. In the company of Brits, older gents and bloggerly trads. Otherwise, call them suspenders, or don’t mention them at all and just let them do their job.

2. Thou Ought to Opt for Button Fasteners. If you’re going for it, you might as well do it right and find some pants with buttons instead of belt loops. Or you might want to talk to a trusted tailor.

3. But Thou May Clip-On. This isn’t a bow tie—you should know how to tie one of those—and pants with buttons to fasten your old-fashioned braces are very hard to come by these days. Just make sure to heed the next commandment.

4. Thou Shall Not “Urkel.” If you’re wearing suspenders, especially clip-ons, there’s no need to advertise it. You can easily hide them by wearing a waistcoat, a cardigan or a jacket over them.

5. Speaketh of Urkel… Don’t wear suspenders with jeans either.

6. It Is About Thy Pants, Not Thy Suspenders. There’s a fine line between dandy affectation and honest-to-God utility. You’re wearing these to keep your pants up, not play the off-Broadway version of Gordon Gekko. Or bartend in a Prohibition-era speakeasy (so, you know, lose the handlebar mustache).

7. Thy Tailor Is Thy Friend. If there’s something you’re unsure about, trust someone who knows what they’re doing and you’ll be in good shape.

8. Thou Put Thy Braces on One Shoulder at a Time, Just Like Everybody Else. This isn’t so much a rule about wearing suspenders as it is a metaphor for being considerate to others in your daily life.

9. Thou May Go Full-Connery. Go ahead, get tweedy.

10. But Not This Connery:
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—N.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Najib Benouar