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:
Sure, suspenders have been living a pretty quiet existence since their last heyday in the Gekko era, but every so often, in the more tweedy corners of menswear, you’ll still find trousers with a few well-placed buttons where belt loops would be.
And if you happen to have a pair, here’s your chance to strap in. Or if you’re just considering dipping your toes, they’ve got a few clip-on options too—which are a bit more acceptable than a clip-on would be in, say, the bow tie world. (You ought to be wearing a cardigan or blazer over them anyway.)
BlackBook just snagged a few black-and-white shots from the set of Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master—and by the looks of things, they’re in full-on gray flannel suit territory. The ’50s are coming, gentlemen.
When you’re at your own gallery show, you owe it to the world to get a little bit outlandish. For instance, it’s just about the only circumstances under which we’d accept a leather hat.
The gentleman in question is Allen Grubesic (that’s him in the beard), at his first solo exhibition in New York on Friday. Fortunately, he celebrated the occasion with some trim-cut pastel khakis, an invisi-tie and a gnomic beard—which is more or less the way we want our conceptual artists to look.
The suspenders are impressive enough, but we’d direct your attention to the gentleman’s pant cuffs. A preppier man would have cuffed them, maybe even showing a little sock, but Grubesic doesn’t bother. Consider this an early warning: the era of the summer roll may be drawing to a close.
We’ve been gaining sympathy for this position for quite some time. Our newfound suspender love is part of it, but even the more handsome belts these days have been slimming down to razor-thin proportions as a semi-apologetic sign that well, maybe you’re better off with less belt in your life. The truth is, you probably are. Your pants will drape better and, if you buy with an eye to beltlessness, fit better. That doesn’t mean the belt’s going to become a faux pas any time soon, but if you’ve got the chance to go without, you should. Yes, even with a suit.
Clearly, in a maximally elegant world, we’d all have suspender buttons and use the fancy kind of shoulder strapping, but there’s no shame in something a little quicker. For one thing, finding a pair of trousers with the right buttons takes some serious searching. For another, you won’t be wearing these out in the open anyway: You’ll have a cardigan or blazer on to keep things proper. True, it’s a little more laddish than the buttoned-down style—but that's not such a bad thing.
This one has been building steam for a while (exhibits A and B), so we’re hesitant to call it a trend, so instead we’ll put it this way: You should think about wearing suspenders.
Slip a pair on next time you doff a jacket and you might be shocked to find your pants draping a whole lot better, and avoiding the cinch-and-billow look that plagues the belted trouser. You can take off the jacket for a more adventurous look—joining the trads, the Americanists and the tie revivalists all at once—or keep it on and enjoy the benefits in relative secrecy.
It can still be hard to find a good pair, but we recommend these from Alexander Olch, which you might have seen at a shop or two recently, or trying the vintage route. One advantage of picking up the trend on the early side: you’ll have plenty to choose from.
We ran across this Ronson-esque Swedish fellow on Lookbook and we have to saw, he’s raised our opinion of the entire country. Maybe it’s the suit, but we’re suddenly warming to the idea of suspenders too.