Attire: Belts or Suspenders

After a brief pause in writing, due to midterms, we’re back!

So, you’re suited up, looking sharp for a day at work, or a night on the town: but how to keep those pants up? A belt or suspenders? Good question, and the answer depends on a variety of factors, such as the event type, time, attire, and  your general style.

First a few quick notes:

  1. A belt and suspenders should never be worn at the same time. There’s an old saying: “he’s a belt and suspenders kind of guy.”  Meaning, a man is so paranoid that his belt will fail, that he wears suspenders, just in case. It speaks of a man who refuses to take risks, for fear of embarrassment or exposure. It’s not a flattering metaphor, and an image you want to avoid.
  2. A lawyer once told me that if you’re going to wear suspenders, don’t do so with pants that have belt loops. The loops draw an observer’s eye, and it is more obvious that you’re not wearing a belt. So, if you’re going to do suspenders, have a tailor remove the belt loops. This isn’t true at all times: for instance, if you’re not going to take off your jacket, no one will see belt loops. However, if you’re going to make suspenders a regular part of your suit, you may want to remove those loops.
  3. No matter which you choose, belt or suspenders, make sure they match. Make sure your belt matches your shoes. With suspenders, make sure the leather ends (where they attach to your pants), match your shoes. Also, with suspenders, make sure the color matches your tie, shirt, or other color you’re wearing.

Now, which to wear? Generally for professional events (work, interview, career-related cocktail party or networking function), I would suggest a belt. Unless you’re over 40 years old, suspenders may look out of place. The belt is more appropriate for these types of events. That being said, if you’ve got the suit for it, and the sense of style – do it! I’m all for bringing back suspenders.

But suspenders can be worn in other places. When attending events where you can play with fashion, rock those suspenders, if you so wish: weddings, formal or semi-formal social events. Not only that, as you can see in some of these photos, suspenders can be worn in casual attire as well, for the truly dapper look (or Larry King – if that’s you’re style).

There are two types of suspenders: formal and working. Formal suspenders have button holes and attach to buttons inside your pants. Formal suspenders will need pants with suspender buttons (which can be sewn in by a tailor). These suspenders are appropriate for formal or professional wear. The ends of formal suspenders are shaped like a “Y” and made of leather (that should match your shoes, as previously mentioned). Working suspenders have clips (or alligator claws), which can be attached to the waistband of your pants. Working suspenders are appropriate for semi-formal or casual wear.

No matter how you decide to wear them, I say wear them with pride! Suspenders are a dapper, fashion forward accessory that I wish were more common. Help me out guys, and bring them back!

Considerations for Transmen

One downside for transmen with suspenders: if you haven’t had top surgery, suspenders may accentuate your chest. If that is a concern for you, I suggest sticking to belts for now. Also, suspenders come in a variety of colors and patterns. If you don’t want to accentuate your chest, stick to solid colors; patterns will draw attention and highlight any swell in your chest. Lastly, if you’re not very broad in the shoulders, make sure to get thinner suspenders, as opposed to the thicker width.

Thanks for reading everyone! Now that midterms are over, I’ll be posting more often. And please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Cheers – Mason

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About Mason

Mason is a Trans-identified, Jewish, lawyer, living in Northern New England. Born and raised in Orange County, California, Mason never felt like he fit into the feminine roles he was expected to embrace. He came out as Trans in 2005, and began transitioning from female-to-male in May 2011. Mason graduated from Western Oregon University in 2007 with a degree in Criminal Justice, before moving to the East Coast. In 2008, Mason married his wife, Lauren, in Massachusetts. Prior to law school, Mason worked in criminal justice and served as a director with TransMentors International Inc. In 2009, Mason began law school, where he has been awarded the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship and a Public Interest Coalition Fellowship for his work in gender diversity education. Currently, Mason works with the New Hampshire Coalition for Transgender Equality, and lectures in the New England region about Trans identities, rights, and awareness.

Posted on March 8, 2012, in Attire, Careers, Etiquette and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Suspenders look pretty slick I think!!

  2. great useful information. i’m consider braces for less stress around my bad back. so now i can shop with confidence in terms of my approach in style. thanks again!

  3. “Attire: Belts or Suspenders The Gentleman’s Primer” ended up being a wonderful article. If solely there was way more sites such as this one in the actual word wide web. Nonetheless, many thanks for ur precious time, Candice

  4. I actually wish to bookmark this specific blog post, “Attire: Belts or Suspenders |
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  5. Hi Dear, are you truly visiting this site daily, if so then
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  6. Thank you for adding the last section on working suspenders into a transman’s wardrobe. It was a pleasant surprise and a nice change from the usual trans fashion advice, “Buy plaid, it’ll distract from your body. Wear layers until you have no shape at all.”

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