Chances are, if you live in the northern hemisphere and left your house today, you did so wearing pants – at least we hope that’s the case – we also hope that you held them up, relying on more than just your hips for support. For most gents, whether wearing jeans, dress trousers, chinos, cargos, or cords, their go-to pant-bearing accessory is the belt.
In the 1920s, as trouser waists fell to a lower line, the belt subsequently climbed to pant suspension supremacy. Today, the majority of pants, from casual to dress, include belt loops- but for those of you who are struggling to finding the perfect belt to match your fresh new kicks, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite belt alternatives, with some bonus styling tips to make sure you’re pulling them off with ease. Follow these rules, and as always, don’t be afraid to add your own touch to each- after all, style is personal.
Suspenders, also referred to as braces, are fabric or leather straps that are worn over the shoulders, and attach to the wearer’s waistband with built-in clasp-grip fastenings, or more traditionally, suspender buttons sewn to the inside of the waistband.
Suspenders have faded in and out of style over the last century, but have made a return as a practical means of holding up one’s trousers.
How to wear them
Suspenders should always be worn over a base layer such as a dress shirt, but can be concealed under a waistcoat, jacket, or knit. If you choose to leave your suspenders exposed, wearing them over a dress shirt, we advise that you opt for suspender buttons, rather than the clasp-grip alternative. This will give your look a classic appeal and will prevent damage to your waistband.
Also try going with a colour that complements your outfit. Solids or simple, thick stripes are recommended, as adding bold patterns may add unnecessary flair.
*Disclaimer: Never, under any circumstances, should you wear suspenders with a belt, or with pants that also have belt loops. Doing so is an obvious redundancy and a major menswear faux-pas.
Side tabs are small waistband attachments that can tighten or loosen to a desired fit. They are made from the same fabric as the trousers they’re attached to, with a discrete configuration on either side of the waistband; this creates a streamlined, minimalistic look, contrary to that of a belt.
How to wear them
Side tab trousers can be worn like any other dress trousers, you’ll just need to make sure that they’re well-tailored and fit snug around your waist- especially if you plan on wearing them without any additional support. For extra security, try combining side tabs with suspenders; this will allow you to control how tight and how high your pants sit, with ease.
Yes, you read that correctly- at an intersection between comfort and style, exists a near-perfect pant. Elastic waistbands are a great way to stay relaxed, whether you’re at the office, or dining out; especially when copious food consumption is in the forecast.
How to wear them
The trick with elastic waistbands, is actually concealing the fact that your pants have an elastic waist; this can be done in a number of ways. For a simple elastic waistband, wear a waistcoat or vest that covers the waistline. For the drawstring alternative, try a longer knit. This will ensure that your waistband wizardry is known only to you; after all, a good magician never reveals their tricks.
Despite their popularity, belts can pose a number of style conflicts if not worn properly. If you remain a belt loyalist, make sure that your pants fit, and that your shoes are the appropriate colour to match. Avoid ostentatious buckles and studs, and never wear a belt with suspenders.
You’re now equipped with the information necessary to hold up your pants in style. If you’re looking for a fresh take on pant suspension, try the alternatives and tips above. As always, adapt with confidence, and you’ll be looking sharper and feeling better than ever.