Once upon a time, braces and belts were a purely practical tool. They were invented simply to hold a man’s trousers up. Today, men’s fashion is a wide and varied domain and these accessories have become less about trouser security and more about style. As specialists in premium men’s fashion, we think a well tailored suit is a must, but the question is - should you accessorise with a belt or braces?
Firstly, let’s be clear that you shouldn’t need either. With bespoke men’s tailoring available, there should be no excuse for ill-fitting trousers. If, however, you haven’t yet invested in the perfect pair and are approaching the ‘belt or braces’ question from a purely practical perspective, you will find that braces (or ‘suspenders’ if you’re from the US) hold up your trousers most efficiently. Braces also avoid an unsightly waistband bulge, occurring when a belt is buckled tighter than the trousers.
From a perspective of style, braces do offer a classic, timeless feel. When worn with a traditional black and white dinner suit, braces can even have an air of ‘007’ about them. Equally, when coordinated correctly, a coloured bow tie and braces combination can have a pleasing eccentricity. Having said this, unless you’re an expert on colour coordination, it is usually safest to choose one bold accessory and let the rest of your outfit be a canvas.
Colour is an equally important consideration when opting for a belt. Black, charcoal or brown are popular choices, and you should make this decision based on the colour of your suit. Most importantly, make sure your belt matches your shoes. If you want to go a step further, match your bag and gloves to your belt as well.
Finally, take your surroundings into account. If you’re at work, does your company have rules about office suit wear? If you’re attending a wedding, are you required to coordinate your outfit with the groom’s wedding suit? If you’re at all unsure, a nicely coordinated belt is your safer option. If you’re a gentleman of some experience, however, why not opt for the braces to add some flair, and embrace the attention you’re sure to receive.