This post was written by Lindy Dandy.
The terms suspenders and braces are technically interchangeable, but I tend to use suspenders to refer to the type with alligator clip ends and braces for the type that require buttons. Clips damage pants, so I always go with the button type. Whatever you call them, they’re used to suspend your trousers at waist height. Unlike belts, braces don’t have to be cinched tightly around your waist to keep your trousers in place and in fact, allow them to drape more gracefully.
Trousers worn with braces should be cut more generously in the waist (at least an inch) so the braces can be allowed to hold them up (so if you’re pants hold themselves up, they’re too tight for braces). If your trousers do not have brace buttons, it’s a simple job for a tailor: you’ll need one set of buttons in the back and two in the front, either on the inside or outside (your choice).
Back in the day, you’d never see a gentleman without his jacket on, so you’d never see his braces (or know if he buttoned them on the outside or inside). Braces were a man’s inside joke, they could have the silliest, most ostentatious designs in the world, but it didn’t matter because nobody would ever see them. Things are different, nowadays; seeing a man without a jacket is common (and it’s too darn hot to keep a jacket on all night), so you better be ready to show your braces off.
The finest braces in the world are made in the UK by Albert Thurston and Trafalgar. Albert Thurston (my preferred brand) has been making braces since 1820. They’ve been worn by princes, kings and businessmen for the last two centuries and have even been featured in Bond movies. Fine braces do not come cheap. Trafalgar Limited Edition braces (made of %100 hand-woven silk) cost as much as $195 for the full retail price. Albert Thurston braces hover around the $70-$80 range. The gems below come from an estate sale on eBay by micandgeo. (I was very tempted to bid on several of these for myself).
For the record, I have nothing against firemen (heck, I’m friends with a fireman).