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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Why Do Men Prefer Belts Over Braces?

I have never understood why so few men wear braces or suspenders as some call them. I am fed up with belts. I don't mind a belt with jeans but even then, I would prefer not to wear a belt. I find you have to own at least a dozen belts to work with your trousers, from woven and elasticated rope styled belts for your casual looks to your shiny black leather belt for formal wear. They get fairly manky after consistent use and they tend to wear on your favourite punch whole. More importantly, you start to look pretty ordinary when you have a bit of weight stacked on and your stomach starts to hang over. By contrast if you lose too much weight, then your belt tends to come in too much at the waist line making everyone know you are wearing your 'fat jeans' or 'once were tubby' pants.

A number of years back everybody that was getting into the suit thing and especially advocates of MTM such as the customers of Patrick Johnson all started moving from belt loops to side tabs. This was a good thing. There is something more elegant and flowing about a suit that isn't broken up between the jacket and pants by the presence of a large piece of polished metal in silver or gold backed by shiny leather. Especially when you are attempting to have that muted palette or you subscribe to some sort of Northern Italian industralist or Drakes Of London look, a big shiny thing in the centre is the antithesis of good taste and, to some lesser extent, lets everyone know you buy off the rack. 

There is one last thing I failed to mention about the belts - and that is the Sydney real estate agent. Of course, there is nothing wrong with being a real estate agent, it's just that those that subscribe to this vocation at the early stages tend to be the types that follow marketing and self-improvement gurus and adopt trends like sheep. Thus they find themselves wearing wrap around sunglasses and a big labelled buckle on their belt without ever knowing why. Moving to side tabs was it's own way of separating the sartorial wheat from the chaff, another good thing.

But there is something that side tabs doesn't offer and that is a permanently and consistently held up pants line. In truth, if you stood in the lobby of a Sydney city building and watch the workers of an investment bank go out to lunch the first thing that they do as they exit the elevator is to tidy up their pants or pull on their side tabs. One of the reasons that this occurs is weight fluctuation. Men can add or subtract a kilo or two over the course of a day and it can affect the way their pants are holding up. Whereas a belt give you plenty of room to move up or down on the scale, side tabs don't give you a genuinely flexible way of tightening or loosening your pants, they are, to some extent, there as a dummy for when we miss the real tit.

There is only one alternative that surpasses all other forms of holding your pants up and that is braces. It is for some people too hard to conceive. 'I have to add buttons inside my trousers?' . Well, yes, because clip on braces are to my mind no better than a pre-tied bow tie. I don't mean to get snotty on you, but if you are going to do something, do it properly. Braces are not for the occasional swinger. They are for the committed, they are for the ones that prefer marriage over an affair. You will be going to the tailor, you will be asking he or she to put those braces buttons in and forever and a day when you go to put your suit pants on you will need to fasten them on and unfasten them off when you get home (unless you are lazy and throw them over your valet). 

But like anything that involves commitment, there are gains to be seen that outweigh the cons. Firstly, when you wear your suit jacket, nobody knows you are wearing braces unless they have superman vision. Secondly, when you wear your braces you are also creating a certain kinky second layer to your dress akin to your underwear. Because, once you remove that jacket, goodness knows how you might surprise your colleagues. Thirdly, and this to me is THE most effective reason you should consider moving across, you will very rarely need to manage your shirt meets pants line again. Yes, you may fix yourself up during the day. Yes, you still may find after sitting for an hour in one position that your waist band has curled, but mostly you will feel securely locked into your suit and you will be a helluva lot less fidgety. 

Below you will see my latest addition to my family of braces, a pair of Albert Thurston limited edition silk braces I got from Henry Bucks in O'Connell Street. I do recommend you try them. I do recommend you consider the switch. 


Albert Thurston limited edition woven jacquard silk braces

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