The Dos and Don’ts of Wearing Suspenders The Dapper Way

Ed Ruiz

11 September 2017

Suspenders are a special thing, aren’t they?

I seriously love them and my love for them only increases when I see them worn correctly.

But there’s always a yan to the ying, and I can’t help but cringe when I see someone disrespecting the elegance of this garment.

So here’s my question to you: On which end of the spectrum does your approach to suspenders fall? Do you side with those who elevate their style with suspenders or with those who are better off just sticking with belts?

The Dos and Donts of Wearing Suspenders

I can hardly think of a piece of clothing that beats suspenders in the level of dapperness they can add to any suit and tie ensemble.

You know, the moment a man makes the conscious decision to add suspenders to their regular dressed up outfits, there is no turning back.

That good man’s dapperness has just leveled up.

It is no surprise then that many dapper dressers out there have begun ditching the belt and embracing suspenders as their go-to garment to keep their pants up in place.

If this sounds like you, congratulations. You are making a wise decision.

But there are a few things you need to know so that you can be sure you are wearing your suspenders the right way and avoiding the most common and terrible newbie pitfalls.

Grab a piece of paper cause we’ll get to the nitty-gritty of this.

The Dos And Don’ts of Wearing Suspenders

DON’T wear a belt – If you’ll get something wrong about wearing suspenders, please please please don’t let it be this one. If you wear suspenders then you do not wear a belt – end of story. This is one of the most cringeworthy suit and tie crimes any man could commit.

DO prepare your pants for suspenders – Wearing suspenders requires more effort (at least initially) than wearing belts, including preparing all your pants for the big change. For a complete list of instructions on how to prepare your pants for suspenders stay tuned in the next weeks for a full guide to be posted as a separate article. 😉

DON’T let them just hang on the sides – I am assuming you’re not a punk nor are you 15. And even if you were any of those two things (or both at once), there is really no excuse to pretend you’re edgy by wearing your suspenders like that. The same applies for any other crazy variation you could think of.

DO wear them over your shoulders – Yes, this is the right way you should wear them. Period.

DON’T wear the clips and loops at the same time – Many suspenders come with both clips and leather loops that allow the wearer to choose the style he prefers, this type of suspenders are called convertible suspenders. So make a choice, which one will it be? Loops or clips? Made your choice now? Cool, now remove the unneeded option and don’t attempt to wear the suspenders with both the clips and loops attached to the straps. Trust me, I’ve seen this atrocity and once you’ve seen it, it cannot be unseen! (Member of my exclusive menswear Facebook group “Dressing Up in a Dress Down World” can attest to this claim).

DO favor loop suspenders – When faced with the choice to pick either loop suspenders or clip-on suspenders, always go with the former. Loop suspenders look cleaner and they won’t damage your waistband the way clip-on suspenders tend to do.

A lesson in wearing loop suspenders the right way by Dan Newman

DON’T wear them with casual pants – If you’re trying to dress up a nice pair of jeans, don’t fall for the trap and think that by wearing your dressy suspenders with them will do the trick. It won’t. Stick to the good old belt when dressing up your casual looks.

DO have fun with materials, colors and patterns – Instead of attempting an exact match with your other accessories likes ties or pocket squares (and you know how strongly I feel about matching sets of accessories), why not take advantage of the different matching options you could have by choosing different colors and patterns that complement the rest of your outfit? You can have a field day exploring all the possibilities.

DON’T wear super thin or wide suspenders – Extremely wide suspenders are not meant to be worn in any formal settings and even though skinny suspenders are often associated with some arguably questionable subcultures, that is not the reason why you’re better off avoiding them. The truth is, skinny suspenders or very wide suspenders just don’t carry the same level of elegance as those in the mid-range. Here’s an easy rule of thumb: anything from 1 1/4 inches to 1 3/8 inches wide will be good for your dapper styles, but don’t fail to take into consideration your own body type.

Choose mid-width suspenders for an elegant and stylish look.

DO adjust the straps to your height – Most suspenders will come with adjustable straps so that they can be adapted to different heights. One could think this is too obvious to be mentioned, but again, I’ve seen a few men who either don’t adjust their straps or they adjust them to an incorrect height.

DON’T think they’re underwear – A long, long time ago suspenders were considered underwear and it was met with strict disapproval to let them be seen in public. Well, times have changed, my friend. Hell, even some men have no problem showing their actual underwear outside these days, so even the most purist of all sartorialists would cut you some slack.

DO wear them with confidence – Having settled that it’s perfectly acceptable to show your suspenders and being aware of how wearing a suit can increase your confidence, why not be proud of being a suspenders-wearing gentleman? Just asking. If you have taken all the steps to choose a nice style of suspenders and wear them the proper way, why not show them off? Take off that jacket and impress the world!

Your Dos & Don’ts

Did I miss any dos or any don’ts on this list? Let me know if the comments section below.

Also, I’d love to know what has been the worst offending error you have ever seen on a man wearing suspenders? What’s that annoying pet peeve you can’t just forgive? Don’t keep it to yourself and share it below.


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