Brace Yourself like a Man
December 11th, 2010
A very underrated, and misunderstood, accessory that I seem to be wearing more than usual lately: braces.
Braces. Not suspenders.
These words are often interchanged and, to many, they can mean the same thing. To some more traditional retailers, however, suspenders clip-on to pants with metal clasps, while braces are equipped with button fasteners.
Braces are also typically more luxurious; made of quality satin, silk, leather or grosgrain with genuine hardware and authentic leather or braided cotton fasteners. They are made by companies like Trafalgar and Bentley Cravats (the only remaining suspender factory in NYC). Suspenders, on the other hand, are often skinny, synthetic, have basic metal clips and can be picked up at trendy stores like American Apparel for $10.
Here, three different looks to help you brace like a man – along with their corresponding “inspirations”.
1. Great-Depression-Era NYC
Thin, genuine leather braces, like these 1″ vintage leather versions, are a great way to channel James Braddock rather than Steve Urkel.
It’s kind of interesting that, worn a specific way, braces can actually make you look tougher (rather than nerdier). Who would have thought?
Bonus tip: when your jeans stretch out in the waist (they all do eventually) to the point that they are buckling between belt loops, rather than washing them to shrink them down (over-washing can rush the organic aging process of denim) sew some suspender buttons on the inside waistband and let them “float”. It costs $3 and takes 15 minutes.
2. Corporate Bad-Ass
A sharp, dark, minimal suit with suspenders of matching color is a great way to channel new-age Gordon Gekko rather than and old-age Larry King.
Consistent metals, a worsted wool tie and black leathers help give the “corporate bad-ass”, “getting-shit-done”, “boss-at-a-youg-age” vibe.
Bonus tip: pink shirts, like white jeans, when styled correctly and anchored with darker pieces can make a very suave transition from warm weather to cold.
- Watch by Montblanc Timewalker Automatic
- Silver 2″ tie bar by Tiffany & Co
- Nato Striped grosgrain watch strap by Corvus
- Pink micro-check shirt
- Midnight navy braces by Trafalgar
- Midnight navy tailored jacket (part of suit)
- Midnight navy trousers (part of suit)
- Grey flannel chalkstripe tie
- Black leather/suede spectator wingtip shoes by Barker Black
3. Classic Americana
Although my style is influenced from all over the place, there will always be something about the Americana image that speaks to me. America really is the land of opportunity, I am proud to be a part of it and call myself a New Yorker.
It doesn’t get much more staple American than worn-in khaki chinos, blue bengal stripe shirts, cordovan tassel loafers, leather duffle bags, and rep stripe braces.
The beauty of this look, as I’ve said before (here): if this photo were black & white, it would be hard to tell which decade it was taken (based on the outfit). This is an example of timeless/classic style. Pieces with historical references that have “stood the test of time” provide a necessary foundation for menswear.
Bonus tip: if you’re going for the true Americana look, it’s probably best to do it with brands that are American (and even more preferably, manufacture in America as well).
Thanks for reading.
Yours in style,