Traditional braces via Albert Thurston
I happen to wear braces, of the clip-on variety, from time to time with my trousers, far preferring them to the rather haphazard accessory that is the belt. Traditionally speaking, a man's clothing ought hang from the shoulders, forming a line downwards, albeit with the preferred nipping in of the jacket around the waist. The trousers ought sit comfortably at the natural waist line (that being the slenderest part of the torso), and be held up, if required by braces. The benefit of the braces are that the trouser hangs in the most preferable way, especially when worn with a suit.
The advent of the belt was such that it changed the way in which men wore their trousers. The trouser moved down from the waist to just above, or indeed riding, the hips. This was the far more comfortable position when wearing a belt as the belt avoided digging uncomfortably into the gut, rather being tightened below. However the belt has a tendency to interrupt the fall of the trousers, often requiring a re-hitching of the trousers, or else creating an odd bagging unless the rise of the trouser is perfectly cut to the individual. Of course this primarily applies to suit trousers, for denim jeans and casual trousers have perhaps evolved into a world of their own.
Braces allow one to wear trousers at their natural position, whilst also being far more comfortable in movement and usage than the restrictive belt. However as trousers have progressed further down the human body, and the popularity of the belt risen, braces have been adapted and changed for those still yearning for the traditional. I speak of course of the clip-on braces, which are but a mere imitation of their proper father, buttoned braces. Unfortunately buttoned braces are somewhat more than marginalised in their usage given that trousers rarely, if ever, are sold today with the required buttons sewn into their waistband.
In order to wear braces, one requires buttons sewn into the waistband of one's trousers. Depending on the type of trousers, they can be both sewn outside or inside of the waistband. The fishtail back is perhaps the most recognisable style in the usage of braces, where, essentially, an additional waistband was added to the main in order to accommodate two higher buttons at the back.
Nowadays trousers in this style seem to exist only in vintage reproductions or confined to those customers still asking for them in Savile Row. As such, the clip on brace is far more abundant, and indeed has seen a minor revival these past few years with a more casual and youthful twist. The problem with this type of braces lie in their method of wearing, in that they pinch the fabric of one's trousers and can actually damage it over time.
Personally speaking, I am not quite in the position to be able to walk into a Savile Row establishment and ask for a formal suit with fishtail back trousers for wearing with braces. Yet, buttoned braces also happen to appeal to me from their more casual application with sportswear (or casual/country wear I suppose it would be called now).
Image above via The Fedora Lounge
High Rise trousers
via Old Town Clothing
via Old Town Clothing
I am rather attracted to the idea of wearing trousers of tweeds, flannels, corduroys and wools with traditional buttoned braces. Although they may not be all that fashionable, I think they are a part of masculine dress history that is far too special to be forgotten any time soon. It may be difficult for me to procure a pair now, but one day...
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