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Suspenders with Suits

From Wall Street to James Bond: Suspenders All the Way

Michael Douglas may have been the star of the hit movie “Wall Street” but let’s face. It was his suspenders which stole the show. Although the fashion world has not seen this signature accessory for quite some time, it has made several comebacks in recent decades. Most notable was when Douglas’ character, Gordon Gekko, showed up on screen wearing them with a pin striped blue shirt in Wall Street. Even before Michael Douglas uttered one line, we knew what he was all about; his clothes spoke for him:  Successful, powerful, and super ambitious. The combed back hair and those suspenders made fashion history.

Call it what you want – suspenders or braces (English version), suspenders and fashion have had an interesting history together. Although suspenders were seen in various forms for several centuries, it was not until Albert Thurston made it official by creating them in 1820. Initially, these were used more for functionality than a fashion accessory. Back then, high cut pants made wearing a belt difficult so suspender was an easy alternative.

Notable figures began to wear them thus increasing their popularity. When intellects such as Mark Twain and businessmen donned them, they were soon regarded as the accessory of the educated and successful. Hollywood also aided in their popularity. The Rat Pack often wore them as did Cary Grant and Gregory Peck. When the seventies and eighties came along, however, sales of suspender decreased as belts took over and jackets and blazers tended to cover them, making suspenders pointless to wear. Suddenly, they were forgotten albeit an occasional sighting on Mick Jagger, James Bond in Skyfall, or Larry King’s trademark look.

Then Wall Street came along, and Michael Douglas made it the look of the super successful. Suspender was now associated with power. Since then, suspenders have made a small comeback. They are statement pieces that can change the mood of an outfit and give it character.

Today, men are discovering the versatility of suspenders as they can look great for almost any occasion. Black suspender make an outfit elegant for a night out or a business meeting while green or brown colored suspenders look great on a date, and can give a man a vintage (Brideshead Revisited), artsy look. While black and brown are the most widely used colors, today these classy accessory come in a variety of colors and can spice up any outfit. You can wear a blue stripped suspender with a gray dress shirt and a pair of jeans for example.

Although there are no general rules on how to wear suspender, keep in mind a few things: Thin suspenders may make you look bigger and vice versa. Second, in general, don’t wear suspenders with belts. And finally, if you are going to wear these without a shirt, just keep in mind, no matter what, people will think Chippendales.

Michael Snell

Loving father and husband