One of the oldest ways to hold up men’s pants was to use a cinch (drawstring) or suspenders (called braces in UK). Since the 16th century they have been a part of men’s attire. According to Truewest magazine, during the Civil War belt loops were an occasional part of the uniform and around 1857 were seen on baseball uniforms- but were slow to catch on. Some said the hot summer of 1893 inspired men to give up their suspenders and use belts.
According to Ecosalon the fashion website, around 1850 belts made it to women’s apparel as a decorative element. However, the dropped waist in flapper dresses in the roaring 20s did away with belts, but not for long. Since the 1930s women started to wear pants and women’s belts were back in play. In the 50s, skinny belts adorned prim and proper ladies but soon after belts became a sign of individual taste and at times panache.
Levi Strauss put belt loops on their 501 jeans in 1922, but the iconic pants still were equipped with buttons for suspenders and a cinch for those who didn’t want to part with their traditional ways. In 1937 the buttons were taken off the Levi jeans, and users of suspenders had the option of press-on buttons.
For men’s suits, suspenders are still a thing. The advantages are that they need not match the leather of the shoes, and that pleated pants fall differently as a person moves and do not bunch up. Belts on the other hand are not likely to be snagged or hooked, as well as are easier to maneuver while undressing.
The buttons sown on pants for suspenders are still a better option for elegant pants as the fabric may be damaged by a frequent use of clips to affix the suspenders. Suspenders have also become useful accessories for certain professions and activities (tool belt users, winter sports enthusiasts). They can be an element for a fashion statement or simply an expression of interests or to indicate membership in a team.
Two Chicks Conspiracy has catered to belt users of all ages and genders by creating designer custom printed belts, but we are planning to expand our offering soon to include suspenders, especially for ski and snowboard pants.