Nicholas Antongiavanni, in his book The Suit, had this to say about the thin strips of silk that hold up a man’s trousers: “There has never been a well dressed man…who has not worn suspenders.”
Oscar Wilde, himself a dandy of no small renown, spoke similarly of the virtues of suspenders (braces in the British parlance) when he decreed that “trousers should hang from the shoulders, not the waist.”
When it comes to business dress, I share their predilection, and so I have all my suit trousers made with suspender buttons and fishtail backs.
Suspenders were added to men’s sartorial repertoire in the early part of the 19th century, when Albert Thurston developed the modern version. The British firm that bears his name makes suspenders to this day.
Among American makers of suspenders, Trafalgar is without peer. Its offerings include solids, stripes, paisleys, dots and checks.
But, in my humble opinion, the apotheosis of Trafalgar’s art can be found in its limited edition braces. They’re made by hand made on 200-year-old wooden looms that Trafalgar founder Marley Hodgson found in the 1970s. According to the company’s website, on these looms “even the most skilled craftsmen can only weave five yards of narrow silk fabric a day.”
I have a pair from the limited edition series with a vintage golf motif. Originally, suspenders were considered undergarments, to be concealed underneath a gentleman’s waistcoat. But these are not meant to hide their light under a bushel basket. With a vibrant pattern and whimsical design, they are made to be seen.