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To brace or not to brace

Men’s braces, also known as suspenders or bracers, were originally used in lieu of a belt to keep trousers up. Invented in 1820 by Albert Thurston, they have never really gone completely out style, and now more than ever fashion-savvy gents who like to experiment with their style can turn to these versatile accessories to add a unique twist to their look. Are they right for you? To brace or not brace? That is the question.

Brace straps are normally worn straight down either side of your front, with a cross or a Y-shape at the back or they can simply run straight up and down as they do at the front. Taller, slimmer gents will find that the cross or Y-shape braces will suit their physique best, while larger gents should steer clear of the Y-shape and stick to crosses or the straight parallels – the shape of the cross brace actually lends itself to better holding up larger trousers, so it has a practical benefit to it as well as a stylish one.

Adding stylish braces to your look is certainly a dapper addition – something akin to a pocket square, bow tie or a fedora. It can appear to be an outlandish touch to an outfit however when paired with the right clothing it can totally transform a conservative and dull outfit into something very unique. Most traditionally used for formal occasion wear, in recent months we’ve seen these added to more casual styles with jeans, and leather jackets added for good measure.

So how do you incorporate braces into your own style? If you want to try this as a formal or office-wear look, try a colourful pair of braces with a crisp white shirt, a skinny tie and grey trousers to inject some subtle colour. For a very formal occasion when you need to be in black tie, why not match your braces to your white shirt for some effortless cool, just like James Bond? For an edgier look in a more casual setting, pair your turn-up jeans with coloured braces, a checked shirt and a pair of brown leather boots – you could even add a baker boy cap for a finishing touch.

Braces come in all shapes and sizes, in all kinds of colours and materials so you can absolutely find a pair you’re happy with. Try them on before you buy them so that you can check the adjustments and set them at a comfortable height for you. Pulling off this look takes a certain confidence, so if you feel uncomfortable in them it will be very obvious.

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