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There’s a lot to cover when it comes to the suspenders vs belt debate (or ‘braces vs belt’, if you’re a UK homeboy). They both work in different ways to achieve the same goal of keeping your trousers up, but look different, and have use in different dress codes.
Suspenders transfer the tension of keeping your trousers up onto your shoulders, and just hold them up. In contrast, a belt cinches your trouser waistband tighter, keeping the tension around your waist, and reducing the gap. Suspenders are also more formal than belts.
In some cases and dress codes, there are hard and fast rules if you should wear suspenders or a belt, but at other times, is’s really just down to personal preference. However, depending on your priorities, one may be the superior form of keeping your trousers up.
By the end of this guide, you will be able to decide if belts or suspenders are best for your use, and know the situations where one is the generally accepted method of trouser elevation – let’s get into it.
- The ultimate suspenders vs belt comparison
- Which situations should you wear a belt or suspenders?
As previously mentioned, they both have the ultimate goal of keeping your trousers up, but work in different ways:
I’m sure you’re already familiar with this high-tech device, but a belt is a leather band, usually with many holes punctured in the side of it, which you feed through your belt loops, and fasten by looping the band through a buckle, and pushing the buckle through a hole.
This fastening cinches the belt closely to your waist – as it’s attached to your trousers, it similarly cinches the fabric, reducing any gap that existed. In reducing this gap, the trousers are able to sit higher and closer, and wear like trousers that are better suited to your waist size.
- All the tension stays around your waist.
- Your waist constantly moves, so a belt can fall down and adjust.
- It actually reduces the ‘gap’ of your trouser band.
Braces are elasticated straps that are connected to your trousers by either buttons or metal clasps, and are put over your shoulders. This transfers the stress of keeping your trousers up away from your waist like a belt, and onto your shoulders, which sit at a constant level.
- All the tension is transferred to your shoulders.
- Your shoulders stay at the same elevation, so suspenders stay at the same location.
- If your trouser waist is too big, suspenders don’t help reduce the gap – they just keep your trousers up. So, if you have a huge waist band, there will still be a large gap, unlike a belt which will reduce it.
This nifty table will directly compare the two, and tally them up to produce an ‘overall’ winner:
|How well do they keep your trousers up?||Suspenders|
|How comfortable are they?||Tie|
|Do they keep your shirt tucked in?||Tie|
|How adjustable are they?||Suspenders|
|Which is better for your health?||Suspenders|
|Which is better for larger gentlemen?||Suspenders|
|Which is easier and more available to buy?||Belt|
|Which is more convenient to use?||Belt|
|Which is more versatile?||Belt|
Total For Suspenders: 4
Total For Belt: 3
So, it looks like, according to the numbers generated by this arbitrary ranking system, suspenders are better than belts!
But we both know it’s not that simple – depending on how much importance your place on these qualities, you may choose one over the other.
Let’s quickly dive into each category into more detail.
Belts vs Suspenders When it Comes to Style (Tie)
Both braces and belts have the potential to be super stylish.
Suspenders are stylish because:
- They add interest to your outfit when you take your jacket off.
- They’re less common than a belt.
- When you wear a pair that is fastened by buttons, people know that you’ve taken the effort to have them sewn on, and see you as more knowledgeable about style.
- They maintain a clean visual line, and are generally more elegant than a belt.
A belt, especially in casual outfits, give you great opportunity to add texture, colour and interest:
- As they’re more common, they’re still stylish without being flashy.
- You can bring in more textures and variants, such as canvas and suede.
However, belts visually cut you in half, which doesn’t provide an as seamless look as suspenders.
How Well do They Each Keep Your Trousers Up? (Suspenders)
As your shoulders are permanently in the same position all day, suspenders keep your trousers up consistently, all day long.
Belts can sink down your waist, depending on how tight you have them. This means that you might have to pull them up.
How Comfortable are Suspenders vs Belts? (Tie)
Suspenders remove the tension from your waist, giving you more room and comfort in that area.
However, though I’m fine with it, some people dislike the feeling of suspender straps over their shoulders. Also, when you sit, you can sometimes feel the back leather connector, and leather loops.
If you’re anything like me, you hate having something cinching around your waist – it can be uncomfortable, and if it hits a bone, sometimes painful.
This issue is worsened if your trouser waistband is way too large for you, as the excess material will crumple up, and push into you.
This can’t happen with suspenders.
So, to answer the question ‘are suspenders more comfortable‘, yes, generally they are, but not for everyone.
Do They Keep Your Shirt Tucked In? (Tie)
With suspenders, the three connector points provide a barrier for the shirt, and make it harder for it to become untucked at those points.
With a belt, the cinching of the waistband can help keep the shirt tucked in better, as there is more resistance.
How Adjustable are Suspenders vs Belts? (Suspenders)
Suspenders are fully and easily adjustable to any height.
Each strap is independent of one another, so even if you have a sloping shoulder, you can adjust them to your preference.
Standard belts have holes in standard increments, though ‘ratchet belts’ use a rail, which can allow for more precise adjustments
Are Suspenders or Belts Better for Your Health? (Suspenders)
As they actually make you stand up straighter, suspenders are said to include a bunch of health benefits:
- Better blood flow and circulation
- Better posture (which leads to maintaining good skeletal structure over time)
However, belts don’t really have any positive health connotations – but, if they’re too tight, they are said to possibly constrict blood flow, and compress internal organs. Yuck.
Which are Better for Larger Gentlemen? (Suspenders)
Suspenders are more advantageous for larger guys.
This is because high waisted trousers are generally more comfortable for bigger gentlemen, and it’s more comfortable and easier to wear your trousers higher with suspenders.
Which are Easier To Buy? (Belts)
Good suspenders can be hard to come by in the specific material, width, fastening mechanism, and style that you want.
You will likely have to go to a speciality store, and even then, I have trouble finding the sort of style that I want. To add to this, good quality braces generally command a higher price tag than most belts.
What’s more, if you like wearing your suspenders with buttons loops, you have to go through the hassle of sewing on, or getting someone to sew on, the buttons.
Belts can pretty much be found and purchased anywhere, in many styles, shapes, widths and materials.
On top of this, as they are more accessible, this usually leads to lower prices.
Also, your trousers probably already have belt loops, so it’s plug and play.
Which are More Convenient to Use? (Belts)
Suspenders can be a bit fiddly to put on, and generally take longer than belts. To add to this, to go to the bathroom, you must take your suspenders off of your shoulders, which can lead to very awkward situations.
Belts are easy to put on, fasten, and take off.
Which are More Versatile? (Belts)
Suspenders are only typically worn in formal settings, like with suits and tuxedos, so aren’t very versatile. Though you can wear braces casually too, you have to really know what you’re doing, and have the confidence to pull them off.
On the other hand, belts can be easily worn casually and formally.
Now that I’ve covered each comparison point in greater detail, this next section will go over certain dress codes, and if you should wear a belt or suspenders with them – there are some cases where you should, and shouldn’t, regardless of your preference!
My rule of thumb:
- Wear suspenders of formal situations, such as with suits.
- Wear belts for casual OR formal situations.
Style icons such as Daniel Craig have managed to pull of braces with casual items though, like a leather jacket and a t-shirt.
But you’re probably not Daniel Craig (and if you are, hi, big fan).
Let’s get into some specifics.
Some people might have childhood trauma of having their trousers pulled down in front of their class, and as a result, firmly secure their trousers with a belt and suspenders (joke).
But should you simultaneously wear a belt and braces?
You should only use one accessory to help hold up your trousers. So, you should either wear a belt OR suspenders, not both at the same time.
It doesn’t really make sense to wear more than one accessory to do the same job; it’s like wearing a tie tack and a tie bar to keep your tie in place – pointless.
The only reason why you would wear suspenders and a belt at the same time is if you were working in some sort of construction job, and were using suspenders to keep your trousers up, and a belt to keep your tools on.
Can you wear a belt with a suit? Absolutely. In fact, I’d be super surprised if you hadn’t done it before.
Can you wear suspenders with a suit? Yep.
But which is better?
I’m firmly in the suspenders camp, because:
- They help ensure a clean line.
- They are a more formal item, and normally you wouldn’t wear them with a casual outfit. So, the only opportunity to wear them is in formal wear, which you should probably take.
- All of the aforementioned comfortability and health benefits.
Though, others prefer the visual element of a belt with a suit.
However, my recommendation may vary depending on the type of suit you’re wearing:
- If you prefer wearing more modern suits, or frequently take your jacket off, you may prefer a belt.
- But if, like myself, you tend towards traditional styling, suspenders may be more appropriate.
It’s a commonly accepted fashion faux pa to wear a belt with a waistcoat because ‘the belt will ruin the line of a three piece suit’.
Therefore, you should again wear suspenders with a waistcoat because it helps aid in creating a streamlined look.
However, provided your waistcoat is long enough to cover it and you’re not wearing a big, chunky, and intrusive belt, I wouldn’t consider wearing a belt with a waistcoat a big problem.
As tuxedo trousers should feature side adjusters, it is accepted that a man doesn’t have to wear any other trouser support accessory when wearing black tie.
But if you do need additional support, traditionally a man should wear ‘white Moire braces’ with a tuxedo or dinner jacket.
The white colour will help with the understated nature of the garment, and blend into the shirt when the jacket is removed.
On top of this, in following with the ‘belt or braces with a waistcoat’ guidance, as black tie requires a waist covering, you should wear suspenders with a tuxedo, and not a belt.
And that’s a good job too, because, if you trousers have side adjusters, they won’t have belt loops!
I’ve worn braces to work for a long time, so I can tell you it is possible.
For Wearing Suspenders to Work
Though my suit shop job was highly atypical in the clothing department, as my colleagues were all wearing them too, I had to basically run marathons for people, so the benefit of permanently keeping my trousers up really paid off.
Against Wearing Suspenders to Work
In professions where everyone isn’t in the know, wearing suspenders may come across as snobbish; you unfortunately have to use your discretion.
And, there’s the added problem of having awkward bathroom breaks too.
When it comes to deciding if you should wear suspenders or a belt for work, I would recommend to wear a belt if you work in casual clothing, or if there is a stigma around braces in your industry. If you’re wearing a suit on a daily basis and you feel confident, you can give suspenders a go.
But belts are pretty much universally accepted, so you can never go wrong with them.
So we’ve covered the ‘are suspenders better than a belt’ debate, the benefits of each, and which you should wear in certain situations.
For me, I would say that suspenders are in almost all ways superior to belts. They look better, do their job better, and let’s not forget about the comfort factor and associated health benefits.
Despite this, I wear them both; braces in all formal situations, and belts in casual situations – I feel the advantages of the two methods lend themselves to each dress code.
But now it’s up to you to decide what’s right for you. Use this article, and unleash your belts or suspenders.