Style Guide: Suspender Features (Skinny, Wide, Clip, Button, X, Y, Stretch, Woven)

Posted on February 02, 2015 by JJ Suspenders

With suspenders becoming more prevalent as part of everyday attire, we thought we’d put together a quick, at-a-glance guide for you about the different features of suspenders, and explain under which circumstances each is most suitable.

Skinny vs. wide suspenders

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Suspenders come in a variety of widths, which can make it tricky to settle on a width. The first thing to keep in mind is that there is no “right” width. All suspender widths work, but they just work for different looks and under different circumstances. Here’s a quick guide to each:

  • Skinny Suspenders: skinny suspenders are narrow, and are worn more as a fashion accessory rather than for their functionality. They’re great because they’re stylish and work well with modern trends like skinny jeans and slim-fit blazers, but they don’t do much in terms of actually holding trousers up.
  • Wide Suspenders: wide suspenders tend to be slightly more functional than stylish. They do a great job of holding trousers up, and give off a stronger, bolder look.

Clip-on vs. button-on suspenders

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One of the smallest details on suspenders is also one of the biggest things people argue about when it comes to discussing fashion and tradition. While clip-on suspenders have become commonplace and are considered appropriate for wearing with casual and business attire, many people believe that the only way to wear suspenders is if they’re the button-on kind. Here’s the pros and cons of each:

Clip-On Suspenders

  • Pros:
    • Easy to wear & remove
  • Cons:
    • Can damage trouser fabric over time
    • Not appropriate for very formal situations

Button-On Suspenders

  • Pros:
    • Always look elegant and appropriate, no matter the occasion
  • Cons:
    • Need to sew buttons into trousers

We prefer button-on suspenders for formal occasions and everyday wear, as they’re more versatile. However, we do love clip-on suspenders for those crazy/lazy days when we’ve just got to run out the door but still want to look put-together.

Y-back vs. X-back suspenders

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You may have noticed that although most suspenders look the same from the front, they vary between two distinct styles when it comes to the back: there are Y-backs and X-backs. Their names are pretty self explanatory: the suspenders either form an X shape at the back (the two straps cross over each other) or a Y shape (the two traps meet in the middle of the back, and only one strap joins them to the back of the trousers). Here’s how the two styles differ:

  • Y-Back Suspenders: Y-backs are more formal, and perfect for business, semi-formal, or formal occasions. Suspenders were originally designed this way, and traditionally tailors would only sew buttons into the center of the back of the trousers so that Y-back suspenders would be fastened there. A single attachment point does make them slightly weaker than X-back suspenders, but purchasing a good-quality pair will ensure you have no issues wearing Y-backs.
  • X-Back Suspenders: X-backs are more casual, sturdy, work-appropriate suspenders. They’re often found as clip-ons simply because most trousers with buttons sewn into them have the button in the center back of the trousers to accommodate more traditional Y-back suspenders. Fret not, however: a good tailor can easily sew buttons into your trousers to accommodate X-back suspenders.

Stretch vs. woven suspenders

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Suspenders not only come in a variety of patterns, widths, and styles, but they also come in a variety of fabrics. These fabrics can be classifies into stretch (elastic) and non-stretch fabrics.

  • Stretch: elastic suspenders make up the bulk of suspenders found online. They are incredibly versatile as they can fit a wide range of body types and sizes. However, they are best suited to more casual occasions.
  • Non-stretch: non-stretch suspenders can be made from everything ranging from rugged leather to elegant silk fabrics. They are often more refined and elegant than plain elastic suspenders, but this can also make them more difficult to fit. Nowadays, most non-stretch suspenders have an elastic element to them, which allows for a better fit, more support, and more comfortable wear (the elastic part is almost always located at the back, and is the “leg” of where Y-backs meet).

We hope this helps you choose the best suspenders for you. If you have any questions about suspenders you’d like answered, don’t hesitate to email us at friends@jjsuspenders.com


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