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Suspenders with single chest 2-pieces suits

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by lestat, Aug 13, 2004.

  1. lestat

    lestat Member

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    It seems that pretty much everyone (including me) agrees that suspenders are way better than belt.
    According to tradition it should be avoided to show the braces, so no problems with double-chest or 3-pieces suit, however the most common suit nowadays is the 2-pieces with jacket with 2 or 3 buttons. Do you think tradition needs to be updated and it´s possible "to show" suspenders under a jacket?
     
  2. rws

    rws Active Member

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    As almost everything else in dress today, it's a matter of aesthetics.

    By my aesthetics, visibly wearing suspenders is either risible (recalling "The Beverley Hillbillies", or worse) or simply crude (not altogether unlike showing one's undershirt).

    If you prefer the look, though, showing your suspenders probably wouldn't matter much to most people with whom you're likely to interact.
     
  3. Will

    Will Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Suspenders hold up socks. Braces hold up trousers. With the jacket buttoned, they aren't visible.

    In defense of braces the "they shouldn't show" is incorrect anyway. Dinner suits are always worn with braces, and a single breasted jacket is never buttoned.

    Finally,personally, I find the sight of an appropriate pair of braces much more congenial than the buckles on most mens' belts.

    Will
     
  4. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    I'd say that the board is divided. I think that braces are fine under a traditionally cut business suit with higher rise pants. Otherwise, always a belt, unless your name is Billy Bob, and you drive a tractor. Hmmm, maybe we should have a poll...
     
  5. rayk

    rayk Senior member

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    Sartorial tradition dictates that a gentleman not remove his jacket while in public, and that he always keep it properly buttoned, excepting when seated and wearing one of single-breasted design. Adherence to these simple rules obviates any anxiety about the acceptability of displaying, intentionally or inadvertently, one's braces while in public.

    The modern relaxation of sartorial standards, however, has made wearing an unbuttoned single-breasted or even, and I shutter to think it, double-breasted jacket, acceptable. With respect to the former, a buttoned jacket simply looks neater and maintains a better line, but wearing a SB jacket open has become a common practice. The occasional flash of braces that may sometimes be observable under the open SB jacket no longer earns the condescending raised eyebrow of the more properly attired gentleman, nor produces emotionally-induced syncopal episodes in women. A double-breasted jacket should never be worn open. Doing so is a style faux pas from any perspective. There is simply too much material in the jacket front of the DB to be worn unbuttoned. To do so produces a very unattractive and unkempt appearance.

    IMHO, a return to traditional sartorial standards is indicated. I for one have witnessed enough re-invention of and personal expression in men's dress.
     
  6. lestat

    lestat Member

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    Thank you Will for the definition of braces versus suspenders. I was not aware of the difference, but I may be forgiven considering that English is only my third language.
    I would just like to add that I was referring to wearing braces with a suit, of course: not even in my drunkest moment I would dream of wearing them with i.e. jeans and a shirt alone.
    The whole point was about the contrast between the formal rule of hiding braces and the use of single chest jackets which, as correctly pointed out by rayk, are to be unbuttoned when seating, exposing in this way the braces.
    Thanks for your opinions
     
  7. kidkim2

    kidkim2 Senior member

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    rayk--

    Your first paragraph seems to me an accurate and valuable summary of current buttoning/unbuttoning conventions.

    But your remarks about changing standards (in paragraph two) remind me of an important principle (one about which I've become a bit of a nag): correctness in dress, as in language, inter alia, is in large measure a function of one's (sartorial) community.  The analogous notion of "discourse community" is well established, I believe, among lexicographers and grammarians.  

    Among men of my generation and SES, in my neck of the woods (the San Francisco Bay Area), leaving one's SB jacket unbuttoned is definitely not done--unless, that is, one is wearing a waistcoat or sweater underneath the jacket.

    All of the above is IMHO.  I hope others pitch in with their additions or corrections.

    Will--

    I am interested in your comment about "dinner suiits."  If by these you mean the standard "black tie" attire, I would have to take exception to the claim that it is ever correct for the jacket to be unbuttoned--except, by choice, when the wearer is seated.  ("White tie" is of course a different matter.)

    N.B.  I see that a sententious tone has crept into these remarks.  For this I apologize.  Believe me, I do not think I have all the answers.

    Regards to all,

    Mike
     
  8. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    In my neck of the woods (either L.A. or Boston) and among my SES (academic and artistic classes, which were probably best described as genteel poverty), if one wears a sports coat, one is either going to a club or is probably a liberal arts professor, depending on the coat and the rest of the outfit. If one happens to be wearing a suit, well or ill-fitting, buttoned or unbuttoned, Kiton or Men's Wearhouse, one is either making a presentation, asking for money, or is visiting for the purpose of doling out money.
     
  9. faustian bargain

    faustian bargain Senior member

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    (the SES acronym is unfamiliar to me...? )

    LA Guy your description seems to be strikingly similar to that of some offices of my profession, architecture, at least here in san francisco. the only times i see my principals in suits are when they are going to an awards ceremony or to speak at a hearing. they might wear a sportsjacket and tie for meeting with clients, but not necessarily.

    these days i am the only one in the office wearing a sportsjacket every day to work, but i don't wear a tie and i take off the jacket as soon as i sit down at my desk.

    /andrew
     
  10. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    SES = social-economic status/strata
     
  11. faustian bargain

    faustian bargain Senior member

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    thanks - knew it was something like that, couldn't figure out the words though.

    ***edit - it's unnerving how many times my post ends up at the start of a new page, and it reads like a total non-sequitor.
     
  12. JLibourel

    JLibourel Senior member

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    I am starting to get a bit annoyed with those in these fora (and I have seen this in some published style guides as well) who will try to make a distinction between "suspenders" and "braces." I have been making my living using language professionally for most of my fairly long life, and for most of that time I have always operated under the assumption that "suspenders" was the American term for this item of apparel, "braces" the British. (Since I did graduate from Oxford University in Literae Humaniores, I do have an above-average familiarity with British English compared to most Americans.) Now I am being informed that "suspenders" are the nasty things with metal clips that Joe Bob uses to keep his britches up while "braces" are their elegant counterpart that button and we use with our bespoke suits. Sorry, but when I am in America I shall continue to call these devices--good, bad and ugly--"suspenders." In Britain, I shall call them "braces." What the British call "suspenders," we would call "garters." There are many divergent usages of this sort: What the British call "pants," we call "undershorts." What the British call a "vest," we call an "undershirt." Our "vest" is the British "weskit." The American "sweat shirt" is the British "track shirt," and so it goes. Most of the men in my mother's pedigree who were around at the time of the American Revolution fought the British, so c'mon all you Americans in the Forum: Let's not haul down the Stars and Stripes and run up the Union Jack when it comes to linguisitic usage.
     
  13. Alias

    Alias Senior member

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    I'm one of those guys who chose to swear off wearing suspenders (braces, whatever) until I turn 45. By then I wouldn't be afraid to show them.
     
  14. faustian bargain

    faustian bargain Senior member

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    JLibourel: chip chip, old bean.

    while we're talking about garters, what about sleeve garters? who used them? were they just a way of holding back blousey sleeves that the wearer was too poor to have altered (seems unlikely), or was there another reason?

    and what was up with spats? (ok that's going too far astray...)

    /andrew <- wore spats, a busby, and epaulets in HS marching band...
     
  15. kidkim2

    kidkim2 Senior member

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    JLibourel--

    You are absolutely right about "suspenders" and "braces," prime examples of what has been called "the barrier of the common language."  The British and American varieties of English are replete with similar instances, words that seem at first sight identical in meaning but on second thought are as different as, well, "boot" and "trunk," or "circus" and "circle," or. . . .

    However, I would respectfully suggest that there is one semingly insignificant semantic disparity between "suspenders" and "braces"--a distinction that may in fact make something of a difference.  "Suspenders" has two possible meanings, one distinctive to America, one to England (America: trouser holder-uppers; England: socks/hose garters).  As far as I know, "braces," on the other hand, has no American (clothing-related) meaning at all.  

    Thus, IMHO, if one were addressing a stranger, the use of "braces" might be (marginally) preferable, as somewhat less likely to lead to confusion.

    Mike
     
  16. j

    j Senior member Admin

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    Except that to a stranger in America, "braces" mean things that hook to your teeth and straighten them, or a part of a building, or something that holds parts of your body straight for medical purposes, and the use of a British term to describe something we have a word for would seem affected. Just like you wouldn't refer to the new "jumper" you bought, just so you could explain what it meant, only to be asked why you didn't just say "sweater".

    And to the original poster, to avoid confusion, what you are calling "single chest" is usually referred to as "single breasted". Just so you know; no offense meant.

    That was a cranky-sounding post, so, sorry, but I'm not going back and editing it for niceness.
     
  17. The Dandy

    The Dandy Active Member

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    I'm in the minority, but my own acquaintances do not leave their single breasted jackets buttoned constantly. Most, in fact, rarely button them at all. Doing so would look very affected, at least in my opinion. Shockingly enough, given that most of these fellows are neither under 30 nor living in Section 8 Housing, and most are very well dressed individuals, I would suggest that this "rule" has little to do with age and SES, but rather, one's conceptions of formality.

    As far as brace decorum is concerned, my opinion is that braces are meant to be seen. While this doesn't necessitate that one parade around without a jacket or anything like that, there is no need to go to great lengths to ensure that one's silk Trafalgar braces are not seen by the public. Both the 19th and 20th centuries are now over.
     
  18. pejsek

    pejsek Senior member

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    How else are you supposed to show the white catgut ends? I agree that we are long past the day when a glimpse of suspender could cause a gasp of disbelief. My god, we have lived through the era of Larry King. All of my single-breasted Henry Poole suits feature brace-back trousers. It's a very classic design and normal movement will reveal the presence of suspenders from time to time and so it makes sense to treat them as an element of pattern and color.
    I suppose I have referred to both braces and suspenders here, but I really come down on the side of suspenders. This is normal American usage and for me, personally, to say braces would be an affectation. The comparison to jumper is apt and I don't believe there is any danger of confusion.
    Now, /andrew, if you ever figure out the meaning of sleeve garters please let me know.
     
  19. Will

    Will Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Mike,

    Though I doubt if anyone is offended to see a buttoned jacket, unbuttoned single breasted dinner jackets follow traditional usaage.

    Black tie is the casual version of white tie. Tailcoats are never buttoned - as you know, they don't have them - nor in my opinion should their semi-formal relations. The unbuttoned jacket displays the cummerbund, sash or weskit beneath to better effect.

    Will
     
  20. kidkim2

    kidkim2 Senior member

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    Will--

    Believe me, I do not in the slightest doubt your knowledge or veracity.  But I am burning with curiosity to learn where it is that you have observed men with their dinner jackets unbuttoned.  (I except those who are seated.)  Especially as I see that you are based in Frisco, not Pocatello.

    For what it's worth (not much), I cannot remember ever having seen such a thing in my life.  Nor can I find any pictures in magazines or books that show men in unbuttoned dinner jackets.  Where have I been?

    Help.

    Mike
     

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