straps worn over the shoulder to hold up trousers

Braces (suspenders in the U.S.) are a standard item of male clothing. Their function is to keep trousers at a set height on the body. They are standard wear for formal styles of dress such as the lounge suit.

Public appearance requires a lounge suit with unseen braces
Otherwise (see man on right) the trousers drop slightly and spoil the effect

There is also a fashion use among some young males, and a use by some workmen, most often with newspaper. Braces can be worn entirely out of sight, hidden by a waistcoat, or in sight as a display.[1] A critical factor in formal dress is the "drop" of the trousers as they meet the shoes. Here braces avoid the need to hitch trousers up, always a problem with belts.[2]

In many countries braces were worn by all classes of men for well over a hundred years until about the 1960s, except in the armed forces. Then fashion changed and men's clothes became informal, with lower waistlines and belts. Now they are a minority item.


  1. As, for example, the red braces worn by Michael Douglas in the film Wall Street
  2. Flusser, Alan 1985. Clothes and the man: suspenders and belts. Villard. ISBN 0-394-54623-7 [1]
A fashion statement: Johnny Depp on the right