Initially rather primitive constructions in coarse felted wool or broadcloth, braces were steadily refined under the auspices of the Victorian dandy, whose fall-fronted trouser (designed to sit on the natural waist across the belly-button) was in desperate need of support. Initially thought of as ‘underwear’ to be worn exclusively beneath a waistcoat, by the turn of the twentieth century braces were increasingly becoming an accessory to pay attention to; a statement piece that enhanced one’s tailored look and demonstrated that he knew how to dress, made-up in either boxcloth, silk moiré, barathea or new-fangled elastic.
At times seen as the weapon of choice for the spiv or yuppie, braces have returned to vogue steadily since the noughties as more and more gentlemen have taken an interest in discreet, elegant dressing. From a technical perspective, the great benefit of correctly fitted braces is that they allow you to completely and utterly forget about slouching through the day hitching your trousers up – there is nothing less elegant and more irritating than trousers pulled-tight with a belt which seldom stay where you want them. Braces eradicate that problem, hanging trousers elegantly and immovably from your shoulders, and they offer other practical advantages too.
They allow for your trouser waistband to be looser and therefore a little roomier than if you choose to wear a belt, which is not only comfortable but allows for the trouser to fall through the leg more naturally, for a refined, flowing look. In the same breath, they allow for one to wear trousers with a slightly higher rise that sit atop, rather than across the hips for a classically elegant aesthetic. They come in either button-in or clip-on variants, and button-in are both more traditional and more grown up. Buttons are always supplied with button-in designs.