Not many people wear braces anymore. Sometimes called suspenders in America, braces are the most secure way to hold up one’s trousers. When wearing braces, your trousers stay at the same height all day long. They never sag, which can happen all too often with a belt or side adjusters. With a three-piece suit they also prevent a bit of shirt from showing underneath the waistcoat, like we see with Sean Connery in his fight scenes. If you’re worried about braces showing, nobody will ever know when you’re wearing a three-piece suit. They will also always be hidden when wearing a double-breasted suit. Another great advantage is that trousers can be worn a bit looser than with a belt, which is especially helpful to people who have health problems caused by too tight trousers. Braces require a higher-than-currently-fashionable trouser rise to work properly. Braces allow trousers to hang elegantly from the waist and can be a bit awkward on low-rise trousers.
Barathea braces are great for year-round wear and wool boxcloth braces are great for winter. Striped grosgrain braces can be worn whenever a regimental striped tie is appropriate, and fancy printed silks are great for almost any occasion. Since braces aren’t meant to be seen, you can really wear any braces you want to. You can pick your braces as you pick your lining, to match or to contrast. But the leather ends, like a belt, should match the shoes. That is unless the ends are white goatskin, which goes with everything. Proper braces button on, not clip on, and are preferably not elastic in the front. Braces do, however, always have elastic in the back. If that elastic wears out—and if the braces are properly cared for the elastic will wear out before the front parts do—it can be replaced.
Braces and a belt should never be worn together since they are achieving the same goal, so it’s okay to wear your trousers with empty belt loops if you’re wearing braces. It’s better to not have belt loops if you’re wearing braces, but side adjusters are best if you want the option to not wear the trousers with braces. For trousers only worn with braces they can be cut with a “braces back” that is higher than in the front. For a similar effect, cloth tabs can be sewn into the back so the braces attach higher in the back than in the front, but they can be tucked away for when not wearing braces. Ralph Fiennes wears such a style in Skyfall. Buttons for braces are typically found inside the waistband on trousers with belt loops or side adjusters. On trousers just meant for braces the front buttons are often put on the outside for additional comfort.
James Bond has worn braces with black tie in four films: The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill, Casino Royale and Skyfall. In Daniel Craig’s Bond films he wears white moiré braces with braided ends, traditional for eveningwear. Timothy Dalton wears white braces as well, but in The Living Daylights we clearly see that they clip on. Clip-on braces don’t attach to the trousers in as many places as button-on braces, meaning the trousers won’t drape as well and won’t be as secure. Clip-on braces can also potentially damage the cloth of the trousers. If Dalton were wearing a cummerbund it would hide the unsightly clips from view when the jacket is open. Some people believe there is a rule that a cummerbund and braces should not be worn together, thinking that it’s the same as wearing a belt and braces. But there is no such rule. Whilst a belt holds up one’s trousers, a cummerbund does not. It’s there to cover the waist, just as an evening waistcoat does. Whilst Bond has only worn white braces with black tie, black is equally acceptable.
Do you ever wear braces?