Mens Fashion Basics – Part 31 – Belts & Braces
This week I am finally going to move into the accessories department for men’s fashion basics and it has been a long time coming! But before we go into too much depth I want to just outline the concept that I’m trying to get across with these coming articles.
It is true that the details make the gentleman, but what’s even truer is that too many details make a great big mess. By this I mean that the accessories you wear should be used to individualise an outfit, they should not become part of your outfit.
I currently have three different watches that I use depending on what I’m wearing or what situation I’m in. I also have a couple of pieces of jewellery that I like put on to add character to a look. However, there are plenty of days where I don’t wear either of them and I still look just as good. Don’t ever feel obligated to wear every accessory you have all the time; you’ll just end up looking like a West Coast Rapper.
So, with this in mind, let’s start at the very bottom of the ladder with the choices a man faces when it comes keeping his trousers up. Do you go with a belt or braces? Now I’m sure most of you out there do not consider braces as an option, you either go belted or without, right?
You’re not wrong, but in the last couple of years they have started to make a major come back in most designer’s lines and you can expect it to hit the mainstream real soon when Wall Street 2 comes out in the cinema. Who personifies braces more than Gordon Gekko? And with tie bars, pocket squares and fedoras all on the rise again, why not add braces as a way of customising your look?
Thin clip on braces can channel a great punk rock vibe, whilst wider buttoned versions give a more neo-preppy feel. But regardless of whether you clip or button there are a few keys points to remember. Firstly, be mindful of your wardrobe! Try to keep the braces in neutral colours so they won’t clash with what you pair them with navy or grey are your safest bet.
If you do fancy a coloured pair then you will need to keep the rest of the outfit monochromatic so as not to clash or detract from your statement suspenders. Secondly, a lot like ties, be aware of your proportions. If you’re the slender indie type then wide braces will start to look like lederhosen and if you’ve got a wide chest then thin ones will look like permanent marker down your shirt. Keep everything complimentary with your own body type.
Once you bear these points in mind, there is no reason that you can’t start to wear braces with your jeans, trousers or chinos.
Of course there are rules for belts as well but they are a lot simpler for beginners. Always match your belt with your shoes. So brown with brown, black with black please, and if you can’t then don’t wear a belt at all. You do not have to stick to tones religiously; brown with tan is still fine. Lastly, make sure the belt you wear suits the occasion. Formal occasions will always require a belt with holes in it, with a fork belt buckle preferably in darker colours.
Casual situations give you many more options. Go for belts with detailing and patterns or maybe try a military style belt with a slide buckle, these are particularly great for summer because they come in an array of colours to match the bright shoes you’ll be wearing as well. I have one in blue and another in yellow to go with my navy boat shoes and yellow plimsolls. Finally, try to stay away from belts with huge tacky buckles, no one will be convinced that you’re a cowboy or Hells Angel so just don’t bother, OK?
Ways To Wear
And finally here are a few ideas of ways to use belt or braces in your wardrobe:
- Why not try braces with your suits to work? Make sure they match your suit colour and you’ll be on for a winner as soon as you take your jacket off. Again look to the Wall Street movies for inspiration.
- If you want to wear a belt when you wear your trainers, then try and invest in a white leather buckle belt. It co-ordinates with the leather of your trainers better than a canvas belt would.
- With military boots still a huge trend piece at the moment, why not put your braces with them too? Start channelling some serious punk rock with brown boots, black slim jeans, a white t-shirt and red skinny braces.
- As I said slide buckles are great for the summer, but why not put them with your summer suits? If that summer wedding you are planning to attend isn’t a strict black tie event why not try a navy belt with a white suit and navy boat shoes?
So there you have guys, rules on how to wear belts or braces with a few ideas on what to pair them with. And if you really don’t like braces that’s fine, why not try clipping them on but letting them hang? It has the same effect as an untied bow tie, no one has to know you were never going to use it properly. But remember, it’s belts OR braces not AND. They should never be used at the same time!