It’s a Hold Up! Belts vs Suspenders – As Voted by You

September 28, 2016
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Late last week we ran a poll on our Twitter page to let you weigh in on a debate that pits form against function. An argument over preference as polarizing as the 2016 Presidential Election: Belts vs Suspenders

While belts have existed for thousands of years, holding up tunics and togas, suspenders came in late to game, shaking things up to improve on an age old problem that still effects us to this day. But what factors do we consider when choosing one over the other? Is this simply a matter of superior support, or are we looking for more than a practical solution to our wandering waistlines.

Since the 1800’s, when trousers were first invented, there have been two very clear camps established in regards to our fashion: Those of us that prefer a sharp belt to trim out our midsection, and that small demographic brave enough to sport a subtle, (and if we’re being perfectly honest) more effective method of support.

Give that last point a moment’s thought before you click away. Regardless of your preference, it’s not hard to see that the physics behind a pair of suspenders far outweigh the forceful grip of a smart belt. While women have a more “hourglass” shaped figure that compliments the use of a good belt, men rarely have the pronounced hips required for proper belt use. Rather than something that pinches around your waist, we should be looking for the upward support suspenders offer.

And that “pinch” is nothing we should take for granted. Just below your waist is the Lateral Femoral Cutaneous Nerve. Compression of this nerve from overly tight belts, sever weight loss, and diabetes can result in deterioration of a protective layer of fat between the nerve and your hip bone, causing numbness and pain.

According to our Twitter poll over 70% of you (myself included) would rather suffer the potential harm of a stubborn preference, than make the dramatic switch to a reasonable solution.

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So why then do we, the majority, prefer the belt?

 

In an archived episode of the Freakenomics Podcast, fashion historian Chloe Chapin credited the Duke of Windsor for bringing the belt mainstream.

 

CHAPIN: And so oftentimes what these princes were known for was for wearing and making popular a fashion that an older generation would consider to be much too casual, whether that was morning coats or belts; they were often sort of trendsetters. It was like the people, his friends that were sitting next to him, and then those people would have dinner with someone else and they would be like, “Oh, after dinner I’m unbuttoning my jacket, just like the prince does. You know how I hang out with the prince all the time, because I’m so important.” And then one thing passes on to the next. It’s like a celebrity haircut today. You want to associate with someone you admire or look up to or think is fancy or important, and so you mimic their style.

 

Personally, even knowing the benefits and faults of both, I could never see myself moving away from Team Belt. A good belt is a transition piece from your shirt to your pants, like crown molding or wainscoting for your wardrobe. It may sound vain or petty, but belts offer an opportunity to accessorize that suspenders simply can’t match. One is out front, loud and proud, while the other is hidden away underneath a jacket, with a modest design for full mobility.
And when I think about tackling spring loaded clamps in the men’s room, I feel a tightness in my chest.

 

With function and practicality squarely on their side, suspenders make a strong case for themselves…but they just don’t hold up.

1 Comment

  • Reply ER October 2, 2016 at 4:17 am

    I’ve been wearing suspenders for a week now, and can safely say I’ll never go back to belts.

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