I have recently taken to wearing suspenders (Levi’s, Dickies, or Dockers, available everywhere), that are a sure badge of my Larry King geezerism.

At least during the winter. Come spring, we’ll see.

(Trivia: Suspenders did not always exist. Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, was issued one of the first patents on suspenders in 1871.)

It started with my flannel-lined pants that I like so much in cold weather. They are heavy and were sliding down causing their normal-length legs to drag on the floor. Then, too, the crotch hung down around my knees that gave me an inner-city teenager look that I didn’t want. With suspenders, the pants stay put, although I feel like a burlesque comedian. (Cheese and crackers!)

On warm days, I switched back to my normal jeans with belts, but then at night I was driven crazy with itching around the belt line. Suspecting the itching might come from chafing on my winter-dry skin, I put the suspenders on those pants, too, and the itching stopped. My suspicions were right.

Suspenders, however, have problems of their own, at least for me. The shoulder straps are under several layers of pull-over tops that have to be removed to drop my pants when nature calls, so this simple action becomes a project. Even my ever-present hat has to come off. (My hat always stays on, not out of vanity, but to keep from losing it. See About.) So far, I have dropped my pants with time to spare, but I can see it could become a problem down the road. I will worry about that when the time comes.

I can simply wear the suspender straps over my pull-over tops, sacrificing a little of the ease of removing these layers as my body warms.  This is doable because, without a belt, there is more room between the pants and my waist, but it involves a change in habit that has gotten more difficult as I age.

All of this may be a simple rationalization for my gradual loss of a waist that I claim to be a natural progression, independent of fitness.

Toothed clips lock onto the pants and operate the same for any brand of suspenders, cheap or expensive.  I understand the clips could damage the pants over time, and I should switch to suspenders with leather buttonholes instead of clips.  But then, I would have to sew buttons onto my pants, and that will never happen.  I do remember long ago some of my dress pants already had buttons sewn on the inside of the waist to accommodate suspenders, but that was unusual even then.  Clips will be fine. Their placement is not that critical, and, if necessary, they can be moved an inch or so to the left or right to account for wear.

For the totally inexperienced, pants are lowered by simply sliding the straps off the shoulder.  Once clipped, they never have to be unclipped in use.  The placement of suspenders on the pants is always centered and symmetrical. The back clips go on first, placed to keep the shorter back straps flat. This part is usually done with the pants laid out face down on a bed. Then, the straps go over the shoulders and straight down to the pants.  The length of the straps are adjusted evenly by the small clips on each long strap (near the top in the photo).  The straps themselves are usually elastic and an inch or more wide to prevent twisting.

It sounds more complicated than it is.  Suspenders do not come with instructions because they are so obvious.  Almost any placement will work, and only reflect individual neatness.  Wearing both suspenders and a belt is a sign of compulsiveness.  Wear one or the other, but not both, at least until a rock star starts a new trend.

In the summer, I live in shorts where the length doesn’t matter and dry skin is not a problem, so I’m expecting to switch back to belts then. But I’m keeping an open mind.  I briefly considered wearing  lederhosen with shorts, but then I would have to get a Tyrolean hat and the whole thing would be too costumey.

(Be aware suspenders also refers to old-fashioned women’s stocking supports, garter belts and all of that, now only sold as erotica.  An Internet search of suspenders will bring up some racy pictures.)

About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
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