Sunday, August 7, 2011

My First Suspension

There are quite a few sartorial rules and guidelines that apply to all men: belts match shoes, socks match pants, ties should have dimples, and a million others. When you dig a little deeper, however, you learn that there are principles that flatter certain body types while accentuating the negative aspects of others. You've heard many of these categorizations before: tall, slim, athletic, portly, stout, and average are all common words to describe men's body types.

At 5'4" and about 125 pounds, I fall into the "short and slim" category. While any competent dresser can theoretically get away with wearing anything he pleases, there are some things that will emphasize my smaller stature and others that will work to minimize it. For example, I can't wear super large-scale patterns; they swallow me up and make me look smaller than I actually am. On the other hand, my body type displays tight, small-scale patterns to their best advantage because they don't have much ground to cover on my small frame.

Another concept that serves me well is the one where maximizing height is paramount. Pinstripes are awesome for me, because they draw the viewer's eye up and down, creating the illusion of height and therefore the illusion that I'm not just smashingly handsome but also maybe, you know, 5'6" or something. On the other hand, horizontal lines work against me, but I wear one nearly every day when I throw on a belt and effectively cut my body in half.

The solution to this issue? I had suspender buttons sewn into my suit pants (never use clip-on suspenders), and I picked up the braces you see above. For years I've been wary of wearing them because they're either too old mannish, affected, or just silly-looking, but I was wrong. Not only do they add two more vertical lines to the ensemble, but they're far more comfortable than a belt could ever be. With suspenders, your pants hang from your shoulders, not your waist. I can reach for things and my shirt doesn't come untucked, and my waistband isn't cinched around me like a twist-tie. Bonuses all around.

Perhaps most importantly, I've grown to appreciate the classic look of suspenders and find them playful and a little quirky, at least on a guy my age. They add another layer of visual interest that a belt simply doesn't provide, and I'll always relish the opportunity to coordinate something with a tie. I just need to round out the collection with ten or so more pairs and I'm set.

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