Where do you stand when it comes to belts or braces? Each one has its own merits stylistically and in regards to comfort, but yet these two accessories that are functionally similar are rather polarising.
Mick Jagger, wearing a studded belt, with David Bowie, who's breaking the unwritten rule that you never wear a belt and braces at the same time. I think we can let him off just this once.
As champions of classic men’s style, this conundrum has us divided at Mason & Sons. Some of the team prescribe to braces; they transfer the tension from the waist to the shoulders and this allows trousers to elegantly drape downwards, and they can also add some needed flair to suiting. On the other hand, some of us prefer the simplicity of the belt; it’s an idiot-proof tool, it can pair rather well with dress shoes, looks great with denim, and always manages to adds a little texture and character.
One thing is for certain though: you never wear both at the same time (unless you’re David Bowie, that is) and you certainly don’t wear braces when your trousers are fitted with belt loops. We’re looking at you Daniel Craig, who can be seen here in the upcoming and delayed No Time To Die committing a serious faux-pas.
So, to battle it out, herein four members of the team present their arguments for belts and braces and pick a highlight of theirs from our online offering from the likes of Albert Thurston, Pendragon, Awling and our house line Mason & Sons.
David Mason - Team Braces
Steve McQueen while filming The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) clearly knew how to style braces.
The practice of applying belt loops to trousers is something that has always been frowned upon by Savile Row tailors, preferring to offer their clients DAKS-tops or side-strap & buckles to support their britches. Positioning these devices at the side of the waistband removes any unnecessary bulk from the front of the midriff – something that gentlemen of a certain age are generally keen to avoid. Belt buckles can be troublesome in this regard and would cause havoc with the lines of a vest (should anyone ever consider wearing a belt with a three-piece suit). Once set, braces ensure that the trouser waistband always remains at the correct height and, when worn with a waistcoat, ensure that shirts are not seen billowing between vest and pants.
After a decade or so of relatively low-slung trousers being the standard-issue, the tide has now turned, and it is a delight to see the height of waistbands back on the rise – together with a renaissance in the use of trouser braces.
When it comes to formalwear, Albert Thurston's Moiré braces are an essential part of my black-tie and white-tie outfits. Together with cufflinks and studs, they add to the ceremony of dressing for an occasion.
Elliot Mason - Team Belt
If it worked for The King, then it most certainly works for us.
Braces have always been reserved for dress wear and supporting my 13 oz flannel Mr Fish Oxford Bags. Without the need for either in recent times, I am siding with belts. Similarly to braces, I strictly wear belts with five-pocket jeans and always opt for a clean design. Pendragon's Richmond Belt is the perfect partner for denim and will last a lifetime, ageing well with the wearer.
Both the King of Cool and the King of Rock and Roll were heavy denim wearers, the former usually opting for no belt and the latter for at least one. I was gifted recently a brass "Elvis" belt buckle which would be perfect on the end of a strip of English tanned leather!
Ryan Chua - Team Braces
Gary Cooper looking possibly unamused despite his braces' best efforts.
Getting suited for the day ahead, my Albert Thurston boxcloth braces will never fail to keep my trousers at attention and without interruption. Belted trousers tend to slip down to your hips, which causes unsightly wrinkles around the waist that cascade down the legs. However, belts are the ideal companions to jeans, preferably one of both rugged and refined selections from Pendragon. These are to be worn with boots, naturally.
Take, for instance, Gary Cooper who proves the point for both types of support. As he lounges and dissects the intricacies of the role in his next film, he will arise from his relaxed state and with his trousers held perfectly in place. The only concern will be whether his character will dress for going to town or for a shootout at high noon.
Benedict Browne - Team Belt
Alain Delon doing Alain Delon with Bridgette Bardot in tow.
Picking a side here wasn’t difficult for me. I only own one pair of braces however I’ve misplaced them along the path of recent life but I have many, many belts which I wear with tailoring and casual attire, and everything in between those two wings of formality. My main argument for belts is that they last longer and age better as leather is one of the only materials that genuinely appreciates with age – the patina, nicks and bumps all have their own stories. They have more heirloom-like qualities, too. They're affordable investments.
Now, with the world on its knees and the idea of a summer holiday being nonexistent, I’ve been enjoying one voraciously through images of the likes of Alain Delon enjoying what the Côte d'Azur had to offer. It's hard to look beyond what’s beneath his arm, but the simple addition of the belt breaks up a faultless summer casual outfit. Awling, which is the latest name to join the arsenal here at Mason & Sons and can read about here, has just the ticket to add to this look with its Original Belt in Pitch Black with Pewter. Sadly, finding the other ingredient isn’t going to be easy.
Explore our range of braces, here.
Explore our range of belts, here.