Brace Yourself: Great Moments in Suspender History
From Twain to Urkle to King, here are the people who rocked suspenders better than your grandpa.
WORDS BY Adam Matula
We can thank the Brits for David Beckham, Coldplay, scones, and holding up our pants. In London during the 1820s, Albert Thurston manufactured and sold suspenders (known in England as braces). Still in business today, Albert Thurston suspenders range from $49.95 to $139.95.
Twain Leaves His Mark
Samuel L. Clemens, widely known as Mark Twain, was not only a literary genius, but an inventor and designer as well. A fan of suspenders but not of Thurston’s design, Twain took fashion into his own hands in 1871 and procured a patent for an improvement to “adjustable and detachable straps for garments.”
A Hit Below the Belt
As men’s fashion changed in the early 20th century, soldiers were required to wear belts and lower-sitting pants, eliminating the need for suspenders. As a result, braces fell out of the loop until the 1960s.
God Save the Suspenders
In the 1960s, British rockers brought suspenders back as part of their proletariat look. Ushering in the 1970s, Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell), one of the greatest movie villains of all time, sported braces throughout the British cult classic, A Clockwork Orange.
Send Up a Flare
By adding buttons and “flare” to his rainbow-colored suspenders in the late 1970s sitcom Mork & Mindy, Robin Williams showed how braces could be used as a personal billboard to express political and social views.
Fit For a King
Larry King wasn’t always suspender royalty. His fashion sense consisted of mostly sweaters until his wife urged him to try braces after losing weight following heart surgery in 1987. “I put on braces one night and two or three people called in and said, ‘Boy, he looks good,’” King told TV host Shira Lazar. “That’s all I had to hear.”
The “It” Accessory As A Power Statement
Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) made suspenders a power symbol with his business-banker look in the 1987 film, Wall Street.
“Did I do that?” Steve Urkel’s (Jaleel White) quintessential nerdy styles in Family Matters featured thick-rimmed glasses, cardigan sweaters, and flood pants, which were held up, of course, by a pair of suspenders.
Known for his rapping, acting, and vintage style, hip-hop superstar Andre 3000’s statement pieces range from straw hats to leather suspenders.
Lookin’ Like Monae
Fusing simplicity and elegance, rising R&B artist Janelle Monae regularly wears her signature black braces with a white dress shirt on stage.
Featured image by Kontrol Magazine.
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