When I say casual, I do not mean business casual here. I'm talking about t-shirt and jeans or shorts casual. If there is a situation to break out the clip-on suspenders, this is it. You don't need specifically tailored pants for them and they don't need to be expensive to look good. There are just a couple of rules you need to know for casual clip-on suspenders. First, keep them a narrow to medium width. You don't want to look like you are wearing Gordon Gekko suspenders over a t-shirt. They will be overbearing. Second (and this isn't even really a rule) is experiment. Yes, narrow black suspenders will look good casually, but they are almost too comfortable of an option. If you have never worn suspenders before and are cautious about breaking them out in front of the harshest of fashion critics (friends and family), it is easier to start with a plain, neutral color. However, because it is a casual look, you should experiment with colors and patterns. Don't wear suspenders that are the same exact color as your shirt and avoid clashing bad color pairs like navy and black and take it from there.
Steve & Co. - Red Thin Bracers €25 ($33)
Wearing suspenders with business or business casual clothing becomes a bit more tricky. At this point, some suspender aficionados will insist that you can't wear clip-on suspenders. I disagree just a little. Clip-on suspenders are still ok with business or business casual dress, but I would stick to wider versions that look a little dressier. Avoid the super narrow pairs that look more casual and go for a pair that is around an inch wide. This will have a more sophisticated look and work well in a business or business casual setting. You can still experiment with patterned or striped suspenders, just be careful they don't clash with your shirt. Absolutely avoid striped suspenders against a striped shirt in all circumstances. They will clash and you will look like you got dressed in the dark. Because of the nature of a business casual setting, I would recommend more muted or darker colors. You want to stand out with the way you dress, but not in a bad way, so avoid any bright or flashy colors. If you really want to commit to wearing suspenders in a business casual type of setting, I would still recommend going the way of the aficionados and invest in pants meant for suspenders and a few nice pairs of button-on suspenders. This is truly the classic suspender style and harps back to the sophistication of another era. When you are trying to pair suspenders with ties, look to match the suspenders with a prominent color in the tie. Once again, be careful of patterns and stripes clashing. While I won't say you can't mix patterned or striped suspenders with patterned or striped ties, it is a risky move. It is easiest to stick with solid colored suspenders that match with your tie or your suit. Last, but possibly most important, do NOT wear suspenders with a polo shirt in a business casual setting. Ever. I would avoid it in any setting, but if you really think you can pull off suspenders with a polo shirt, try it as a casual look.
Steve & Co. - Blue Braces Stripe €35 ($47)
This pair will look great in a business casual setting
Steve & Co. - Black Plain Bracers €40 ($54)
This pair allows you to either use a clip-ons or button-ons. Go with the button-ons if you are considering on becoming a regular suspenders wearer
Steve & Co. - Black Plain Bracers €40 ($54)
The double clasp option is another way to wear clip-on but get the styling of a button-on pair
This is the easiest and probably the least exciting time to try out suspenders. In formal settings, button-ons are your only option. Unless it's a cheesy school dance, always stick with a pair that is the same color as your suit. You want to look sharp, not like a clown at a nice event. Your suit needs to be made for button-on suspenders if you want to wear them in a formal setting. They will be tailored differently than normal pants to account for the suspenders and will look and fit much better than a pair of pants that had buttons sewn on the waist 5 minutes before you walked out the door. No patterns, no fancy designs, simple and elegant is the way to go.
Please keep the feedback coming! I know I still haven't addressed every single aspect of suspenders, so if you have more questions, leave a comment and I will either answer it there, or do yet another post on suspenders. If you have any other fashion topics you would like me to cover, leave a comment or email me at: YoungGentsGuide@gmail.com.