Trouser Suspension: Country Trends

Figure 1.--We mostly see German boys by the 1960s wearing belts for trouser suspension rather thn suspenders.

There were only a limited number of ways for boys to suspend trousers. The various methods were used in most countries. There were, however, differences in the preferences from country to country. We note, for example, more boys wearing suspender shorts on the Continent than in England and America. We yhope to develp more detailed insights as we develop this topic. These preferences varied over time. There was some differences among countrues as to the time line. We only have a few country pages at this time, but hope to develop more as HBC develops. We are working on: America, England, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia.


An important elment of pants was how to hold them up. Various types of pants had features specifically designed for suspension like belt loops. There were various ways for a boy to suspend his trousers. Younger boys had a range of options, depemnding on his age and the types of pants he was wearing. Younger boys might wear a bodice, such as those worn with bloomer knickers. Underwaistrs were also used to hold up pants as well as long stockings. Button on clothing was another option. There were also suspender pans--although this was not as popular in America as it was in Europe. Related options here were bib-front and h-bar pants. Shortalls were another option. Some pants had elasticised waiss which were referred to as boxers. There were pants such as camp shorts which often had partially elasticized waists. Comparable long-alls were not as popular. Older boys might wear suspenders or belts. The various options varied in popularity over time.



We are not entirely sure about trouser suspension in England during the 19th century. The probem here is most boys wore suit jackets for formal portraits making it difficult to determin how the trousers were suspended. We note some boys wearing button-on clothing. We think most boys wore suspnders or braces as they were called in Britain. . We know more about the 20th century. We see many boys wearing suspenders. We see some younger boys wearing button-on outfits. After World War I we note more boys wearing belts rather than suspenders in the 1920s. As far as we can tell, belts were the predominant form of trouser suspension by the 1930s. We do not see many boys wearing suspender shorts as were common on the Continent. Many suits, however, were made to be worn with suspenders, especially better quality suits. One popular belt style was the snake belt. I think this was an Englsh invention. I am not sure about the history of the snake belt, but believe it dates from the 19th century. It may have military origins. The snake belt takes it name from the S-shaped clasp. They were often worn as part of school uniform as they could be done in school colors. Elatic band shorts appeared at mid-century. They were called boxers in America, but I am not sure about England. Many school shorts were done with partial elatic waists. There were also shorts done with side tabs.



Our information on trouser suspension in Germany is limited at this time. We have, however begun to collect some information. Our inforation on the 19th century is incomplete at this time. We notice several different appraches to supporting trousers. The popularity and conventions associated with these different types of support devices have varried over time. Many are similar to trends in other European countries. Suspender and H-bar pants seem especially popular in Germany. A factor her may have been the establish fashion of Lederhosen in southern Germany.




An important aspect of wearing trousers and pants was how to hold them up. Younger children tended to be slender without noticeable hips which made trouser or skirt suspension a special problem. There were several sollutions to the problem of trouser suspension. Suspenders were the primarily method of suspension in the 19th century for both men and boys. This continued in the 20th century until after World War I. We see many Swiss boys wearing suspenders in the early 20th century. Suspender pants and H-bar pants became very common for younger boys. We are not sure how common button-on clothes were in Switzerland. This was a popular style in America, but it seems that suspenders were much more common in Switzerland. This seems to be the case of several European countries. Older boys by the 1930s were increasingly wearing belts. We notice that even after belts had become popular, we see younger boys wearing suspenders with belts (figure 1).


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Created: 12:03 AM 10/6/2007
Last updated: 3:52 AM 11/20/2010