Belt Loops, Buckles and Braces

A Guide to Keeping Your Trousers Up.

However you decide to support your trousers is a matter of personal preference; whatever suits you in terms of comfort and style. The following explanations may help you to decide what is right for you.

Belt Loops

Some people only feel comfortable wearing a belt and there is nothing wrong with that, but it should be worn more as an accessory, rather than a necessity for keeping your trousers up. Around 95% of Ready to Wear suits have belt loops, which allows them to 'fit' most people as they don't have to be a perfect size in the waist. Due to the lack of choice with Ready to Wear, most people (especially those new to Bespoke) naturally assume that a belt should be worn with a suit. This is not the case. Around 80% of the trousers made in Savile Row have a different waistband finish.


The side strap and buckle is the most common finish forr most trousers made on Savile Row. Its popularity is, mainly, due to the way it looks: it gives a really stylish finish to the waistband and a moderate amount of adjustment for the waistline.

There are, however, two downsides to the strap and buckle finish that I have found. If you use the side strap and buckle adjusters to make the waist smaller, buckling it in, the only area that it actually adjusts on the waistband is the small area between the two straps. So, when you pull it in, it effectively creates a little pleat (just on either side of the trousers) which spoils the line and the way that the trousers hang. This isn't a great problem, and I certainly wouldn't advise people who are happy with their strap and buckle finishing to try something else. Unless, of course, they don't like the way that it pleats the sides.

The other problem that I have found with the strap and buckles is mainly a problem found on thinner people. The metal buckle stands proud of the waistband and, unfortunately, if you wear your jacket a lot the buckle can rub on the lining of the jacket; just on the sides of the hips. In long term wear, this rubbing of the buckle on the lining of the jacket can wear through it and cause a hole to form. As I have said, this is largely only a problem for thinner people, as their hips bones are their most prominent point so the buckles tend to stick out a bit more on the waistband.

On the larger gentleman, where the seat is the widest part, the strap and buckle does not sit quite as proud and does not hit against the side of the jacket, as it does on a much slimmer gentleman. Both of these problems are fairly minor and do not worry or even affect all wearers. They are the only two downsides that I have found with a strap and buckle.
If you find that either of these downsides are already or are becoming a problem, what I might suggest you try is a tab and button fastening, sometimes called Daks tops.

Tab and Button Adjusters

Having tried all the different fastenings and waistband adjustments and different ways of holding your trousers up, this is my personal favourite.

The whole back part of the waistband from the centre back seam, right the way round to the side seam, is actually made as a tunnel. In that tunnel, runs a part-elasticated and part-cloth band and at the very sides it goes into a point with a button hole and this then buttons up on two or three buttons on the side.

When you use this fastening and put it on a tighter button to make the waistband smaller, it draws this elasticated band right from the centre back through to the side and it takes the excess away evenly, right across the back half of the trousers. Because the excess is evenly distributed, it does not cause the same sort of pleating or pinching of cloth in any particular area. In fact it helps by throwing the excess cloth over the best area for it, which is the buttocks.

I have, personally, found this to be one of the most comfortable forms of adjuster for the waistband and am also fond of the way it looks. The only downside to this type of finish is that when the adjuster is worn on the tightest button, it tends to put quite a strain on that button. In the long term that kind of strain does cause it to wear and, eventually, you will need that button to be re-sewn.

Personally, I don't take my own advice and I wear my suits heavily. This suit is probably about a year to a year and a half old and in all that time only one button has needed re-sewing. However, it is something that you will need to have re-stitched periodically just to keep it nice and strong. Re-sewing a button is an easy thing to get done and, therefore, not a big downside.


The last alternative way of supporting your trousers is to have a loose waist and support them wearing braces.

Braces have really fallen out of fashion over the last 5-10 years and have, rather sadly, picked up an image of being old fashioned or even a bit stupid-looking as they are often caricatured; think Laurel and Hardy and Charlie Chaplin. But, a quality-made pair of braces really can look exceptional.

If you have never worn trousers that are designed to be worn with braces, then you really are missing out: this really is the most comfortable way of wearing trousers. Your trousers are always the right length, unlike with self-supported trousers where you can often be wearing them a little bit higher in the waist at one time and other times they settle a bit lower. Sometimes self-supporting trousers are little bit too long and you get too much break on the front of the shoe.

However, braces always sit correctly in the same place on your waist. The other advantage with braces is that the trousers are supported by your shoulders, which means that the waistband does not have to be tight to hold the trousers up. Because the braces hold the trousers up in the correct place ( i.e. where the crease line runs up the front and right in the centre of the back) this also helps to keep the trousers looking immensely sharp as it supports the crease all the way down; giving a better hang to the leg.

I do realise that braces are not to everyone's taste, but do note that you do not have to have your trousers cut high up in the back in that traditional fish tail style as people often imagine with braces. You can have the same waistband you would normally have (straight all the way round) and just have brace buttons put on the inside so you have the option of wearing the trousers with braces on chosen occasions.

However you decide to finish the waistband on your trousers, just remember that there is no right or wrong way; wear them any way you wish.

What I would advise is to never wear a pair of trousers fitted with belt loops without a belt. This is fine on jeans and casual trousers. But, on a suit, if you really never intend to wear a belt, then get the belt loops removed. It is not a big job and should not cost very much, but will do wonders for your image.

If you have any comments or questions about this topic, I'd love to hear them, so please leave me a message.

...or see my website... Savile Row Bespoke Tailor


Anonymous said...

Would you please tell me can I wear my tailored trousers without belt loops and side adjusters without braces?

William Westmancott said...

Thank you for your question.

The simple answer to this is, absolutely, yes you can.

What's great about doing this is, it is so rare to see trousers with no adjusters at all, that it stands out; not in an obvious LOOK AT ME way, but in a subtle stylish way.

I think one of the greatest things about handcraft bespoke tailoring is the ability to add detail. The subtle touches, the unusual and irregular, but all done in a way that is well thought out, intelligent and balanced.

There are very few customs and rules of dress that have to be observed in this day and age. Quite different from the turn of the last century. In most cases you are free to wear and do most things with your clothes. A great freedom that brings with it the need for care and understanding when it comes to the styling and detail of your clothing.

Some things work well together, somethings don't. Equally, what works on one person, doesn't necessarily work on another.

If anyone has any questions about this or any other style options, please leave me a comment.