Prepare to get twanging — because braces are back on the scene. That’s right, everyone’s favourite antiquated, elasticated accessories may have spent a few years languishing at the bottom of our wardrobes, but they’re about to come clipping and buttoning back into our lives. Don’t believe us? Well prepare to button it yourself, because we’ve got it on the highest authority: Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
That’s right, it seems that for the latest Bond film, No Time To Die, the MI6 clothing budget has expanded considerably — stretching (both figuratively and literally) to three new natty pairs of braces. Because, while we’ve previously seen the super-spy slip on a pair of white dress braces under his Tom Ford tuxedos, we’ve never seen him embrace the brace quite as casually as we’re about to.
From its informal suiting to its practical tactical gear, Daniel Craig’s final outing as the iconic character looks to be a little more forward-thinking in its sartorial choices. And that can only be a good thing. I mean, who doesn’t want to see Rami Malek’s villain, Safin, ping playfully at Bond’s braces? Exactly.
So, with Bond strapping on suspenders (no laughing in the back — it’s what they call them in the US) for the latest 007 film, how soon can we expect these accessories to escape the elastic binds of eveningwear? Because we’re all for a brace-naissance.
Henry Poole has been tailoring on Savile Row for over 200 years — and it invented the very dinner jacket that Bond holds so dear. But, of late, even the heritage British brand has been seeing a resurgence in orders for trousers fitted with brace buttons. It’s a development Simon Cundey, Managing Director of Henry Poole, is exceedingly pleased to see.
“It’s economical, too,” he says. “Order two pairs of trousers with your suit and it’ll add ten years to its life. That’s what we’ve been seeing; customers ordering a pair of trousers for the summer and a pair for winter. The summer pair have a straight top, and the winter pair has brace buttons.”
50/50 on the trouser front. They’re good odds — which affords us a neat gambling segue back to Bond. During the dramatic denouement of Casino Royale, after Bond anxiously ditches his dinner jacket during a life-or-death Texas hold’em tournament, you can spy a pair of White Moiré braces strapped over his strapping chest. These are the work of Albert Thurston, a London-based haberdasher who first popularised suspenders back in 1822.
So, as we near the original brace brand’s 200-year anniversary, what does Albert Thurston think of its rapidly re-rising popularity?
“Well, it was a surprise to learn that the wardrobe on Bond wanted some more casual braces,” reveals Paul Corben of Albert Thurston. “However, seeing the full outfit, it’s a look that Craig’s Bond pulls off very well. And braces, once you wear them a few times, will hook you. Sitting at a desk or driving is far more comfortable wearing braces as, of course, they do not dig in like a belt. They are also good for posture — as you have to stand up straighter when wearing braces.”
"Braces, once you wear them a few times, will hook you..."
“The world over,” Corben adds, “more and more young people are wearing braces as a way to express a sartorial image.”
Indeed they are. So we asked one such young person why he has adopted braces as part of his everyday wardrobe. Mathias le Fèvre is a 24-year-old style influencer, friend of Gentleman’s Journal, and avid brace-wearer. So why is he so keen to champion the look?
“It’s a nice detail to elevate your outfit,” says le Fèvre, “and gives you the opportunity to play with an extra element of colour and pattern. But braces not only serve an aesthetic purpose — they’re also worn for a real reason. When wearing trousers that are higher in the rise and pleated, braces help pull trousers upward rather than inward, creating a smooth line down the leg and pleats.”
“Also, I always opt for buttoned braces, and never wear clips-ons — as they can harm the suit fabric and tend to slip off at the most inconvenient moments. Always choose buttoned. It’s worth the £5 at your local dry cleaner or tailor to have them placed and sewn on properly. Don’t risk destroying your trousers if you are not experienced with a needle and thread.”
The influencer also believes you should pare things back with your braces. “I always recommend starting with the basics,” he says. “Black, brown and navy. That way, you’ll be able to wear them with most of your trousers. However, my first pair of braces had stripes — and they remain my favourite pair to this day.”
We’re not surprised. Paul Corben from Albert Thurston tells us that while braces are practically like belts, they offer the wearer the chance to express themselves like ties do. So, with that in mind — as well as the suave, sophisticated Bond stamp of approval — we’ve rounded up our three favourite pairs of these trusty adjustable accessories. Take a look, and brace yourself…
Albert Thurston Dove Grey Braces
Henry Poole Forest Green Boxcloth Braces
Favourbrook Leather-Trimmed Silk-Moire Braces