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Suspender Style Guide: The Backs Matter Too!

X or Y? That is the question – the main question regarding the backs of suspenders, anyway! When suspender straps come up over the shoulder, they come down to meet in the center of the back, forming a V-­-shape. What happens to the straps from there determines whether the suspenders are X-­-Back or Y-­-Back suspenders.

In X-­-Back suspenders, the straps continue on independently, forming the X shape from with the term “X-­Back” is derived. This results in the suspenders having two attachment points in the back as well as in the front. Traditionally, most Clip On Suspenders are X-­Back for several reasons. First, many pants have belt-­-loops in the center of the back making it harder for the suspender clip to fit over the thickness of the material (pants plus belt-­-loop). With most trousers, the positioning of the clips on X­-back suspenders fits nicely on either side of the center belt loop. In addition, having 2 attachment points helps spread the load better and puts less strain on each individual clip.


The “rear” view of an X-­Back Suspender

Same view of a Y-­Back Suspender

Because the straps in an X-­Back suspender continue on uninterrupted after they cross, there are several different types of crosspatches used to keep the straps in place at the crossing point. The simplest way of holding the straps together is by sewing the two straps together at the crossing point. This is how our 1-inch Wide suspenders are constructed. The addition of leather crosspatch, which virtually all of our 1.25-inch, 1.38-inch, 1.5­-inch and 2-inch wide suspenders have, gives a more finished look to the back of the suspender. While this costs extra to make, we’ve opted to include it on these suspenders. The smallest width suspenders that leather cross patches can be used on are 1­-inch wide suspenders. However, we find that the leather crosspatch looks a bit too heavy relative to the width of these suspenders, hence the sewn back. Our skinnier ¾­-inch and ½ inch wide suspenders, and a few of our other suspenders, have a metal triangular piece through which the two crossing straps are threaded. The use of this type of crosspatch makes the suspenders a bit dressier. Since Skinny Suspenders are often worn for fashion as much as function, the addition of the metal crosspatch to these suspenders appropriately adds a touch of pizzazz.

X-­Back suspenders can either be sewn or held together with a leather or metal triangle crosspatch.

Y-­-Back suspenders are so named because the two straps from the front come together, end at the crosspatch on the back, and then continue on in a single strap to attach at one point in the center of the back, forming a Y shape. Because the buttons for button­-on suspenders are sewn on the inside center of the back of the trousers, all the Button-On Suspenders we carry are Y-­backs. For our elastic suspenders, the color of the single strap on the bottom of the Y matches the color of the front straps. However, on suspenders made of non-­-elastic materials such as leather, grosgrain, oxford cloth or silk, the single back strap is a neutral colored elastic (generally black or white) that does not match the color or patterns of the front strap. The addition of an elastic section to these suspenders provides some stretchiness to the suspenders and allows a more flexible and comfortable fit.

All elastic Y-­back suspenders have matching fabric below the crosspatch; non-­elastic suspenders have a neutral colored elastic section to provide a more flexible fit.

While the vast majority of our clip-­on suspenders are X-­back and all of our button-­on suspenders are Y-­back, some customers prefer to have clip on suspenders in a Y-­back style. Because button-­on suspenders pre-­dated the introduction of clip­-on suspenders, and because expensive suit and tuxedo pants are more likely to have pre-sewn buttons in them making it easier to wear button­-on suspenders with them, the Y­-back shape has come to be associated with a more traditional and dressy look. For people who want to combine the dressier look of a Y­-back with the ease of use of a clip­-on suspender, SuspenderStore carries some clip-on suspenders in a Y-back style. However, it is important to remember that if your pants have a belt-loop in the center of the back, you may need to attach your clip­-on Y­-back suspender slightly to the left or right of center. Clip-on Y-Back Suspenders are slightly narrower (1.25-inches or 1.38-­inches wide) and have dressy drop clips to enhance their upscale look.

With a slightly narrower width and dressy drop clips, these Y-­Back clip-­on suspenders combine the ease of use of clip-on suspenders with teh traditional dressy look of a Y-back suspender.