Suspender Style Guide: The Backs Matter Too!

When it comes to suspenders, most people think about the front of a pair of suspenders and hardly ever consider what they look like from the back. After all, you're going to see the front the most - especially if you're wearing a blazer or a zip-up hoodie for more urban looks. But when considering how to wear suspenders, it's important to learn a bit about their back view. To help you get a clear understanding of what to expect, we created a video that discusses Y-back suspenders vs. X-back suspenders, and how both of these suspenders should look from behind. This information about suspenders in the back view can be helpful if you're just learning about how to wear either X-back or Y-back suspenders.

What Are X-Back Suspenders?

In X-back suspenders, the suspender straps continue on from the shoulder to the bottom of the back independently, forming the familiar "X" shape from which the term "X-back" is derived. You can think of this back style as being similar to a busy intersection. Two attachment points start out at different places, traveling along until they meet up, and then they go in separate directions.

Rear view of tan X-back suspenders with leather crosspatch The “rear” view of an X-­Back Suspender
Rear view of tan Y-back suspenders with leather crosspatch Same view of a Y-­Back Suspender

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 two attachment points helps spread the load better and puts less strain on each individual clip.

There needs to be some way to hold the two cross points together, and that's where the suspender crosspiece, a.k.a. crosspatch, comes into play. 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 suspender 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.

Made with Attention to Detail

The addition of a 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 to give you the best, most polished-looking pair of suspenders possible. The smallest width suspenders that leather crosspatches 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 1-inch suspenders, hence the sewn back. Our skinnier 3/4-inch and 1/2-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 the back of these suspenders adds a touch of pizzazz.

Rear view of red X-back suspenders
Rear view of red X-back suspenders with leather crosspatch
Rear view of red X-back suspenders with metal crosspatch

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

What Are Y-Back Suspenders?

Y-back suspenders are so named because the two suspender straps from the front come together, end at the crosspatch on the back, and then continue on in a single strap, attaching 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.

Rear view of navy and red Y-back suspenders with leather crosspatch
Rear view of white and navy Y-back suspenders with leather crosspatch
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.

Available in Clip-On and Button Styles

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 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. Now that you know more about how suspenders function in the back, you can decide on styles, colors and patterns that look great from the front to the back.

Full view of burgundy suspenders
Full view of brown argyle suspenders
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 the traditional dressy look of a Y-back suspender.