Old Before My Time: Sock Suspenders

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sock-suspenders-life-magazine

As a man gets older his tastes and manner are supposed to evolve. And yet, since crashing through the 30 year barrier a while ago (alright, 4 years ago) I’ve noticed a number of alarming trends creeping into my life. Firstly, I seem to need to pee in the middle of the night. Secondly, manoeuvring into a chair I have an inexplicable requirement to make an “Ahh” noise as I touchdown. I’m sat hear writing this on a Saturday night (dear Lord…); And now, I’m considering buying sock suspenders!

Read enough books on style and clothing you soon realise that while the English receive deserved praise for the quality of our suiting, shirting, shoes and they way they’re worn, there is near universal contempt, and some mockery, for our socks –or rather the type of socks we wear and how we wear them.

Nicholas Antongiavanni in ‘The Suit’ dedicates a near chapter to English shortcomings in this area; and the Italian’s, the Englishman’s natural sartorial nemesis, can be particularly creative in regard to denigrating sayings. But just recently I’ve realised they have a point.

Conduct an unscientific survey of fellow travellers on the Tube and our sins become obvious. Many men wear short socks barely clearing the ankle, others long socks but allow them to lazily slope down and gather at the ankle. In either case the result is the same –the exposure of hairy, pasty white calf. Others, particularly public school boys (read private school) have a habit of wearing hockey socks with suits, in materials all together too thick and heavy for combining with suiting.

cary-grant-seated

Just when I developed this appreciation for an elegantly crossed leg, with taut sock and no sign of calf is a mystery. But you only have to look at pictures of Cary Grant sat cross legged to instantly get the aesthetic.

But long socks, even with elasticated tops, will eventually make their way down towards the ankle. And so, I have reluctantly concluded the only remedy is sock suspenders.


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Andrew Williams blogs at BespokeMe and is based in London. His clothing label Bulldog & Wasp represents his philosophy that style is a frame of mind not just a state of dress.

Comments

  1. Dennis says:

    What, OTC (over-the-calf) socks are not an option?

  2. Patrick says:

    Haha, I just saw some on the Cole Haan website and thought “man I thought they stopped making those.” I figured people only bought them as a novelty item. Is there an advantage in being able to wear some other non-elasticized socks?

    Definitely not for wearing on dates or any other situation in which you might be seen trouser-less.

  3. Rip says:

    I came to the same conclusion months ago when the only socks light and smart enough to be worn with my suits WOULD. NOT. STAY. UP.

    The only socks I feel I can wear without annoyance now are black sports socks, as they are the only ones that don’t slide off my feet in my shoes.

    To counter that, and have the smart socks, I’ll risk the suspenders any day.

  4. Michael B. says:

    No. You must go here, now:
    http://www.viccel.com

    Over the calf _100% lisle cotton_, in your exact shoe size (!) with the only synthetic being a small amount of stretchy at the top so they’ll stay up. And even this little bit is wrapped in cotton.

    They are _amazing_ socks, especially for the price– under 7 pounds shipped.

    They offer “summer” and “winter” weight, but order the winter weight for year-round wear. The “summer” weight is just a bit sheer for my taste.

    The only negative, (and it’s worth it), is that they take 3 weeks to arrive to me in the US. However since the camels won’t actually have to swim the entire Atlantic for them to get to you, your delivery time should be considerably shorter.

    No affiliation here, just an extremely satisfied customer. Try a few pair and you will be, too.

    And please throw out the suspenders. :)

  5. Patrick says:

    hmm while the feeling of socks slipping down and having to hike them back up is irritating, I think wearing elastic garter straps would also take some getting used to.

  6. Kevin says:

    The Cole Haan ones have ‘shiny nickel buckles’ which cause skin allergies in some people (including me). Any other sources?

  7. Ray Frensham says:

    May I recommend http://www.fineanddandyshop.com – you will find them there. Excellent. Tell ‘em I sent you!

  8. matylee says:

    Indeed it is any important step toward the sock garters but it’s worth it. I have two solutions for the 2 problems mentioned. 1. To awoid over the calf sock to slip down – developed a simple device made of a 2 inch wide elastic band sewn together at it’s end like a bracelet exactly the size of my upper calf. I place it at 1 inch of the top end of the long sock. That’s usually 4 inches below my nee. Once this device put in place you just fold the remaining top end of the sock over the rubber band. I ‘developed these ‘bracelets’ 10yrs ago and they work perfectly without any disconfort.
    2. For under the calf socks (just 10 pc of my 100 piece collection) I use the sock suspenders sold at Hilditch and Key’s ;ermyn Street. Slight disconfort at the beginning but one gets very fast used to it.
    Voila
    Mat

  9. Ted B. (Charging Rhino) says:

    Of all the arcane, obsolete articles of mens’ toilette…please, don’t bring male garters back. They shouldn’t even be mentioned. **shudder** What’s next, the well-stuffed codpiece and tights?

  10. Jon J. says:

    I wear sock garters all the time with my suits. Nothing looks worse to me than saggy socks when you’re sitting crosslegged. I also wear them frequently at work. They don’t bother me at all. Buy the double grip sock garters over the single grip. I have about 6 pairs of sock garters.

  11. DandyLion says:

    I was given my first pair of sock garters from a friend. I wear them all the time now. I have 3 pairs. Now I want to try the double grip ones.

  12. Jon J. says:

    The double grip sock garters I feel hold your socks up better than single grip. Just a classic vintage look getting better with age. You won’t be disappointed once you try the double grip garters.

  13. Mal says:

    My dad gave me a pair of the sock suspenders for Xmas, and after some reservations, I tried them and they really do work. However. I would not wear them in any situation where they could be seen, unlike my braces of which I AM VERY PROUD.

  14. Garters says:

    I think sock suspenders are just fine to hold the socks of course, unless your sock’s garter is working very good that can hold it in place for long. I guess its better to use these socks suspenders than to look lousy with the falling socks on the ankle! Maybe if you are already used to it, it will be as comfortable as if you are not wearing anything at all.

  15. Rory says:

    I don’t think age has any thing to do with this. I am only 25, but have already succumbed to sock suspenders and braces on my pants for comfort. Basically, all guys needs are the same, but so called fashion dictates until we are too old to care. i am pleased to buck this trend, and hope many other guys will join me.

  16. Jason says:

    Rory,
    Couldn;t agree more. I have yet to try sock suspenders, but am very grateful for my pants suspenders as I like to wear my pants loose but don;t want my drawers to show. I am 19, and feel that comfort is more important than fashion anytime.

  17. Luke says:

    Rory/Jason

    I guess that you guys are right, but here in England I feel too constrained to wear braces on my trousers as i often remove my jacket. On a recent visit to the States, I did notice far more guys of all ages wearing braces on their pants so you must be more liberated over there!

  18. Pete says:

    Luke
    We call them suspenders over here, but don’t see any problem in being seen wearing them to keep our pants up. I have worn suspenders since i was 17, aa have all my elder bothers, father and grandfather. My youngest brother is 12 and he finds suspenders great.

  19. Javed says:

    Having recently trimmed my gut, I have secretly tried a pair of braces to keep my pants in place. Would recommend them to anyone, they are so comfortable, my shirt stays neat, and my knickers don’t show above my waistband.

  20. Raj says:

    I have always criticised my Dad, not for wearing braces, but for not covering them up in public. However, after a recent accident, my stomach was so tender, I could not bear anything tight against it, and borrowed a pair of dad’s braces. They were great, and I had to admit that although I had every intention of keeping them hidden, at the end of two days, most of my mates not only knew I was wearing them, but had let me know they knew! Don’t ask me how, but after the initial comments, the taunts subsided, and I now don’t care that folk know. I have apologised to dad for my unkind comments originally, and have replaced the pair I borrowed.

  21. Josh says:

    Two points come out from this thread.
    1. Braces are definitely more comfortable than belts
    2. Although most guys set out determined not to show their braces in public, it is virtually impossible not to do so – viz in the changing room, hand in pocket for handkerchief or change, or simply because it is too warm to keep a jacket or pullover on. Believe me, at 23 I know from the ribald comments I have suffered, BUT they are worth enduring!