Suspenders have been helping men keep their pants (and their level of handsomeness) high for more than a century.
Whether you’re rocking classic leather suspenders or more modern elastic suspenders, the key to achieving the perfect blend of fashion and function is to make sure you’ve got the correct size to fit your body and style.
In this guide I’ll walk you through an easy step-by-step process you can use to make sure you get the perfect fit for style, comfort and maximum functionality.
How to Measure for Men’s Suspenders
An Easy Way to Get a Great Fit
Tools You’ll Need
- Measuring tape
- Mirror (full-length or wall mounted)
- Notepad and pen (or notes app)
Before we get to the actual measuring method, you’ll need to have a couple things on hand to make sure you get precise measurements.
First, make sure you have a flexible tape measure, like the kind used by tailors and professional clothiers.
(The one listed below is available on Amazon for four bucks, and you get free shipping if you have Prime.)
You’ll also want to have a mirror, preferably full-length, and a notepad (or the notes app on your mobile device) to record your measurements.
If You Don’t Have a Soft Tape Measure:
If you don’t have a soft tape measure and don’t want to buy one, you can use the same method below using a rope, string or some other cord.
(I find the fabric belt of a house coat to work pretty well.)
Follow the steps below using whatever cord you can find, but make sure to mark the length of the cord.
You can then lay it flat on the ground, and use a ruler or construction measuring tape to find the length in inches.
The Step-by-Step Measuring Process
Once you’ve got the right tools in hand, getting an accurate suspender size is pretty easy.
Here are a few simple steps that will help you determine the total length of the suspender you need.
Start from the Front:
Place the end of the measuring tape at the point where the suspender will attach in the front, which is typically along the waistband, near the top of your front belt loop.
Go over the Shoulder:
Extend the tape over the top of your shoulder, on the same side that you started on the front.
Some suspender styles cross and form an X at the back, giving the impression that the suspender strap crosses to the other side.
But don’t worry: you don’t have to measure over your opposite shoulder to get the right measurement.
You only need to take the measurement on one side of your body; if you do it right, you’ll be able to find the right suspender length for any style of suspenders.
End at the Back:
The tape should then go down your back to the point where the suspender will attach in the back, which is again at the top of the pants, usually near the top of the rear center belt loop.
Measure in Inches:
Most suspenders are sized in inches. Measure the length of the tape from the front attachment point to the back attachment point in inches and record the size.
Choose the Closest Size:
When you have your measurement, compare it to the size charts of the suspenders you’re considering buying.
Remember, suspenders can be adjusted using the length regulators, so you don’t need an exact measurement.
It’s better for them to be a bit too long rather than too short, because you can always use the metal adjuster to tighten up larger sizes.
So if your measurement falls between two sizes, opt for the larger size.
Consider your Height:
Some suspenders are sized by height rather than specific measurements. In this case:
- Short: For individuals 5’5″ and under.
- Regular: For individuals between 5’6″ and 5’11”.
- Tall: For those 6′ and taller.
Factor in Body Type:
If you have a larger build, it might be beneficial to add a couple of inches to your measurement for comfort.
Try ‘Em On (if Possible):
If possible, it’s always a good idea to try suspenders on before purchasing or ensure there’s a good return/exchange policy if you’re ordering online.
A quick note on width:
Suspenders also come in different widths, from skinny to wide, but width is really a matter of style more than fit.
If you’re a big guy, wider suspenders will probably work well, while skinnier guys will want to stick with thinner strappers.
Straying from this rule of thumb runs the risk of having your suspenders work against your style.
For instance, really thing suspender straps make big guys look huge (and not in a good way), because the straps look like they’re getting swallowed up by your chest and torso.
Meanwhile, skinny guys who opt for wide straps end up looking tiny, because the straps cover a comparatively large portion of your chest.
This tends to infantilize you, and make you look more like a kid wearing a costume than a grown man wearing a classic accessory.
Understanding the Different Types of Suspenders
Beyond the aforementioned leather and elastic options, the world of suspenders is vast.
You’ve got button suspenders, fabric suspenders, the original Perry suspender, and even the more specialized uBee Perry suspender.
The fundamentals of fit are the same for each, but it’s good to know which type you’re working with before getting started.
Maintenance and Wear:
Over time, even the best elastic straps can lose elasticity. And with enough time and wear, leather stretches as well, in addition to fraying or tearing over time.
So the best practice is to give your suspenders a quick inspection before each wear, especially if it’s a pair that you’ve had for a long time.
A well made pair of suspenders could last for years, but it depends on how often you wear them and how hard you are on them.
How do I know what size suspenders I need?
Measure from the top of your front belt loop, over your opposite shoulder, to the top of the rear center belt loop. Consult the brand’s size chart with this measurement.
How should my suspenders fit?
Suspenders should fit snugly, holding up your trousers without digging into your shoulders or causing discomfort.
Do suspenders have different sizes?
Yes, suspenders come in various sizes, often categorized as small, medium, large, etc., based on length. Always refer to brand-specific size charts in order to choose the right size suspenders for you.
How do you measure a child for suspenders?
You can use the same method listed above to find the correct sizing—it might just be harder to get them to stay still! Measure from the child’s front pant waistband, over the shoulder, to the back waistband. Ensure a snug, but not tight fit for comfort.
And with kids I definitely recommend opting for elastic suspenders, which will give them more flexibility to move, jump, play and (if they’re anything like my kids) run around like maniacs.
More Resources ↓
More Measurement Guides from Irreverent Gent:
- The Quickest, Most Effective Way to Measure Your Sleeve Length
- How to Measure Your Inseam
- How to (Accurately) Measure Belt Sizes for Men
More Insightful (and of course, Irreverent) Men’s Style Advice:
- The Best Colors for Men’s Pants
- Public Rec Pants Review
- Western Rise Pants Review
- How to Wear a Suit: A (Ridiculously Comprehensive) Guide to Suiting Up in Style
- The Most Stylish, Stretchy & Comfortable Suits for Men
- The Best Peaky Blinders Suits for Sale Online
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- The Best Suit Brands for Men of Every Shape, Size & Budget
- The Best Men’s Wrinkle Free Dress Pants & Casual Pants