Braces are straps worn over shirts which sit on the shoulders fastening to the trousers with a clip or button in order to hold them up. The braces can vary in fabrics, but are usually made of leather, rayon or an elasticated or woven fabric. Men usually wear braces but since the year 2000 more women have used them as part of a boy girl look.

They were created in 1822, but have shown similar designs over the past 300 years prior to that date. Braces were mainly worn during the middle of the 1800s and the early 1900s. At that time, the trousers of which were fashioned could not withhold a belt and so braces would be worn, crossing over securely at the back usually covered by a waistcoat that paired with the traditional men’s attire.

During the 1930s, however, braces became unpopular as men began to wear belts, choosing to discard waistcoats as they were associated with hiding braces. They did come back on trend during the 1940s though and ever since some decades have chosen to fashion them.

The 1970s proved braces to be popular amongst skin heads who wore them unconventionally, differing in size and colour. Since then, historical dramas or films have shaped the decision of wearing them yet now they tend to be added as a design feature or vintage style rather than worn for function or practicality.

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Written by Hollyann Prince

Hollyann Prince, graduating in International Fashion Business at Nottingham Trent University next year, currently writing the Silhouette & Looks and Accessories section of the Dictionary for Catwalk Yourself. A lover of fashion history and everything unique.

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