Braces and Suspenders are basically the same thing, the word "Suspenders" being favoured in America. They are two long bands of fabric with a metal clasp or button holes at the ends, to hold up trousers, socks and stockings.
Sock suspenders were introduced in the late fifteenth century, consisting of a band of woven fabric worn around the calf with a suspender to attach to the sock. These took the place of garters.
For women, from about 1880, elastic suspenders were attached to a shaped belt and supported stockings. This is called a Suspender Belt and a picture is shown on the right. Instead of a separate belt, suspenders were also attached to the lower edge of the corset itself, pulling it down into position and avoiding riding up.
Usually worn by men, from the late 18th century, straps over the shoulders had button attachments to support breeches, pantaloons or trousers.
As shown on the left, decorative and embroidered braces are traditional wear in many forms of peasant or national dress. In the mid-19th century the braces often divided at the lower ends with two button-holes to attach to two buttons on each side (back and front) of the trousers.
Later the straps were crossed at the back and sewn together where they intersected, or another metal clip fitted. In modern times, elasticized fabrics were introduced to enable a better fit.
In 1881 the famous author of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain, received the first of three patents for suspenders. The first patent ever issued for modern suspenders - the kind with the metal clasp - was issued to an inventor called Roth by a US patent of October 1894.
Best Friends are Like Suspenders:
They Hold You Up When You Are Falling Down
by Beverley Benson van Horn