I recently received my first braced suit. That is, one designed to be worn with braces, featuring a high waist and fish-tail back.
When I first wore the suit it seemed that the front two pairs of buttons were a little too far round to the side. They were more on my hip than under my stomach, with the consequence that the braces felt like they would fall off my shoulder constantly. But then I’ve never worn braces before, so I didn’t know whether that was normal.

After a day viewing collections, and so trying on quite a few suits, I decided something had to be wrong. Every time I took off my jacket one or the other of the braces would slip off and have to be re-hung. Not exactly elegant.

Returning to my tailor, he explained that there were two standard settings for the buttons position. One, most often used in the military, is to have the rear of the two buttons sitting on the side seam of the trousers. This ensures that seam, often decorated on military dress trousers and so a point of focus, stays taut and straight.

The second is to have the foremost of the two buttons sitting on the crease in the front of the trousers, keeping that taut at the slight expense of the side seam. This is required on pleated trousers, where the way that the pleats hang is key. On flat-fronted trousers it matters less, especially as few men these days bother to maintain the crease.

On both options the distance between the buttons in a pair is the same. And as it is the rear button that sits on the side seam in one option and the front button that secures the pleat in the other, the difference between the two positions is not great. But it is noticeable.

The other advantage of the first position is that the braces cannot be seen when a man’s jacket is open. Unless he has his hands in his pockets and pushes the foreparts way back, the braces remain hidden. It was for this reason that my tailor went with the first position, as I had never worn braces before and seemed a little self-conscious about it.

He forgot to ask me what I preferred, though, or to take into account my sloping shoulders. The latter means my braces need a little more purchase than the average man.

So the buttons were moved. And now I know the next time I order a braced suit.

[Pictured, the braces in question, from Drake’s.]