DUPRS_0064 Misc. Suspender and Garter Pieces

Dublin Core


DUPRS_0064 Misc. Suspender and Garter Pieces


Miscellaneous Suspender and Garter Metal Pieces


This collection includes:
-13 metal suspender buckles and adjusters in various sizes, shapes, and designs
-22 metal pieces composed of 2 connected pieces featuring a hole in the center on the end
-4 small rings pieces that fit through the above pieces
-5 metal thin pieces with an opening on the end (supposed garter hooks/clips)


Unknown, Various


Selective Surface collection, West Stanley Park, Historic Chatham Township (modern Summit, New Jersey)


Drew University, Department of Anthropology, Drew University Passaic River Survey


19th century


Ava Valentino






The suspender pieces featured in this collection include a mix of buckles and adjuster pieces, along with other unidentifiable but related metal pieces that could have belonged to other areas on the suspender strap or garter belt.

An integral piece of men’s fashion during the 18th, 19th, and early 20th century was suspenders, or known as “braces” in Britain. Suspenders were composed of several diverse, metal pieces that fastened, tightened, and loosened the strap pieces according to each person’s desired fit and length. They were essential to keeping undergarments and outer garments in place, and served as a fashionable and decorative accessory. In fact, women and children wore them for the same purpose! Suspenders first appeared in 18th century France as strips of ribbon attached to the buttonhole of trousers, and were not meant to be seen or worn on the outside of garments. Beginning in the early 1820’s, British designer Albert Thurston provided a solution to the profoundly high-waisted pants men wore according to the fashion of the day. Suspenders that attached via leather loops were manufactured to replace the belt in these cases, since men’s pants were very high above the hip. Original designs show suspender straps made of tightly woven wool known as “boxcloth” and formed an “H” when attached at the back. They were made in two separate bands, with leather tabs and buttonholes, and one end adjustable with a buckle. Later designs were made in knitted and crocheted cotton, embroidered in colored silks, lined with silk, and featured an X-back that later transformed into the Y-back.

“Braces form a necessary adjunct to a gentleman’s wardrobe and they are generally pleased to have them prettily worked” (Britain, Woman’s Domestic Magazine, Patterns, Fashions and Needlework, 1865).

The design and function of a single suspender clasp based off of image Cat # 8.47.12 are as follows: “A single suspender clasp stamped from copper alloy sheet metal, plated with a white metal, was recovered from this shaft feature (Cat # 8.47.12). The clasp features a detailed, stamped decoration consisting of beaded bands with a small floral and scroll motif. A wide, flat hook projects from one long edge and would have connected to a large metal ring to secure the ends of the suspender. This mechanism would allow the suspenders to be unhooked at the ring, while the straps and ends remained secured to the pants.” (http://diggingi95.com/features/high-priority-features-section-8/section-8-feature-5-personal-accessories/)

The suspender end design created by E.W. Whittaker was patented on August 13, 1889. It features a design and shape almost exact to one of the suspender buckles in the collection (first picture, buckle in the bottom left hand corner).

Garter belts and hose (stocking) supporters were used to hold up men, women, and children stockings to prevent them from falling down constantly. For men’s garters and hose supporters, they were usually made of silk and came in various colors. A clip from the garter was affixed to the sock edge and were made adjustable to fit comfortably below the knee. These pieces were not meant to be seen, hidden under trouser legs. For women, a more intricate design was manufactured and transformed over decades that featured a type of belt with hose supporters attached on each side. They were long straps with clips at the end that fell along the outside of the thigh that was then connected to the stocking. An earlier form of this combination belt, the girdle (corset combined with supporter straps), was replaced with garter belts, as they were easier to handle and less bulky, liberating the female figure.





Unknown, Various, “DUPRS_0064 Misc. Suspender and Garter Pieces,” Drew University Library Special Collections, accessed June 16, 2024, http://omeka.drew.edu/items/show/697.