Trouser Suspension: Suspender Pants

Figure 1.--Here three German boys are shown with their mother in about 1952. The oldest boy is about 12, the middle boy about 9, and the youngest boy about 6. Note that they all wear suspender shorts of a kind. Image coutesy of the German Hosiery Museum. Click here for a more detailed discussion of this image.

Some boys pants came with the suspenders attached. Some could be buttoned on and others were attached in the back and buttoned on the front. Suspender pants were especially popular in the 1940s and early 50s. Suspender shorts were the most common, but there were suspender longs as well. HBC does not yet know about suspender knickers or long pants. We also note suspender long pants in America. There were even suspender jeans in America during the 1950s. Suspender long pant were most common in America. In Europe the suspender pants were usually short pants. We have note several types of suspender pants: regular suspender pants, H-bar pants, and bib-frontpants. There are also cross-front pants, but these are not really a style, but away of fitting smaller boys.

Suspender Pants

Suspender pants were pants of various types with suspender straps made in the same material as the pants. We notice many boys and men wearing suspenders in the 19th century to hold up yheir pants. Fashion designers in the early 20th century conceived of the idea of actually attaching straps in the same material as the pants to hold up pants. Unlike actual suspenders which were worn by men and boys, these susenders pants were a destinctively boys' style. Skirts were eventually made for girls with comparable straps, but we believe suspender pants for boys campe first. We do not hsave a complete chronology yet, but the style appears in the 1910s, and becomes a major style in the 1920s. We see suspender rompers, shorts, and long pants, but suspendrr kneepants and knickers were not very common as a result of chronological trends and age appropriate conventions. This was primarily becaude kneepants were going out of style just as suspender pants were becoming popular. Knickers in Europe were seen as a style for older boys as thus the suspender staps were not needed.

Cross Suspender Pants

We notice a few boys wearing short pants where the suspenders are crossed in the front rather in the back. Almost all of the imaes we have seen are younger boys. We do not believe that this is a separate style, but rather a boy wearing a new page of suspender shirts such as the younger boy seen here (figure 1). The suspender straps were often too long on a new pair of suspender shorts. Mothers commonly bought a child's clothes in a large size so he could wear them longer. Crossing the suspender straps in front in fact allowed a boy to wear them at the proper waist level.

H-bar Suspender Pants

H-bar pants seem very similar to suspender pants. They seem to have been especially common in Germany, but we have seen them in other countries as well. Most cimmon are H-bar shorts, but we have also seen other types of H-bar pants. H-bar shorts are very silimar to suspender shorts, except there is a cross piece connecting the suspendr straps in front. They look like ledershosen and perhaps for that reason were most common in countries where lederhosen were worn. Like suspender shorts, the straps were made in the same material as the pants. Suspender shorts were commonly eworn in America, for example, but we have rarely noted H-bar shorts. We do not notice this style very commonly, but we have noticed a few photograohs of boys wearing H-bar kneepants. We have only noted this style in Europe. We have not yet noted any example in Europe. This may be associated with folk styling, we are not yet sure. Perhaps the most famous type of H-bar suspendr pants are leather lederhosen, but they are not always worn with the H-bar haltars.


Perhaps the most famous type of suspendr pants are leather lederhosen. They were widely worn in southern Germany (Bavaria), Ausria, and Switzerland. Lederhosen were made in both short pants and knickers. Lederhosen were worn with attached haltar made in matching leather. Before World War II they were akmost always worn with the haltar. After the War, olders boys boys began wearing lederhosen without the haltars. Sometimes boys used the haltars with non-lederhose pants, mostly shortpants.

Bib-front Pants

Related garments to suspender and H-bar pants are bib-front pants. These were generally seen as play garments for children. They were generally worn by younger children, although conventions varied from country to countryand over time. here was, however, a work garment for adults--overalls. These were worn by children as well, primarily in rural areas. Overalls gradually were made into children's plat garments as well. We have noted bib-front pants in both shorts and long pants. The differenve between children's bib-front pants and overalls were the material, color, and size and design of the bib.

Suspender Pants Backs

While the fronts of the various kinds of suspender pants are quite destinctive, the back are all identical--crossed suspenders. We have never seen any different style. We only have a limited number of images showing the backs of these pants, but all the ones we have seen show the suspender crossed in the backs. I believe the same is true for the same kind of suspender skirts.


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Created: December 14, 2001
Last updated: 2:16 AM 9/26/2004