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Debates at Mogg Towers: Fishtailback or tabs on your trousers?


Bob The wardrobe builder

For those of us who wear braces with our lounge (and dinner) suits, there are a few little twists we can have in the style of our trousers to accentuate the look, but also to help the braces do their job better. In my opinion, braces are de rigeur, as your trousers hang more naturally and look more elegant than they do if you wear a belt or use some other means of keeping them in place.

We’ve already tackled the subject of side-adjusters in a previous article, and I must admit that if you are committed to wearing braces (as I am) with your suits every day, don’t get any of these type of fasteners on your trousers. I have them, they’re unobtrusive, but really not necessary for the brace-wearer.

Beyond this, though, what should you do at the back of your trousers, where the brace buttons are affixed? A very elegant and quite striking option is to have a fishtail back on your trousers. It is a very elegant look because the waistband is elongated and rises higher than usual. The additional fabric comes together in a V-shape which adheres to the anatomical proportions of the lower back. The buttons for braces are affixed at the top of this metaphorical tail. Thus, they sit slightly higher than the waistband. This is very practical, as it gives the braces a bit more length to work with, and means you have a bit more scope to adjust their stance.

Another option is to have a straight waistband, but have two thin bits of cloth, i.e. tabs, on the back of your trousers in the middle that rise up 5cm-10cm. The brace buttons are attached at the end of the tabs, and achieve the same height adjustment as the fishtail back. However, this retains a more conventional look to your waistband. It is equally as practical as the fishtail, yet is a bit more low-key and conventional.

Which is better? Well, that’s a matter of taste. My own inclination is often to go with the more flamboyant flourishes – the fishtail in this case. Having said that, though, on the trousers of my lounge suits I only have tabs. On a day-to-day basis, the fishtail almost seems a bit too much, a bit too affected.

One suggestion, which came from Herr Mogg himself, is that the fishtail back is something that could be done for a dinner suit, as the formality of the look lends itself very nicely to black tie. For me, this argument is quite convincing. For a lounge suit, like me, Max likes the tab option, which is practical and quite smart-looking.

So, what if both options sound appealing to you, and you can’t decide? Well, the way around this is to get two pairs of trousers made with your suit, and get one pair with a fishtail back and the other with tabs. As a rule, you should as a matter of course be getting two pairs of trousers with every suit you have made (the jackets don’t suffer nearly as much wear-and-tear as the trousers). So get two pairs made, alternate them, and double the life of your suit.

Whatever option(s) you choose, you’re going to look great and your braces will be able to do their job much more easily. BTWB/MM/YS