Traditionally a part of a man's wardrobe, suspenders are elastic straps worn over the shoulders and buckled to the trousers. They were originally intended for the practical purpose of holding trousers up on the waist, but over time, became a fashion statement as well. This trend's popularity has ebbed and flowed since, but was alive and well in the 1990s.
Women wearing suspenders became particularly trendy in the 1970s, after Diane Keaton's memorable performance in the Woody Allen film "Annie Hall." This movie is widely credited with sparking a men's wear-inspired trend for women that included fedoras, neckties and suspenders. The trend continued through the 1980s, although popularity took a bit of a dip in the later part of the decade when Gordon Gekko, lead character in the film "Wall Street," reclaimed their masculinity in an iconic look that paired suspenders with a blue French-cuffed shirt.
In the 1990s, suspenders were not one of the defining trends, but were still worn. Perhaps the most iconic looks of the 1990s were the grunge and flannel looks of the early part of the decade (as embodied by rock band Nirvana), which later gave way to the baby-doll dress and thigh-high stocking craze that followed the release of the film "Clueless." When suspenders were worn, it was common to leave at least one suspender dangling around the waist rather than over the shoulder.
Suspenders were not as iconic as flannel or thigh high stockings, but were still popular throughout the 1990s. Female trendsetters photographed sporting suspenders during the decade include cast members of the popular television show "Saved by the Bell," hip-hop group TLC and actress Teri Hatcher. Perhaps the most famous suspenders fans of the 1990s, however, were males. Television host Larry King has made suspenders part of his daily wardrobe for decades, including the 1990s, and fictional character Steve Urkel from the television show "Family Matters" always wore a pair.
In the 1990s, although suspenders themselves were not rampant, many similar looks were very popular. Women wore vests throughout the decade, whether in dark, solid colours or brightly flowered patterns. Denim overalls were another trend. Both in shorts (known as "bib" overalls) or full-length trousers, it was common to leave one buckle undone and the straps hanging about the sides.
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