1900 Pattern Trouser Braces

Tonight we are looking at a pair of the standard British Army trouser braces used throughout the First and Second World Wars. As in civilian life at the time, it was far more common for men to hold their trousers up with braces rather than a belt, and a new pattern of trouser braces was introduced in 1900 and remained in use until the early 1950s:imageThe braces are made of white cotton tapes that cross over at the rear at a metal fitting which connects to two leather chapes, sewn for strength:imageAs can be seen I have had to replace one of these and rivet both for strength as the braces were damaged when I received them. These chapes attach to the centre of the rear of a pair of trousers with two buttons which pass through button holes on the leather chapes. The two tapes pass over the shoulders and then fasten to the front of the trousers either side of the fly, the arrangement on the front is similar to that at the rear, but provision is made for adjustment:imageBy releasing the sprung clip the length of each strap can be adjusted, then refastened to fit comfortably. This pair of braces were clearly issued as they have the soldier’s service number ‘2688613’:imageThis number is part of a block of service numbers allocated to the Scots Guards. Braces were considered ‘necessaries’ so after an initial free issue, a soldier was responsible for replacing any that wore out from his own funds. As such there was a mixture of issue and privately purchased braces in use, the issue ones were not elasticated so had no ‘give’ in them when bending over and moving which led to buttons on the trousers being pulled off regularly, by contrast elasticated civilian braces were more comfortable and required less maintenance.

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