The Magic of Suspenders

By Don Jarret – From Search Volume 3 No 2

Without having seen the contents of this particular issue of SEARCH, I can predict with confidence that as you turn the pages, and see girl after luscious girl, you will also see an abundance of a certain item in female attire which used to fulfil a humble but necessary role that of holding up a stocking: you will see suspenders. A visitor from Mars might find this very puzzling, as to an alien eye it would doubtless not seem particularly beautiful — basically, just a strip of elastic with a button and clasp on the end. Indeed, it hardly, needs an alien eye to react like this, since I have known many women who have been embarrassed about revealing their suspenders when they undress, believing them to be ugly. Our Martian’s puzzlement would increase as soon as he discovered that it is not even a current part of woman’s dress, its function having (alas) been made obsolete by the invention of tights. He would probably regard the whole affair as a final proof of man’s insanity, and go home.

We know that a suspender is infinitely erotic, but we may not be quite sure why. This is the question I want to try to answer, at least partially — for to me there is no end to the suspender’s fascinating power — in this article. I want to isolate the suspender, dwell on, it lovingly and thoughtfully, brood on it.

I hope you won’t mind. If you prefer tights — go on to the next article, this one won’t be for you. If you like suspenders, stay with me.

In front of me, on my bed, I have laid out eight suspender-garments. They are mementos of past love affairs. In each case I have begged, borrowed, or stolen it from someone with whom I was suspender-close, so to speak, even if I did not breach the final citadel. The garments still breathe the perfume and sweat of their wearers. Each one is a history in itself; but not for this article. Here, I am going to describe each garment in general, briefly, and then go into closer detail about its suspenders.

The first, and the oldest in time, is a white corselet, lightly bonded, front hook-and-eyed. It is rather soiled with the plump body of Rachel, whose contours seemed all the more exciting to my hands under her corselet’s stiffness as I gently eased her out of it, unhooking the eyes one by one from the bottom up, watching the creamy flesh ooze out bit by bit. Its suspenders are solid, wider-looking than some of the others I have; though in fact differences in width are usually an optical illusion, as I will explain later: most modern suspenders are three-quarters of an inch wide, and the suspenders of this corselet are no exception. It has two unusual features, though; its clips, for lengthening or shortening the suspenders, do not open up and spring back with serrated edge into the strap, but are like the clips on a bra-strap. Later suspenders could be adjusted more easily and quickly: I can even now remember Rachel having quite a little struggle to shorten her suspenders and so tauten her stocking over the plump, out thrust thigh. The other unusual feature, in comparison with my other garments, is that the back-suspenders form loops, the two ends of each suspender being attached to the base of the corselet, about four inches apart. This was very useful in preventing the suspenders from sliding towards the front of the thighs, as they often do when a woman is sitting. The front-suspenders have white ribbons attached to them, intended to cover the suspender-buttons both above and below — the latter, presumably, to cushion slightly the nub of the suspender against the thigh.

Elasticity: clipped to their minimum length, and hanging loose, the front suspenders are 4 inches long; clipped to the maximum length, and stretched to their uttermost, they reach the superb length of 14 inches — just picture that stretching down an opulent white thigh, hungrily gripping the stocking-welt! When we add the fact that a corselet-body comes much lower down than does a suspender belt, we can appreciate that this 1960 garment belonged to an era when skirts were longer and stockings could be worn much shorter. The back-suspenders have a minimum stretch of 4 inches, a maximum of 7 and a half: but then, the corselet came down well over Rachel’s generous rump. Even so, I can see now why her stockings at the back often seemed ready to rip themselves from the suspender and the super abundant thigh-flesh.

The next garment I pick up from the bed is a red, lacy suspender belt, with black suspenders, purchased by me from one of the new mail-order firms, for Siobhan, my red-haired Irish lass. There’s an all-black one to match, too, only in a bigger size: it’s mine — I wear it occasionally, in bed, with sheer black stockings. Both are quite narrow-waisted, which makes the suspenders’ maximum stretch — 8 inches — significant of the fact that suspenders don’t need to be so long these days. Stockings, when worn at all, must reach high up the thighs if they are to be decent with miniskirts. The un-stretched and minimum length of Siobhan’s suspender is 3 and a half inches — so they are by no means as stretchy as the suspenders of the corselet. The suspenders are lightly patterned on the edges; their metal Clips and clasps are black, and so merge somewhat into their background. Both the patterned effect and the unobtrusive clips make these suspenders seem on the narrow side; an optical illusion, as they are the normal 3 quarter inch. They certainly felt alright, as I drove, one-handed, my open sports car, with Siobhan tumble-skirted beside me, my left hand up there among her straining straps and soft thigh-flesh, and her red hair streaming in the wind!

The third, is a black nylon suspender-belt, its panel comprising two deep-dipping arrows. Suspenders: 11 inches at full-straining stretch, which is long, considering it has lost some of its elasticity with extreme wear. Jane, my pre-mini-skirt Training College student, didn’t have much money and wore these straps threadbare. These suspenders can be lengthened or shortened just by running them up or down the strap — i.e. there is no doubling-over, as is more usual. This means that there was usually a strap-end underlying the welt of Jane’s flesh-coloured stocking.

The fourth, is a deep-panelled, orange, satin suspender belt, with black straps. I love those suspenders especially -— and not only because I felt them first when sharing a lap-rug at a football match with Margaret and her too-steady boyfriend! She was jigging up and down with frenzied excitement long before the end — of the game! But no, they look wide and thick and reliable — good, plain, no-nonsense suspenders, yet with a touch of exoticism in their lightly-studded silver clips and silver clasps. They are not wider, in fact, but the plain un-patterned elastic and the dramatic clips shining out against the black, providing an interruption about half-way, make them look extra wide. Length: 5 and a half inches minimum, un-stretched; 14 inches maximum stretched to stocking burst: good and long, especially with a deep panel.

The fifth is a blue garter belt. a mere strip of elastic round the waist, and the straps rucked and clip-less and narrower than the others, just over | an inch wide. White ribbons hide the suspender-studs a little coyly. No wonder Monica’s stockings used to sag, with this wisp of a thing keeping them up. But then, she didn’t like any restraint, and only wore this to please me. She much preferred tights. I soon dropped her. I like a woman who is at home in a good, tense, tight fitting suspender belt or corset.

The sixth, is a black ‘Waspy’. Marion’s very flesh seemed to crack and grunt as I drew her back-laces iron-maiden-tight for her, and the sweat would run down the overhanging plumpness of her glistening back, and the suspenders (clip-on) cut searingly into her fat rump. They (her suspenders I mean) are 4 and a half inches long un-stretched, 12 inches fully stretched, as those back ones must have been. The clips are black like the elastic.

The seventh, is a hookside corset, pink, well-boned, a flowery-pattern on the front panel. The pleasant suspenders are solid, middle-aged, 1962 vintage, metal clips still shiny . . . and there are six of them. Marion was a widow of forty, a really heavy busty blonde, and she taught my comparative inexperience a lot. If we were going out for an evening, she would often call me into her bedroom just as she has fastened up all six suspenders tautly to her silk stockings (seamed); and she really looked magnificent with her silky-smooth corset encasing her opulent stomach and buttocks, and her severely-suspendered thighs quivering as she walked around the room. I could never stop myself putting my hand up under the stiff panel to feel the bushy wetness of her ample sex. After a long interruption, she would pull on silky pink directoires, and all that voluminous rustling silk embracing her suspendered thighs and bottom excited me anew. But back, specifically, to suspenders. Stretch ability: 5 inches. And remember, the panel came well down.

The eighth and last, is a white roll-on. Stuggy dark-complexioned little Linda didn’t go for exotic underwear. Suspenders stuggy too: no clips, only 2 inches un-stretched, 5 inches at full tension: but the roll-on itself stretches.

I have gone into considerable detail with these few examples of the suspender, because the important fact I wish to emphasise is the sheer variety of forms it can take. And variety is tremendously important in eroticism: variety within an established mode. Let us review some of the variations we have found, just in these few. Stretch ability: varying at maximum from 5 inches to 14 inches. Clips and clasps: some shining, silvery; some given the colour of the strap; some clips running up and down the single strap, most doubling it over to shorten it; some straps without clips; some straps doubled into a loop (the corselet). Garments with four suspenders; occasional ones with six. Suspenders ruched; plain; plain with lightly-patterned edges. Variations (if mostly optical) in the width; though here the manufacturers themselves could introduce even more variety — I have seen a photograph of a suspender belt of 1936 with straps that must be 1 and a half inches wide — superb! They are so wide that it has been possible to get a two-tone candy-stripe pattern running down them. The model, who is wearing beautiful sheer stockings on her shapely legs, and a pair of wide knickers with a flap, can be seen only as far as the waist, where she is holding her hoisted slim skirt. I would love to see the rest of her body, as the photo oozes sensuality, a natural sensuality: I get an erection every time I look at her!

So much variety within the simple suspender. And this is without even mentioning the added, vital factors of the knickers and the stockings. If we even started to consider the differing erotic effects of bikini-pants tightly slashed-across the suspender belt, say, or the effect of suspenders outlined under clinging silky bloomers, or vanishing into wide-legged french knickers … or if we considered the different effects of wide-banded welts or narrow bands; of seams; of stretch or non-stretch stockings or fishnet ones; of different coloured stockings … Or if we even started to consider the erotic and varied qualities of the body of the suspender-garment, of basque, corset, corselet, waspie, roll-on, pantigirdle . . . hookside, frontlacing, backlacing, zipped … of textures — PVC, leather, satin, silk, lace, nylon . . . the enormous variety possible even within the suspender belt itself, with shorter or deeper panels, colour, embroideries . . . this article would fill the whole issue! There are practically no limits to the combinations of effects possible in the area of the stockinged and suspendered female thighs, by comparison, tights are crassly, boringly monotonous.

I hope that by this time our searching, SEARCH-reading Martian would be regarding suspenders with more interest and respect, and congratulate us upon inventing them. But there is much more to say about the suspender. Variety is but one aspect of its aesthetic appeal; and beyond, or along with, the aesthetic, there is the suspender’s sexual symbolism.

Aesthetically, the female leg, beautiful as it is, ideally needs a partial interruption of its ‘flow’. Hence, in former days, the garter. Hence, in our benighted and betighted days, the frequent wearing of long leather boots. But the most pleasing ‘interruption’ ever invented is the stocking-top: first, a darker welt; then the lovely flesh of the upper thighs bursting out, the stocking-tops tugged into beautiful arcs (nature adores curves) by the complementary vertical lines of suspenders. Stocking-tops, front-suspenders and suspender belt-panel form a wholly satisfying ‘square’ concentrating the eye upon the pubic bush. Many women are aware of this concentration; they feel a kind of magnetic force pulling attention towards their vulva: stockings being strained up, suspender belt panel being pulled down in front of their curving belly, and the taut suspenders framing them, biting into their thighs. I recall a woman saying to me, I find wearing stockings highly dangerous nowadays. If I’m wearing them, I’m very conscious of my sex, my thighs seem far more exposed and vulnerable than if I’m barelegged on a beach. It’s as if I’m waiting for a man’s hand to reach up under my skirt and caress my skin. And if it actually happens — which it has, often — I’m a gonner as soon as he gets to work among my thighs and suspenders, I tingle like mad and can’t wait for him to go further! Whereas if he got that far when I was barelegged or in tights, I’d be feeling nothing like as sexy. It’s the mixture of clothes and flesh that does it, I suppose, the feeling of tensions around that region. I don’t remember feeling this quite so strongly when I always wore stockings, probably because suspenders and things were so natural they became a part of your body. But now — wow! Unless I really want to be taken by a man, I never go out on a date wearing stockings. Tights are much safer!

One might infer from this that at least some women have turned to tights so enthusiastically because they offer them an escape from bodily awareness, from the sexuality which troubles them because it’s ‘not nice’.

This leads us from the aesthetic into the psychological; and I would like to suggest that a major factor in the suspender’s fascination- for men is that it symbolizes the phallus. I would go beyond that, and say that it symbolizes the whole sexual act, male and female. Let me point out some of the symbolic resemblances there are. First and most important, tension. An unfastened suspender is of limited appeal; till it is clipped to the stocking-top, it does not seem truly a suspender. It resembles, in fact, the un-erect penis. While it is ‘In suspense’, it is fascinating and hypnotic; unclipped, there is a feeling of anti-climax. Similarly, the whole sexual act is movement towards a release of tension and suspension, a desire to turn the phallus into the limp penis; but as soon as this goal is achieved, there is a feeling of let-down. I am speaking physiologically, and ignoring for a moment the aspects of human affection which often counteract the physical anti-climax. The shape of a suspender resembles the phallus in general principles; both its degree of elasticity and its width — a wide suspender often has an exciting brothel-lee atmosphere about it — are important factors in its appeal: and I need not point out the analogy with the male organ!

The button, clipping into its metal clasp and trapping the stocking welt, is the yin and the yang, male and female coming together in coitus. The union of metal and elastic, together with the soft thighs, symbolizes the union of aggression and tenderness in lovemaking: butterfly kisses followed by love bites. I myself, when I put on my suspender-belt, enjoy varying the lengths of the suspenders, partly because of the variable tugs on my stockings like the movement of loins together — and partly because I like to see the clip biting into the elastic — as I like the vagina to clamp around my penis. The way stocking-welts and suspenders bite into the thighs also relates symbolically to the aggressive element in sex.

It is worth recalling that the very word ‘suspender’ — that which suspends, holds up — recalls the way we sweetly prolong the sexual act while paradoxically straining against our restraint. I am nevermore conscious of this symbolism that when I am wearing stockings while making love, and my partner gently, caressingly, tugs my suspender-straps up and down, up and down, in rhythm to our gentle thrusts. It was a heavenly feeling as though I were making love on my body surface as well as inside her. I respond in the same way — or maybe undo one of her suspenders and let its hard button and clasp join my phallus–root at the moist entrance to her vagina: good evidence that the ‘rough’ aspect of the suspender is as important to me as its soft and flexible side. The thrusting kick of the can-can dancer — obviously a phallic symbol — is after all classically reinforced by the line of her suspenders, bursting out of their restraining white knicker-legs.

But suspenders are varied enough to be all things to all men, and perhaps my own observations may not correspond with yours.

2 thoughts on “The Magic of Suspenders

  1. I don't know when this article was written - early 70's I suspect. It is interesting that when stockings were the fashion it was only felt necessary to have suspender belts with 4 straps or occasionaly 6. Today when stockings are rarely worn, it would appear that 6 straps are the minimum. To me, anything above 8 is overkill as the straps cannot all remain taut, (pressing into the thigh) and so lose much of their erotic appeal.

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  2. I reached sexual adulthood in the mid 60’s when all women wore stockings and suspenders and frequently a girdle or pantygirdle. We were exposed to the erotic delight of an exposed stocking top or, when luckier, stocking tops, suspender straps, enticing bare thigh and a glimpse of knickers. A carelessly crossed leg, getting out of a small car, the generosity of a sudden gust of wind were always there to offer the possibility of a sight of the amatory delights of a woman's underwear.

    The only porn available in the average newsagent was very tame compared to the kind of ‘top shelf’ magazines today let alone what is easily accessed online. Mags like Spick, Span and Beautiful Britons had little nudity except for the occasional bare bottom or naked breast. Most photos were limited to upskirts, exposed stockings, sussies, bras and knickers. Our exposure to the delights of the female body were therefore limited to the occasional voyeuristic peek up a skirt (or down a blouse) and the underwear erotica of these magazines. Little wonder then men of my era and age have a fetish about stockings, suspenders and ‘panties’.

    Many men will confirm that, given the moral restrictions of the day, it was very difficult for young men to purchase magazines like these and the only alternative for sexual stimulation and our prurient interest in the complexities of women was to resort to looking at (by which, of course, I mean using for masturbatory purposes) the underwear adverts in womens magazines or the underwear section of clothing catalogues. Although the intended purpose of these and magazines like Spick and Span was very different, there was little difference between the two. A woman posing in a catalogue photo was no differently attired than a woman in her undies in these erotic mags and the pose required both to face the camera blatantly and unashamed. If the intention in the adverts and catalogues was not to be provocative it still required the model to assume a similar pose and to appear to be sexual, attractive whilst undressed and happy to be seen in her underwear.

    This exposure to the erotic delights of old style women's undies and women in old style underwear cemented an erotic fixation, the mild fetishism of what is now sadly confined to history!

    On those wonderful occasions when you got to see up a skirt (fortunately fuller or shorter and more prone to unintended exposure) you got to see knickers not shrouded in encasing lycra and a good few inches of bare flesh. What’s more and often forgotten is that the tension of a thick suspender strap (notice they were far broader then than those sold today which have very thin straps) often lifted the leg of a ladies panties so you might even get a quick glimpse of a healthy bush for there was no shaving back then! The 60’s were a ‘space age’ time when everything modern was applauded so most young women wore nylon panties which were flimsy, often see-through, so there was a real possibility of seeing exactly how hairy what colour her bush was.

    But the vision of a woman in stockings and suspenders is not all. There is the astounding frisson of sexual encounter with a girl in old style underwear. When you were lucky enough to encounter a woman prepared to be a little less than modest nothing compares with the delight of sliding your hand slowly up a stockinged leg until the silken tension gives way to the coarse thickness of the welt stretched up into the clasp of a suspender strap with its taught elastic and then cool smooth naked thigh! Nothing compares in amatory frisson to the sudden encounter with bare flesh above constraining nylon. Nothing can match the delight knowing this skin is but inches away from the excitement of feeling a warm damp cunt protected only by soft nylon panties.

    These explanations of why men like me still find stockings and suspenders exciting are far more realistic than the pretentious suggestions in this article. Suspender straps do not have phallic implication, it’s the suggestion of a woman's sex they invoke so effectively. Women chose to abandon stockings for tights because they were more practical, comfortable and (in winter) warm not because they wanted to escape a sexuality that was quote ‘not nice’. Tights came in during the more liberated 60’s after all. There is a sad irony here. In the 50’s and early 60’s women were virtuous and modest yet wore underwear that was raunchy and enticing and frequently enabled a man to enjoy the sight of her sex. By the end of the 60’s women were more sexually active but safely entombed in tights that gave little away and made access to the pleasure of the vulva impossibly difficult!

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