Trouser Adjusters

Anthony Sinclair’s Side Adjusters in Dr. No

Though the go-to method of supporting trousers these days is the belt, English suits weren’t traditionally worn with belts. The Duke of Windsor famously went to an American tailor to have his suit trousers with belt loops made because his London tailored refused to at the time when the English were mostly wearing trousers supported with braces (suspenders).

There are many reasons not to wear a belt with a suit:

  1. A belt breaks the visual flow from the coat to the trousers, especially on a lighter-coloured suit. A suit should be a unified garment.
  2. A belt buckle disrupts the line of a closely fitted suit coat.
  3. A belt buckle creates a lump under a waistcoat on a three-piece suit.
  4. Trousers will sag during the day with a belt and need to be pulled up.

Only braces can truly solve problem 4 by suspending the trousers at a consistent height relative to the shoulders, but the other three problems can be solved with side adjusters. Side adjusters will still help for problem 4 because they don’t weigh down the trousers like a belt does. By the 1950s it was common for English tailors to make trousers with an adjustable waistband system to take the place of braces, and there are a number of different types of waistband adjusters.

Cyril Castle’s Side Adjusters in Live and Let Die

Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair suits all featured “DAKS tops,” originally made by Simpson’s of Piccadilly. The name is a portmanteau of “Dad” and “slacks.” The style has buttoning tabs on the sides, connected with hidden elastic across the back. One drawback to this is that the adjusters can only be tightened to where the buttons are placed, though the elastic helps for a snug fit. There are usually two or three buttons—often of mother of pearl—on each side, and Connery used one of the buttons on the left to secure his shoulder holster. Roger Moore also wore this style on his Cyril Castle suit trousers in Live and Let Die.

Tom Ford’s Side Adjusters in Quantum of Solace

Daniel Craig introduced another classic trouser adjuster style to the Bond series with his Tom Ford suits in Quantum of Solace. The Tom Ford side adjusters are two strips of cloth brought together with a slide buckle, though a more casual variation can be found that uses D-rings. As opposed to button-tabs, this style allows for an exact adjustment.

Other styles of side adjusters exist, such as a waistband that expands and contracts with a locking zip fastener. There are also adjusters that look like DAKS tops but don’t have elastic across the back, and thus they do not function as well.


  1. I’ve decided that the next suit I buy must come with side adjusters, but most off-the-peg stores in the US come with belt loops ,(although I’m sure you can name some retailers that buck that trend). At least in my part of the world, belts are thought to be a necessity of fashion if not always function. When I where a shirt, sweater, and trousers without a belt, I get disapproving looks.

    I’ve been thinking about buying a made-to-measure suit through Indochino. A friend used them recently and was very pleased. I know that their advanced settings allow for side adjusters (not sure which type) and things like functional buttons on the cuff.

    Matt (and others), what is your opinion of Indochino? Can you recommend them or other, similarly priced “bespoke” online tailors?

    I’ve come to think that they are my best option because even if I buy a suit at Brooks Brothers or one of my local upscale stores, I would still need to get the suit adjusted by my tailor. Seems like Indochino and the like would be much cheaper ($300-400 instead of $800-$1000) and would also cut out the tailor.

    What do you think?

    • I’ve heard many more negative experiences with Indochino than positive. It also doesn’t help my confidence that most of their models wear poorly-fitting suits. If you’re going to have a suit made for you, the tailor making the suit needs to measure you. Having someone else measure you is the biggest problem because of the many subtleties in tailoring a jacket. There are some less expensive Hong Kong tailors that travel the world and could make you a less expensive suit. Another option could be to buy a suit off the rack, have the belt loops removed and use the extra fabric cut off from the trousers to construct side adjusters.

      • Thank you, Matt!

        I’ve heard of some other services like the ones in Hong Kong you mentioned that will come to your house or office and measure you. Have you ever used one you can recommend?

        If not, I do trust my local tailor. She can’t make me a suit, but maybe I can pick up one locally and, if she is willing, try your suggestion with the belt loops.

        Is there a retailer you like best for their fit? I have Brooks Brothers, Men’s Warehouse, and Jos. A. Bank locally (although my Bank store only sells suit pants with pleats and I kind of hate MW). At least here, the BB people are the only ones that seem to know what they are talking about.

        I do have a couple other, locally owned men’s stores as well. They have an annual summer sale, so maybe I could catch on of those.


      • I have never used any tailors from Hong Kong. Most don’t visit homes and offices but usually work out of a hotel. is one of the better ones, but they do cost more than places like Indochino. Good suits will start around $700-800.

        Out of the retailers you mentioned, only Brooks Brothers sells anything worthy of the cost of adding side adjusters. Their Regent suit is the most attractive model (the others are too American), though the trousers on all their suits have a low rise. Low-rise trousers don’t look good with suits because it breaks up the jacket and trousers. Their trousers only fit well if you are very short. They used to sell trousers with English-style forward pleats, which is a great style for side adjusters, but that was years ago. See if some of the other retailers in your area sell something better. The only American clothing companies I like are Polo Ralph Lauren and Paul Stuart. They have the best fit for me. Polo Ralph Lauren suits can be found on sale, though they normally cost almost twice that of Brooks Brothers. Ralph Lauren Black Label is around the same price but has a more athletic fit. Purple Label costs significantly more than that. Black and Purple Label suits almost always have side adjusters.

      • I got some clothes from them a few years ago. The fabrics are nice. The clothes have an awkward cut. The jacket shape is too suppressed in a way that the human body isn’t. The trousers have a curved waistband that only works as low rise. They offered another model to me with a traditional shape that I quite like, but I’m not sure they still have it.

      • @ Matt Spaiser Thank you for the response. Is there any particular online MTM suit company you prefer / recommend?

      • If we’re just talking trousers, Spier & Mackay are quite good. They offer high rise and also side adjusters if desired.

  2. A great Honk Kong tailor is WW Chan. The suits (without the fabric) starts at 1000USD. But I would go for a RTW suit, remove the loops and use the material from the unhemmed trousers to create the adjusters by your tailor. I have never seen Tom Ford suits without adjusters. But Tom Ford is another price range (3k plus for RTW). You can also check ebay or for Tom Ford suits with discount (between 30% – 80% off).

  3. “Daks” adjusters isn’t a portmanteau – it comes from the tailoring company Daks, which pioneered the said waistband style.

  4. Matt, does removing belt loops and making side adjusters from the excess fabric actually work, and does it look good? Have you ever done that to your trousers? What type of adjusters would you recommend?

    • I’ve never tried it, but I’ve considered it. I can’t see any reason why it shouldn’t work, as long as your tailor knows how to do them properly. The kind Tom Ford uses would probably be best. The button type obviously can’t be done since the trouser waistband would need to be reconstructed. Us the type of slide buckle seen on the Tom Ford trousers here, and it’s the kind most Savile Row tailors use. Do not use D-rings because they really don’t work. I’m wearing a pair of trousers with D-rings today and I often have to adjust them. On another pair I’ve sewn the D-ring tabs together.

  5. Matt,

    How about an article or just an answer to this question :
    why prefer belts to side adjusters ? are there any objective advantages to it, besides personal preferences ?
    I am asking because since Brosnan and Craig in CR always wore a belt, perhaps Mrs. Hemming had a particular reason of him/them doing that, apart from the fact that Brioni suits trousers never had side adjusters (after all, they could certainly do them bespoke).

  6. Matt,

    You mention side adjusters that use a locking zip fastener, do you have any pictures of them? I’ve never come across anything like that, and I’m curious about how they work.

  7. I have had great luck with Modern Tailor. I had them add side adjusters to the newer trousers. As for the older ones, I bout the buckles from Kenton Trimmings from UK and had my tailor in the US remove the hem and use it as the material for the adjusters. The end result was great.

  8. I’m getting side adjusters on my next suit, the question I have is which style. The DAKS style look better to me, from what I have read on this blog they are better at holding up heavier weight cloth, although that won’t be an issue with this suit, and I believe Matt, correct me if I’m wrong, last longer than the slide buckle style. The only advantage I can see with the slide buckle is exact fit, which I suppose is a big advantage.

    I have had slide buckle style adjusters but I wanted to go with the DAKS style. However, I remember reading on this blog Matt that if you were dressing James Bond you would pick the slide buckle style. Why is that? I know you have had the DAKS style as well, would you not get DAKS again? I’m really considering DAKS style but I don’t want to get them if that would be a mistake.

    • From personal experience with both, I find that the slide buckle side adjusters work much better. They probably last longer too because the elastic in DAKS Tops can wear out.

  9. I’m think if the adjustment can be made inside the trouser waistband to creates this complete streamline look though

  10. Can anything be done about side adjusters pull tabs that don’t lay flat against the waist but instead point straight backwards? Pressing doesn’t seem to work.

    • Are you expecting them to curve around the waistband? Pointing backwards is fine; it’s better than sticking out. There may be too much extra fabric on yours.

    • I have the same problem with some of my trousers, Brian. From my experience Matt is right and it’s usually that the strips are too long, and you might want to get them shortened. If you don’t want to or don’t think it’s the case I usually just twist and tuck them into themselves.


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