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Scot Invented Suspenders


From an article by Kath Gourlay in The Mail on Sunday, March 12th 2001

For more than a century, suspenders have been both a mainstay of women's fashion and the surest way to arouse the passion of red-blooded males. Yet new evidence shows suspenders were invented by an ageing crofter in Orkney rather than fashion houses of Paris or Milan. The discovery was pieced together by retired farmer Peter Leith who unearthed recordings from the 1880's of two 90-year old men describing an eccentric local called Davie Taylor. The recordings told how Mr. Taylor, who lived at a croft in the parish of Firth, was a well known 'genius' who invented 'a bib and brace sort of clasp for hooking his breeks up'.

Mr. Taylor was an 'unemployed draper' in the 1891 census while it revealed an apprentice draper called Andrew Thomson, 17, lived in nearby Stromness. Historians believe the pair were associates because, in 1896, a patent was lodged in California for 'a clasp serving to secure the stocking' by Mr. Thomson and fellow Orcadian James Dreever. Whether the patent was sold or borrowed by other designers is not known. But it was so close to the year suspenders first appeared that historians suspect it has a major influence.

Mr. Thomson's great newphew, Jack Rendall, said 'He was such an austere old man, I can't imagine him being young or even thinking about women's stockings.'