A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 17, 2010
“Belt and suspenders” (conservative approach)

People often wear either a belt or suspenders to hold up their pants, but not a belt and suspenders. Wearing both a belt and suspenders is to have duplication or redundancy.

“The greatest pessimist in the world is the one who wears a belt and suspenders at the same time” is a saying that dates to at least June 1919. The term “belt and suspenders approach” has been used since the 1960s. “Belt and suspenders” has been used in engineering, computer science, finance, law, government and other disciplines.


Wiktionary: belt and suspenders
Noun
belt and suspenders (plural belts and suspenders)
1. Redundant systems, affording mutual backup in the event of one failing.
He believes in a belt and suspenders, booking flights from two different airports on different airlines for important trips.
Adjective
belt and suspenders (not comparable)
1. (idiomatic) Having several layers of protection; redundant or over cautious
Not wanting to take additional risk, he went with the “belt and suspenders” option, purchasing both the extended warranty and the on-site service policy.

Investopedia
What Does Belt And Suspenders Mean?
A term used to mean conservatism and safety in lending practices. Belt and suspenders has been used to describe cautious bankers who demand loan policies be very strictly adhered to.

More generally - as the use of both a belt and suspenders to hold up one’s pants implies - it can mean having redundant safety procedures in place to eliminate all risk. The term can be complimentary, but it also can convey ridicule of the overly conservative. 

Answers.com
Banking Dictionary: Belt and Suspenders
Slang expression for an overly cautious lender, who takes an assignment of collateral plus personal guarantees from a borrower. It also characterizes a lender who follows loan policies to the letter, saying, “When in doubt, file,” meaning a new lien is filed at nearly every opportunity.

The Motive Web Design Glossary
belt-and-suspenders, belt-and-braces
‘Belt-and-suspenders’ describes an approach to web design where provision has been made for more than one method of achieving a satisfactory outcome. If one method fails (belt) then decorum is maintained by another (suspenders).

25 June 1919, Rockford (IL) Register-Gazette, “On the Spur of the Moment” by Roy K. Moulton, pg. 6, col. 3:
The greatest pessimist in the world is the one who wears a belt and suspenders at the same time.

28 June 1919, Sandusky (OH) Star-Journal, pg. 12, col. 1: 
The greatest pessimist in the world is the one who wears a belt and suspenders at the same time.

9 September 1920, New Castle (PA) News, pg. 4, col. 2:
SOMEONE has definied a pessimist as a man who wears a belt and suspenders.

Google News Archive
21 September 1920, Lewiston (ME) Evening Journal, “On ‘Suspenders’” by A. G. S., pg. 4, col. 2:
I think I have said that an optimist was a man who wore neither belt nor suspenders, a pessimist a man who wear both belt and suspenders and a democrat is a man who wears unions suits. I don’t know. A republican is a man who wears his pants buttoned to his shirt.

Google Books
Pipefuls
By Christopher Morley
Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page & Co.
1920
Pg. 38:
When one of your clients drops in, in the goodness of his heart, to give you his own definition of a pessimist — a pessimist, he says, is a man who wears both belt and suspenders.

Google Books
Modern Eloquence;
A library of the world’s best spoken thought

By Ashley Horace Thorndike
New York, NY: Modern Eloquence Corp.
1928
Pg. 236:
Pessimist — one who wears both belt and suspenders.

Google Books
Don’t say it;
A cyclopedia of English use and abuse

By John B. Opdycke
New York, NY: Funk & Wagnalls Co.
1939
Pg. 401:
If you are in the habit of saying attached hereto, then you are probably the sort of man who wears both belt and suspenders, and carries safety pins into the bargain just to feel secure.

Google Books
Indiana, an interpretation
By John Bartlow Martin
Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press
1972, ©1947
Pg. 180:
A pessimist is a man who wears both belt and suspenders.

Google Books
Speaker’s handbook of epigrams and witticisms
By Herbert V. Prochnow
Blackpool: A. Thomas & Co.
1955
Pg. 59: 
A conservative is a person who wears both belt and suspenders.

Google Books
May 1960, Popular Science, “World’s Fussiest Car Factory” by David Scott, pg. 94: 
Rolls follows a “belt-and-suspenders” duplication policy, which also accounts for the separate three braking systems and the quartet of V belts.

Google Books
Wage-Price Control:
Issues and answers

By Donald C. Shields and John F. Cragan
Cincinnati, OH: Campus Press
1970
Pg. 45:
A balanced but moderating combination of fiscal-monetary restraint is called for to promote the desired results. CEA espouses a prudent belt-and-suspenders approach to the fiscal-monetary-mix — given our uncertainties, it would be unwise to plan a large or abrupt shift in either of our major policy instruments while trying to offest with the other.

Google Books
Theatre 72 plays, players, playwrights, theatres, opera, ballet
By Sheridan Morley
London: Hutchinson
1972
Pg. 85:
It still failed, proving that even if you wear both belt and suspenders, you can still lose your shirt.

Google Books
February- March 1977, Mother Jones magazine, pg. 32:
Yellen wears both a belt and suspenders, the true mark, it has been noted before, of a man who takes nothing for granted.

Google Books
1979 July 9-16, New York magazine, “The $1-Billion Tunnel To Nowhere” by Steven Marcus, pg. 43, col. 3:
John Lindsay’s deputy budget director, David Grossman, was one of a handful of city officials who raised objections about the project’s cost and scope. “Your pants may fall down, so you wear a belt,” he says. “Some people wear suspenders and a belt. Other people—I suspect there are a very few of them—wear suspenders and a belt and keep their hands in their pockets. The engineers wanted to build the safest system possible—a belt-and=suspenders tunnel. They weren’t concerned about cost.”

Fox & Hounds Daily
Don’t Mess With The 14th Amendment!
By David S. White
Principal of David S. White & Associates, a real estate and general business law firm, West Los Angeles.
Tue, August 17th, 2010
(...)
The Civil Rights Act of 1866 had already granted US citizenship to all people born in the United States “not subject to any foreign power,” but the 39th Congress was very concerned (after all the bloodletting of the Civil War) about the constitutionality of the Civil Rights Act and thus wanted to assure that a future majority of Congress could not simply repeal the hard won rights of African Americans - what we in the legal profession call the ‘belt and suspenders’ approach. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Tuesday, August 17, 2010 • Permalink