Style / October 2017

Rakish Transitions: A Guide to Cuffs & Sleeve Length

The relationship between one’s shirt and one’s suit jacket is complicated to say the least, and there are a vast array of combinations to consider, as The Rake discusses…

Manolo Sweden’s Executive Editor Andreas Weinas sports a ready-to-wear linen jacket by Ring Jacket, complete with a four-button cuff. Photograph by Jamie Ferguson.

The overly long suit jacket or blazer sleeve is a surefire indication of a ready-made item of clothing. Shortening the cuffs is a relatively simple adjustment that significantly improves the appearance of the garment, so it should always be undertaken. Bespoke tailors will always leave finishing the cuffs for the final fitting to ensure the best fit. A well-fitting sleeve should expose some lightly starched shirt and frame your recently manicured hands, and it’s also an area for a little tasteful self-expression.

How much shirt cuff to expose is a matter of personal preference.  As a young fitter on Savile Row I was taught that the cuff of the suit jacket should be four and a half inches from the bottom of the thumb. I believe that this ‘rule of thumb’ originated with military tailoring and I have never paid too much attention to it when there were so many other factors to consider (not least the size of the customer’s hand). I prefer to show at least ½ an inch of shirt cuff and a little more for formal dress. If wearing double cuffs, the shirt cuff should fit neatly in the sleeve. Jacket sleeves can be tapered to accommodate this. Your cufflinks should be double-sided and whilst they do not need to match your wristwatch you should avoid any obvious clashes of metals or colour. Your wedding band does not need to match either, nor do you need to match the exact colour of your leather watchband to your shoes. Style does not lie in matching sets of things but rather the ability to combine and contrast.

If you wear bespoke or made-to-measure shirts, you may have been offered the option of having your shirt cuff made larger to accommodate your watch. I prefer both cuffs the same width to create a balanced look and bespoke shirtmaker Wil Whiting agrees that it can ruin the aesthetic and often suggests to customers “to buy a more elegant and slimmer watch”.

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Christopher Modoo

Christopher Modoo is 'The Urbane Outfitter', with twenty five years of experience in classic menswear. He has conducted suit fittings in both Beckingham and Buckingham Palace. He hates short socks.