Should Men Wear Cuffed Pants? | A Guide To Trouser Cuffs
You might not realize it but you face a critical decision when buying dress pants. Do you go cuffed or uncuffed? Should men wear cuffed pants and why?
Everything from your body type, your height, and the pant style go into this one decision, and making the wrong one can drastically change the stylishness of the pant.
Fortunately, there is plenty of information out there to help you avoid making the wrong decision and we have collected it all for you below.
In this article we'll cover:
- What are cuffed pants?
- Are cuffed pants in style?
- Should men wear cuffed pants?
- How should men wear cuffed pants?
- When should men wear cuffed pants?
What Are Cuffed Pants?
Cuffs are the turned-up margin of trouser bottoms. This feature serves the basic purpose of protecting the bottom of pants from fraying or any other kind of damage.
Hems have the bottom fabric folded inside when they are finished at the factory. This is how the vast majority of pants are finished such as a man's trusty Levi's.
So the story goes, pant cuffs were invented in the 1890s. It all started with the playboy son of Queen Victoria, the future King Edward VII. He had his pant legs tailored to avoid getting his royal trousers soaked with mud and water from puddles.
Whether that's true or not, this style innovation made it to America in the early 20th century. Cuffs have been in and out of fashion ever since. Pant cuffs were ‘in' in the 1920s and 30s. Then they were ‘out' with the fabric rationing and austere style of the 40s but back in the 60s. But wait, they were out in the 70s and back again in the 80s…and so it goes on.
Since then, cuffed pants remain a mark of quality in bespoke tailored pants as well as off-the-rack pants.
Cuffs are a stylish embellishment to a properly fitted pair of pants. They are also a helpful tool in accentuating individual features.
Cuffed pants are considered the dressier option when wearing a standard suit or odd trousers. But, they are not to appear on black-tie tuxedo pants.
Are Cuffed Pants In Style?
Cuffs come in and out of fashion. But, they are a permanent fixture of classic men's style when worn properly. They show the wearer has literally gone the extra inch to stand out.
Cuffs come at a cost but add a whole new dimension to what would otherwise be standard slacks.
Should Men Wear Cuffed Pants?
Advantages of cuffed pants
- Extra Fabric – Why is extra fabric an advantage? Because it's damage insurance. If the hems of your trousers get frayed, stained or torn you've got extra fabric to replace it with.
- Extra Weight – Extra weight means your pants drape better. It's particularly good on pleated pants for giving the pleats their correct shape.
- Casual Style – Cuffs are a great look for casual suiting and trousers like grey flannels and tweeds. Although too informal for tuxedo pants, cuffs can make casual pants (tweed or men's corduroy trousers for example) look smarter. This is because cuffed pants take more work and fabric to produce which lends an association of quality.
- Flatter Tall Men – Cuffed pants give more weight to your shoes and better balance your proportions. If you're a taller guy, go for 1.25-1.5 inch cuffs to get everything in proportion.
- Unique – Right now, most trousers are cuff-less, and this is a small detail to help set you apart from the herd.
Disadvantages of cuffed pants
- Extra fabric, extra work – Yes, it's also a disadvantage. The extra fabric and work needed to produce cuffed pants cost extra.
- Can fall down – If you don't have your trouser cuffs sewn in place, they're liable to come unfolded. This will leave you trampling in puddles of fabric and destroying it underfoot.
- Informal – Cuffed dress pants is something men should not wear to a job interview. Informality also means this isn't an option for black tie or an all-purpose suit.
- Can make you look shorter and heavier – If you're wondering what looks good on short guys, make sure you choose 1? cuffs so the proportions are right. If you want to avoid looking any bulkier, steer clear. On the other hand, if you'd like to add some bulk to your frame, cuffs can help.
- Not as sharp – This one is a matter of opinion, but most style experts agree pants look cleaner and sharper with no cuffs.
How Should Men Wear Cuffed Pants?
Cuffs are considered a step above because they require more material and needlework. This is why it is a rare feature to find in the world of ready-to-wear suits.
However, cuffs can be added to any pants that have enough material at the bottom to be let out. Just follow the golden principles of pant length:
- The bottoms should be slanted so the hem rests slightly lower on the top of the shoe heel.
- Pants should be worn with a slight ‘break' on the front of the shoe.
- As a final check, make sure your pants are long enough to cover your socks when you walk. Plus, wide enough to conceal your shoelaces.
If you like the cuffed look then you can make it permanent. Have a tailor sew and press your pants will keep your cuffs in place with no maintenance required.
When Should Men Wear Cuffed Pants?
Rules for pant cuffs can be confusing. One rule for pant cuffs says that flat-front pants should not have cuffs. Although this is not always true, keep this rule in mind. Flat-front pants and cuffs can clash because they come from different cultures.
Flat front pants are a continental European tradition and cuffs are of Anglo-American origin. Mixing the two styles will be obvious to in-the-know gentlemen of style. I recommend avoiding it if you're at all unsure.
If you cuff flat-fronted trousers, make sure the rest of the suit follows other traditional rules as a counterbalance. Cuffs with flat-front trousers can be worn quite well.
Using the logic above, a man might think flat-front pants should not have cuffs and pleated pants should have cuffs. This is not necessarily true. Bespoke tailors will always advise:
- The pleat-less pant should receive no cuffs.
- Single-pleated pants are versatile.
- Two pleats should always have cuffs.
Now, this may seem as though there are many conditional rules for cuffs and pleats. The cuff option takes priority though. Make it easy by eliminating pleats. Pleats should be generally avoided unless the functional purpose of the pleat is necessary.
They facilitate a fuller shape but add bulk to the line of the overall suit. Cuffs tend to add weight to the bottom of the pants and make pleats stand out more than they should.
This is the primary reason why tailors hem pants with cuffs if they come with pleats. The truth is that most men's frames are not flattered by pleats.
Cuffs In Relation to Height
The cuff of quality-made pants should be subtle no matter what height the wearer stands. The proper height of trouser cuffs is 1 ½” for a man under 5'10” and 1¾” if taller.
If the wearer does not consider himself to be tall he should consider this when opting for cuffs. The line of the top of the cuff around the ankle encroaches the long line of the leg. This can make a man be perceived as slightly shorter.
If the wearer absolutely needs all the height he can get, no cuffs is the best option. However, some say not opting for cuffs due to short stature is outdated advice. If this is you then opt for a 1¼” cuff instead of the conventional 1 1/2? cuff.
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