Monday, August 10, 2009

Tip-of-the-Day: Open Up Your Cuffs

I often get asked the question "How can you tell, by looking at him, if a guy's suit is expensive or not?". My answer is usually "Who Cares? If he looks good, he looks's not about price tags". BUT, there is one thing I always look for when I see at a stylish guy in a suit: working cuffs.

Most off-the-rack suit jackets/blazers have 3 or 4 buttons on the cuff (the end of the sleeve) which are only decorative - they do not serve any function. These buttons do not open or close since there is no hole for them to fasten through. They are made this way in order to allow the sleeves to be altered (made longer or shorter) according to the buyer. After all, not all men are created (physically) equal.

However, if a suit is custom made, either "bespoke" or "made-to-measure", since the sleeves have already been measured to the perfect length for the wearer, the cuffs will be what is called "working cuffs" or "surgeons cuffs"; where the buttons can be opened and closed. This may not seem like a big deal, but it does allow you to effectively roll up the sleeves of your jacket when the times (or your style) call for it - which is one of my favorite looks right now, especially on an unlined cotton jacket.

A working cuff:

Now since most guys aren't interested in paying $1,500+ for a custom-made suit, here is a little secret of mine... When you get your sleeves adjusted to your ideal length (which is MUCH shorter than most tailors will suggest - tell them you want at least 1/2" of shirt cuff to show) you can also get your cuffs opened (granted you are seeing a decent tailor) for a small fee ($20 - $25). You can also add or remove buttons if you wish. I usually wear 5 working buttons on my jackets because I'm 6'2" with long arms and because I love to be different. As a side note, I'm working on designing a jacket with working buttons all the way up to the elbow - should be interesting.

Now I really didn't want to share this part, but what the hell... You can also customize your jacket by choosing to insert a grosgrain ribbon of your choice into the sleeve gusset - a popular look right now with high-end designers like Thom Browne who often puts his signature Red/White/Blue stripe in his jackets. Typically you need about 12 inches of 7/8" ribbon, but talk this over with your tailor to make sure he can do it and you pick up the right size. Any good fabric store should have a ribbon section with a good variety of colors/stripes/patterns/etc.

The coolest part is that the choices for grosgrain ribbon are pretty much endless. You can try to play off of a color in your jacket, go with a complimentary color, or go with something wacky like smiley faces or the way-over-done skull and crossbones monogram.

Wearing your jacket sleeves rolled up is a great look, but leaving a button or two unfastened at the end of your jacket just to show that you paid alot for it, as many wall-street types do, comes off a little asshole-ish. With that said, I still do it sometimes :/

Thanks for reading. Yours in style, Style Blogger.


TO said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I found out today that they originally did this so men could wash their hands without taking their jacket off- pretty cool, nice post SB (this is your j-stu comrade)

TimbukTieu said...

just saw your pf on the esquire contest. love you're style- def. wish I could pull it off

Kevin said...

I believe the origin is actually from surgeons rolling up their sleeves to work - hence the name "surgeon's cuffs."

Anonymous said...

These are actually called surgeons cuffs. Traditionally doctors got them on their jackets so that yes they could roll their sleeves. Also traditionally, men who weren't surgeons didn't have them on their suits because they were seen as garish, it is only recently that men have wanted to show off the amount they paid for a suit that they have come en vogue.

Anonymous said...

Ok, well this may be true about the surgeons on their jackets, but I read in a seemingly reliable book that the origin of these in men's fashion was in fact because it was, and in many traditional areas now adays, impolite to take off one's jacket and so when washing one's hands, and this makes sense that they might take inspiration from a surgeon's jacket as the original jackets generally as a part of three piece suits simply came from humble beginnings as English attire to be worn hunting, so kindly agree to agree to both of these situations, (same poster) but I am always interested in new ideas about fashion if you have an alternative idea

Anonymous said...

Sorry if that post did not make full sense, but if you could direct me maybe to the alternate story, I would like to see the reference. Or if you don't care anymore, that is fine too. I really am not trying to start an arguement, I just am interested.