Should Your Suit Pants Have a Cuff?

To cuff or not to cuff, that is the question

There are only two ways to finish a pair of pants. You can either hem the bottom of each leg, or you can turn them up into a cuff. For most men these days, the hem is the go-to choice. However, the cuff, or turn-ups as the Brits call it, is a medallion of sartorial excellence and a hallmark of well-made trousers.

Back in the day, the cuff was created for those in the United Kingdom to combat the wet streets after it rained. By opting for a cuff over a hem, a gentleman’s trousers would be able to withstand the elements without fraying or coming completely undone.

Over time, British influencers began to adopt the cuff as the go-to method of finishing a pair of slacks. Savile Row tailors and other menswear makers in London made it a worldwide phenomenon that still exists today.

So when should you opt for a cuff over a hem?

There are two times where a hem should be your only choice:

1. When wearing black tie or white tie attire.

suit pants cuff no cuff

2. When wearing a standard pair of wool flat-front suit pants with a single-breasted jacket or blazer.

suit pants cuff no cuff

There are also times where a cuff should be the only option:

1. When wearing trousers with two or more pleats.

suit pants cuff no cuff

2. When wearing a double-breasted suit.

Other than that, the choice is yours. However, there are certain styles and situations that really benefit from cuffed vs. uncuffed.

In most cases, the hem is best left for standard dress pants, pajama pants, lounge pants, chinos and corduroy pants. From a casual style perspective, cuffs can look great with a well-fitting pair of denim jeans or a pair of tweed or flannel trousers.

Cuffs are also ideal if you live in a region with inclement weather where snow, sleet, and rain are regular gifts from the sky. If you take public transportation or spend a considerable amount of time on the go, cuffs tend to hold up longer.

Aside from weather and climate change, cuffs also work well on taller, slim men. The cuff will help to make you look slightly shorter and even a little more buff. However, for men who are vertically challenged or a little stockier, cuffs can be a nightmare to pull off, resulting in your legs potentially looking shorter and wider.

The Final Verdict

Whether you add a cuff or use a hem to complete your look down below, it really is a matter of personal style in addition to the standard rules described above. Most tailors will only advise a cuff to add weight to a pair of pleated trousers, but pleats don’t work with most body types unless it’s trousers with a double-breasted suit jacket. In the end, you have to decide what you’re most comfortable wearing. Cuffs can look very rakish on a pair of flannel trousers, but they can also break the entire outfit if not worn confidently.

Chime in: Do you prefer your pants with a cuff or without one?

Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

J.A. Shapira
He Spoke Style

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Chime In

  • http://www.vipbachelorclub.com W. ADAM MANDELBAUM

    Your thoroughly informative article on the cuff was obviously not written off the cuff. Well done as always JAS.

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      Killing it in the comments, as usual.

  • Ben K H

    Great article about a feature that is often overlooked and often tells me who put thought into his outfit and who did not.
    I am just curious, why you think one should never wear cuffs “wearing a standard pair of wool flat-front suit pants with a single-breasted jacket or blazer.” And why one should always wear cuffs in the two example you gave. I feel like I can understand that when wearing two pleats, but that’s more of a gut feeling . Looking forward to your answer !

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      Ben, that advice falls into the “general guidance” category. Like all “rules of style,” it’s not hard and fast and becomes about personal preference. You can see many exceptions to that if you browse through the Style Guide.

  • Bernd

    Amazing Post! Thanks for the inspiration!

    Bernd
    styleandfitness.de

    @berndhower

  • OldManJoe

    I’m a total fan of cuffs and pleats. But then I’m six feet tall and the look works. The flat-front trousers I own are hemmed, such as my casual seersucker suit trousers. Of course, all the fashion rags say pleats are so out of style… hahaha! Never!

  • STEVE WICK

    I like to cuff most all of my pants. I’m 6’1″ and a bit on the stocky side but when I’ve gone without a cuff on flat front trousers for example something doesn’t look or feel right and those trousers eventually get relegated to the back of the closet

  • http://www.seotyrants.com @DarrinOren

    How many inches should the suit pant cuff be. Brian’s blue navy cuff above looks to be about 2 inches…