correct-shirt-cuff-above-sleeve

The length of your shirt sleeves is important. At the correct length, they display the slightest strip of linen peeking out at the bottom of your suit sleeves, defining the colours and the shape of each. It is a key locus of style, the display of the deliberate relationship between wool, cotton and leather watch strap.

So let’s review the guidelines on length. The suit jacket should fall to your wrist bone; the shirt should fall a little lower, to the base of your thumb. The difference is that quarter to three-quarters of an inch in peeking linen.

One important thing to note about the length of the shirt sleeve: that point at the base of your thumb is also the narrowest point of your hand. So, if the cuff is tight enough, it will stop at that point anyway. It can go no further down the hand.

This does not mean that your cuffs should be super tight. Neither does it mean that their length is irrelevant. But it does mean that both length and tightness are important.

There is supposed to be some slight bunching of shirt material, some excess, at the end of your sleeve when it is by your side. It should not be the precise length of your arm up to that point. This is so that when the arm is extended, the cuff does not come up short, held up by its shortness of length. Rather it has a little excess to go with the arm and stretch out.

This excess length should not be too great – no more than half an inch to an inch. And the cuff should not be too tight – snug without being constricting, allowing for a watch or any other jewellery with a small amount of room for comfort.

So the cuff should not be wide enough, for example, for you to slip your hand through it when it is fastened. A French, double cuff will always be larger than a barrel, single cuff of course. But neither should allow for you to push your arm easily through.

I do not disagree with Will at A Suitable Wardrobe very often. His sense of colour in socks and shoes, for example, is consistently inspiring. But I do feel he is wrong in writing here that intricate cufflinks should be attached before a man puts a shirt on. If that were the case, there would be no room for a little excess material in the shirt sleeve and it would always stop up short when the arm is extended.

The length of your shirt sleeve is important. But the tightness is, also.

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John Light

Hi Simon,

I have reached a stage in my life when I feel I need to start considering wearing a watch. You write a little here on the way a watch should lie next to your shirt sleeve and jacket sleeve, but I would like to hear further about your thoughts on this, (a quick search for watch appeared to suggest you hadn’t focussed on this directly before). I believe that Charvet used to (or perhaps still do) make their left sleeves half an inch shorter than their right ones to facilitate watch wearing, is this necessary or over the top? Aesthetically, I quite like the tight grip that a silk knot has over double cuffs, is this impossible to replicate if one is wearing a watch?

Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. (It also seems rude not to say that I have immensely enjoyed reading your blog for a number of years)

John

John Light

PS I would find a picture similar to the one you’ve used here but showing how a watch fits in extremely helpful.
John

Dan

Hi Simon,

With reference to the tightness of the cuff, Luca is at present making me a shirt for my wedding, so I’m sure the cuff will be perfect. However, as I have chosen a double cuff what is the best type of cuff link to ensure the fit stays tight, as made? I have gone for a ball return but am concerned it may end up making the cuff loose…

Thanks in advance.

Dan

Ran into a snag with a just-received RTW glen check jacket. I was all set to have it taken in from the shoulders, since the buttonholes are functional, but realized that the shoulders were aligned and nicely pattern- matched with the body, which would make a shoulder alteration ruin the work done. I’m not sure what I’m expected to do in order to show a little sleeve, but my alterations tailor felt it would be a travesty to ruin the alignment in the name of showing some shirt, locus of style or not. I would have needed 1.5″ removed but due to the buttonholes, we can only take about 3/4″ from the end of the sleeve before encroaching too closely on the buttons. What would you do in this case?

I can see this is one of the circumstances that push people into bespoke.

Dan

In the end, I’m going to return the jacket, as I wanted it to be nailed in every regard. Drake’s offered me an MTO version with unfinished sleeves, but unlike the RTW jackets they’re offering, I didn’t feel it was good value once all the alterations were done. Shame, I just loved that jacket.

Le Cut

Hi Simon:

Wanted to get your opinion on his sleeves should end at the bottom? Should they be straight and regular or curved?

Thanks
Cutberto

Le Cut

Thanks! If they are uneven or sinuous at the end; is this a sign of poor craftsmanship?

Cutberto

Dan

Hello Simon,
I think I need to be sectioned for sleeve obsession. Could you talk a bit about jacket sleeve *WIDTH* and lining tightness? The situation I invariably find myself in, even with following all advice here, is that my outstretched right arm retains the shirt cuff around my wrist due to the recommended tightness (my left has my watch on and doesn’t suffer from this, as it usually prevents the sleeve from peeking at all) but the jacket sleeve travels up my arm, causing loads of cuff to show. When the arm comes back down, I find myself constantly pulling the sleeve of the jacket back over my arm. I’m beginning to think many of my jackets (none bespoke) have tighter-than-ideal sleeves, or that the linings are more snug than they should be and preventing the sleeve from sliding back naturally over the shirt to its normal resting place. Alternately, I wonder if I’d be happier making the shirt cuffs looser again, and being more exacting with the shirt length. It seems to me that if the shirt cuff could travel with the same ease as the jacket sleeve, they would move together, and if I nailed the length, I wouldn’t have to worry about watches or pulling when extending my arms. Since you wrote this post in 2009, perhaps your views changed in this regard?