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Ideal sleeve length for suits & blazers

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I'm interested in seeing what the group thinks about sleeve lengths for suit jackets, sport coats, and blazers. I've observed two ways men deal with this issue. The first is to wear the jacket sleeves just long enough so that the shirt cuff is completely covered. The second is to have the jacket adjusted so that a certain amount of shirt cuff is revealed. I recall that when I graduated from college, and started my first corporate job, I pursued the second option and showed ¼" of shirt cuff, which I thought looked pretty sharp. Accomplishing this was difficult because it required aligning an ever-conflicting collection of shirt and jacket sleeve lengths. Some shirts would be a tad too short while others would be a bit too long. I even resorted to using safety pins to ensure the shirt sleeves were precisely the right length. Currently my jackets are just long enough to prevent the shirt sleeve from showing. However, I'm a bit dissatisfied with this because it seems somewhat inelegant. For instance, I look at pictures of Prince Charles and note that he always shows some shirt cuff under his bespoke suit's sleeves. I recently bought a navy blue Hickey Freeman blazer from Nordstrom and the salesman said they recommend that the sleeves not allow shirt cuffs to show. Clearly Nordstrom is not H. Huntsman, but I assume they must be somewhat tapped into what's what in the profoundly important realm of sleeve length. So, what do you think? Show some cuff or make life easy and just hide it under a longer jacket sleeve? An entirely separate issue is how much cuff to show. I've always thought that showing a full half inch is just too flashy, although all the sartorial arbiters seem to recommend this in lockstep. even more tangential issue is whether a French cuff should be softly turned back by hand and then fastened with a link, or whether the cuff should be starched and pressed into a very rigid crease. My cleaner returns the French cuffs starched but not folded and creased. I believe I've seen pictures of Noel Coward with incredibly stiff cuffs that look quite spiffy. Perhaps I'll fire up my iron and impose a sharp crease on the cuffs. I feel that the group appreciates subtle nuance and fastidiousness about detail. Therefore, I feel comfortable exploring these rather ephemeral issues as part of my first posting. Thank you.
post #2 of 8
i have my jacket sleeves just long enough to cover my wrist bone. this completely covers my arm but leeves my hand completely uncovered, which makes sense to me. the first time i requested this, the tailor tried to convince me for several minutes that this was too short, but eventually conceded, "i'll leave it how you want, but..." this shows slightly less than half an inch of cuff with my hands at my side, though i haven't measured. it also depends on the length of the shirt cuff. i think it looks great, and i'm not a particularly flashy guy. think of mr. burns from 'the simpsons'; now that's overdoing it. some people seem to think that showing cuff is more "high fashion" and that not showing cuff looks more professional. i couldn't disagree more. having your jacket sleeve cover your shirt cuff just makes it look like you bought the suit and didn't have it altered to fit you.
post #3 of 8
This post really caught my attention and I definetely would like to respond to this. Isn't it funny how some posts leave you to think about whether you want to respond, and others just evoke you to hurry and finish reading so you can press the "reply" button and reply to the post? hehe. Anyways, this is a very good question about a detail that I feel gets overlooked. It seems to me, that most gentleman seem to wear their jackets sleeves too long. Now call me a traditionalist, but I totally agree with Mr. Flusser's philosophy that ones jacket sleeves should NOT be long enough to cover a shirt cuff. I feel that you should ALWAYS have a half inch of shirt cuff showing from beneath your jacket sleeves. So many gentleman do not show this, and I think it could be because many are misinformed. As you stated in your post, a Nordstroms salesman recommended that the sleeves of ones jacket should not allow the cuffs to show. Now I can tell you, I work at Nordstroms on my summer breaks in the mens furnishings department, and I would be quick to slap that salesperson on the wrist. Now I don't sell too many suits or sportcoats, as I am not in the suits department. However, the ones I have sold I ALWAYS tell the customer that his jacket sleeves should be tailored such that 1/2 inch of shirt cuff should be showing with the jacket on. I am not too suprised that the salesman told you that though...I was once selling a sportcoat to a customer and one of the suits salespeople was in the fitting room and commented that it was all a matter of personal preference. I beg to differ. Now there are reasons why I strongly feel that one should always show cuff under their jackets sleeves. To me, it looks so much better because as mata pointed out, having your shirt cuffs all covered by your jacket sleeves make it appear as if you got the jacket off the rack without making any of necessary alterations. In some cases, it makes you look like some young boy borrowing his fathers jacket. Also, showing shirt cuff elongates the arm. If no shirt cuff is showing, the arm seems to "disappear" into the larger jacket sleeve. This matter is discussed in Flussers book. It is also important to remember that showing shirt cuff is especially important when you are wearing french cuffs. Certainly, you wouldn't want your cuffs and cufflinks to disappear into the cavernous cave of your jacket sleeves. You would definetely want a part of the sleeves to be revealed then. I think the same holds true for barrel cuffs. Also, allowing for 1/2 inch of shirt cuff to show ensures that the wearer is not wearing some shirt that is too short in the sleeves. If ones jacket sleeves were covering the shirt cuffs, you might not be able to tell right away whether the shirt is the right size in the sleeves. I could probably think of some other reasons, but I think to sum it up, wearing your jacket sleeves so that the shirt cuffs are covered would seem to be like wearing a jacket that didn't allow for 1/2 inch of shirt collar to show above the jacket's collar. I hope this helps.
post #4 of 8
Sorry, I forgot to respond about the creasing in the cuffs. I always iron my shirts so that there is a crease in the cuffs. I do not use starch, but they come out very well creased and crisp looking. I think it looks nice.
post #5 of 8
if you don't like to use starch but want some added stiffness to the cuffs (or collars) use sizing spray instead
post #6 of 8
maybe one of the posts should have read "AMERICAN men typically wear their jacket sleeves too long," as it seems we screw this one up often. i vote you go with the 1/4" of shirt sleeve showing, if you can; it's a happy medium. Myself, i go for the whole 1/2", but it is a little hard to maintain a level of perfection (or at least accuracy) without always getting custom shirts from the same manufacturer. ah, if only flusser could appear to us like Ben Kenobi and give us the REAL answers to these things.....ha.
post #7 of 8
You should have 1/4 to 1/2 inch of cuff showing. It looks good, and (to me) not having some cuff show makes the entire jacket look too big. I personally prefere the non-creased cuffs. I like the fold to be a bit rounded and the cuff itself to be a bit rounded. I think it looks good both ways, however. Kai
post #8 of 8
I personally prefer 1/4 inch of cuff to show; a full 1/2 inch seems to my eye to be too much for me. However, by all means anything up to 1/2 inch is far better than no cuff showing. I am surprised that a Nordstrom employee would encourage sleeves finished with no cuff showing; it has always been my impression that it is a longstanding and basic rule tailoring to show some of the cuff. The inattention by many men to even this fairly basic detail is always amazing to me.
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