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What should the proper sleeve length for a blazer be?


Senior Member
Oct 14, 2006
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I just bought a blazer from Ralph Lauren and everything fits properly except the sleeves. The sleeves go all the way down to my knuckles when I have my arms down. When I cross them, they're at my wrist. My mom thinks it's okay, but I figure I would ask you guys before I decide what to do with it. I'm also assuming that the sleeves cannot be altered since there are buttons on the cuffs?

Thanks guys.


Distinguished Member
Mar 2, 2005
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Originally Posted by Sgt_Strider
I just bought a blazer from Ralph Lauren and everything fits properly except the sleeves. The sleeves go all the way down to my knuckles when I have my arms down. When I cross them, they're at my wrist. My mom thinks it's okay, but I figure I would ask you guys before I decide what to do with it. I'm also assuming that the sleeves cannot be altered since there are buttons on the cuffs?

Thanks guys.

Take it to a reputable tailor and he'll tell you what the proper length is. I'm not sure how they do it, but my tailor measures up from my thumbs.

They should be able to shorten the sleeves unless the buttons are functional. If they are faux buttons (which most RTW blazers have, meaning, there are buttons but no button holes), they can be altered.


Distinguished Member
Mar 26, 2005
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The issue of proper sleeve length requires attention to your shirts as well as the blazer. The accepted recommendation is that between 1/4" and 1/2" of your shirt cuff show below your jacket or blazer cuff with your arms hanging at your sides. (Be sure to do all measuring for length of both shirts and blazer with your arms hanging straight down. Cuffs move around in other positions.) For this to work, you need to coordinate shirt and jacket sleeve lengths. For shirts, the best advice is to have the cuff end at the base of your thumb--which corresponds to the bottom of the palm of your hand. If you press your wrist at this point, you will feel where that thumb bone ends. That's where you want your shirts to end up. Any longer, and they are intruding on the palms of your hands, which looks dorky.

For your jacket or blazer sleeves, you want the end of the cuff to come to the bottom of your wrist bone (on the thumb side). If you look closely at your wrist and thumb and poke around a little, you will see that this point of the radius bone, as it's called, lies about 3/8" above the base of your thumb bone. Thus, if you align your cuffs this way (shirt cuff to base of thumb bone; jacket cuff to end of wrist bone), you will be right where you want to be vis-a-vis the amount of shirt cuff showing.

As Odoreater notes, if the blazer has functioning buttonholes, you're hooped, but I very much doubt that it does. It will almost certainly have sewn-on buttons with no buttonholes, or faux buttonholes outlined with stitching (which is easily removed without trace). In both cases, the sleeves can be altered, with the buttons sewn back on at the right location once the sleeve length has been determined. (Be sure to do this first, having the buttons sewn back on only when the length is exactly right.) When the buttons are sewn back on, have them locate the outermost one with its center about 1 in. from the end of the blazer cuff, and have the three or four just barely "kiss" or touch each other.

One note of warning: Your tailor (and probably others too) will tell you that you have had your sleeves cut too short. Ignore this, and do not let them browbeat you into having them left too long. This is one sartorial detail that is very frequently done wrong.


Distinguished Member
Feb 18, 2005
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Your shirts should have a length that ends at the very ase of the thumb. get the cuffs tightened so that they do not slip past that point.

Then have the jackets fitted so that the sleeves end at the very lower edge of the wrist bone. That should give you about a 1/2in linen display.

Many tailors want to go by the "look" which is not too bad, except that it is dependent upon the paticular shirt cuff position. Try to get it correct for one jacket and have the length measured from the tip of the thumb. then have the tailor adjust both sleeves to that same measurement from the thumb ti[. Your arms can be different lengths but the hem should be the same length from the thumb tips. It will take a bit of fiddeling - but you've paid for it.


Banned for Good
Mar 10, 2006
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My rule is to the hinge of the wrist. I was in a clothing store one day when I saw a guy who was trying on a sport coat. The sleeve length was PERFECT. And he complained to his girlfriend that it was too short! Being the SF member I was, I reminded him that it's good for shirt cuff to show. The girlfriend also knew better. Hopefully I saved the day.

Chauncey Gardner

Well-Known Member
Dec 31, 2006
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I hope that this, my first post, may be timely and reassuring to some members who are eyeing jackets with real, working buttons on the sleeves. They give a jacket a lovely, tailored appearance.

I understand the depression that may set in when you get home with your purchase and realize the sleeves practically cover your hands, and you can't imagine a solution without removing all those button holes and sewing new ones. Arrgh!

Rest assured, that's not the way it's done, and certainly that's not what the maker of the jacket intended. Why would anyone design a sophisticated jacket expecting that it wouldn't fit properly down to the smallest detail.

Well, all that's required is some savoir-vivre on your own part to USE the buttons (they're meant to be used, so play around with showing them off confidently) and it only takes some sleight of hand from your tailor to lift the sleeves. That's how the alterations are done, you see, at the shoulder, not at the cuff. He'll love knowing he's making you look right.

I would suggest consulting a true tailor, who understands jacket construction.

Cost is not a problem either, and I will pass on my own experience from this past year for comparison. I regularly use 4 tailors here in New York, 2 on Fifth Avenue and 2 in the Village. The most expensive tailor for this alteration charges me $45 but he says he knows tailors who charge $65. The other tailors charge only $35 for this. (Compare this cost to that of merely shortening cuffs with sewn-on buttons, which already runs from $15 to $20, so it's not a big difference considering that you will feel well tailored, just as you meant to, in your spiffy new blazer.)

Also keep in mind another jacket alteration that is common in view of today's shorter jackets. You can have the overall length of the jacket shortened (provided the button stance and pockets are agreeably positioned). I'm a "short" to begin with, and with the trim-cut of some European jackets, I've had this done several times, running no more than $35 to $45, with perfect results every time.

Finally, this is the perfect opportunity for you to develop a rapport with a local tailor, a worthwhile relationship that will be rewarding for years to come. So trot down to a tailor right away; he'll spirit you instatntly out of the dumps, and you'll love buttoning and unbuttoning your new blazer cuffs.

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