Dress Pants: Cuffs or No Cuffs

The importance of cuffs for suit pants and odd trousers.

Men face a critical decision when purchasing pants: cuffs or no cuffs? Cuffed pants are a mark of quality, but also accentuate a man’s height and style of the complete garment.

Introduction to Pants With Cuffs

mens trousers with cuffsCuffs are the turned-up margin of trouser bottoms. This feature serves the basic purpose of protecting pants from fraying or any other kind of damage from wet and muddy conditions. Although King Edward VII is considered the originator of the traditional cuffed pant in the 1890s, they became an American standard in the early 20th century.

Since then, cuffed pants remain a mark of quality in bespoke tailored pants as well as off-the-rack pants. They should be regarded as a stylish embellishment to a properly fitted pair of pants, but also as a helpful tool in accentuating individual features.

Remember, cuffed pants are definitely considered the dressier option when wearing a standard suit or the odd trouser, but they are not to appear on black-tie tuxedo pants.

Cuffs for Pleated Vs. Flat-Front Pants

Rules for pant cuffs can be confusing. One rule for pant cuffs says that flat-front pants should not have cuffs. Although this is not always true, the rule should be considered with caution. Flat front pants and cuffs clash because they are derived from different cultures.

Flat front pants are considered to be a continental European tradition and cuffs are of Anglo-American origin. Although these may sound like obscure details, mixing these two styles is fairly obvious to well-dressed gentlemen and should be avoided.

If a man takes a step out of conventional style rules and adds cuffs to flat-fronted trousers, he should make sure the rest of his suit follows other traditional rules as not to look poorly dressed. Cuffs with flat-front trousers can be worn quite well.

Using the logic above, a man might think because flat front pants should not have cuffs and pleated pants should have cuffs. This is not necessarily true. Bespoke tailors will always advise the pleat-less pant should receive no cuffs, single-pleated pants are versatile, and two pleats should always have cuffs.

mens trouser pleats

Left to Right: No pleats, no cuffs. Single pleat, either. Double pleats, cuffs.

Now, this may seem as though there are many conditional rules for cuffs and pleats. The cuff option takes highest priority. Make it easy by eliminating pleats. Pleats should be generally avoided unless the functional purpose of the pleat is necessary. They facilitate a fuller shape, but add bulk to the line of the overall suit. Cuffs tend to add weight to the bottom of the pants and make pleats stand out.

This is the primary reason why tailors hem pants with cuffs if they come with pleats, but most men’s frames are not advantaged by pleats.

Cuffs In Relation to Height

The cuff of quality made pants should be subtle no matter what height the wearer stands. The proper width of trouser cuffs should be 1⅝” for a man under 5’10” and 1¾” if taller.

If the wearer does not consider himself to be tall or does not mind appearing taller, he should consider this when opting for cuffs. The line of the top of the cuff around the ankle encroaches the long line of the leg. This can make a man be perceived as slightly shorter.

If the wearer absolutely needs all the height he can get, no cuffs is the best option. Some consider not opting for cuffs due to short stature is outdated advice.If cuffs are the preferred choice for the shorter man, opt for a 1¼” cuff width instead of the conventional 1⅝” cuff.

Suits Without Cuffed Pants

mens suits without cuffed pants

It is well known that cuffed pants are not always necessary for a classic suit. However, some retail suit makers discourage cuffs because it is more expensive for them to include. Cuffs are considered a step above because they require more material and needlework. They can be added to existing pairs of pants the pants have enough material at the bottom to be let out.

When having a tailor make cuffless pants, the bottoms should be slanted so that the hem rests lower on the top of the shoe heel. Traditional tailors advise that they should be worn with a slight break, or “shiver” on the front of the shoe. In this case, they should be long enough to cover the hose when a man is walking, with a width that conceals the shoelaces.

Remember, cuffed pants are definitely considered the dressier option when wearing a standard suit or the odd trouser, but black-tie tuxedo pants should always be without cuffs.

Conclusion to Pants With Cuffs

Cuffs are an indicator of refined style when worn properly. Although they do add marginal cost to a pair of pants, they add a je ne sais quoi to otherwise standard slacks. Cuffs are considered permanent male fashion not because of their rich heritage in Regency-era England, but because the wearer has literally gone the extra inch to stand out with style.