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Sunday, January 3, 2021

Which Trousers Do You Cuff and How?


I have questions for your knowledgeable readership regarding matters of utmost importance.  They pertain to pants.  I am not asking about sweatpants or even jeans but pants like khakis, worsteds, and flannels.  Do your readers prefer them with cuffs or not?   

How about the matter of break?  High water?  Touching but no break?  Slight break?  Deep break?  If cuffed, how deep a cuff (aka turn up)?  I note that most purveyors offering cuffs use 1", but O'Connell's uses 1 1/2" unless you instruct otherwise.  J. Press used to opt for 1 3/4".  Are there readers who like cuffs on some pants but not others?  (Trousers to be worn with a dinner jacket or formal wear do not count.) 

I won't ask about pleats because I think they are a pain to iron, but I'll mention them in case anyone wants to weigh in.

 

26 comments:

  1. I used to cuff everything except jeans and pants I wore for hiking and outside work. Today, I’m about 50/50 for suits and wool trousers I wear for work - some are cuffed, some are not. I rarely cuff anything cotton - but I do have a pair of reds that look good with cuffs. Generally 1” or 1.25”.

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  2. I still do the standard J. Press 1 3/4 inch on cotton, flannel, and wool trousers, and always on suits. Paradoxically, that classic cuff has roared back into fashion in spite of its anti-fashion origin. I ran this notion by a friend who's a fashion editor at a men's magazine to see if I was imagining it. He said, no, I wasn't. Whenever I see skimpy cuffs, I'm always reminded of suburban teenage boys in the 70s and their first suits. It's not an appealing look, to me.

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  3. Everything cuffed
    Khakis to dress pants
    1.5 inches
    Everything pleated - double reverse
    Touching with minor break

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  4. I am in agreement with Anonymous at 6:14 PM. I have always cuffed everything but jeans and the pants that go with a dinner jacket, and I have always taken them to my tailor for 1 3/4" and no break. In Texas the preferred look of no cuffs and so much break that there is fabric pooling over the shoes is a look I just cannot embrace.

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    1. Mr.Irvine is indeed correct with his observations down here in Texas. Attributed to lack of good sense & parental oversight. I roll with his aforementioned dimensions & no break. Enuff said.

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    2. Tim—Anon 6:14 here. Spot on Tim. I find nothing less adult or refined than a puddle of fabric lapping at one's ankles, which is a rube's look, except possibly the 1 inch "Mom told me the cuff looks nice" cuff.

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    3. ^ Agreed on all counts. Cuffs on everything. That was always the Ivy/preppy norm, for what it's worth, although I understand the tradition may be different in Britain. I like 1 5/8" to 1 3/4" although I do prefer a "light" break. As has also been said above, cuffs below 1 1/2" look silly, especially if you are over 5'10" or so

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    4. It's not just in Texas. I've see it everywhere . . . .

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  5. I associate cuffs with less formality. That means khakis and odd trousers are cuffed at 1.25 in and the navy and oxford gray suits have no cuffs. Likewise for the morning dress and tuxedo. Tweeds that are part of a suit aren’t cuffed but odd tweeds are likely so.
    My affection for cuffs rests partly on the way it breaks the visual line of the trousers. As for the break, I go very slight at the recommendation of my tailor. This deference was reinforced by one of my exes who was quoted by a third party as saying, “His break is perfect. He’s like James Bond with the break.” (She was a SCAD graduate so I gladly took the compliment.)

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  6. Purely a matter of taste and personal preference. I used to cuff suit pants and khakis, with a small break in the suit pants. Break in suit pants because most of us spent most of our time sitting at a desk, and with a small break they didn't feel like they were too short when you were sitting. Now I don't cuff anything and no break on anything. But that's just me.

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    1. Not just you, I believe many are moving away from cuffs and breaks.

      recently most have moved away pants period :-)

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    2. You and others are correct that fashions are always changing and tastes vary, and as others have noted no cuffs at all and cuffs of less than 1 3/4" are widely accepted. "In the day" that was not the case for young preps. You wore flat front trousers, be they slacks, suits, khakis, or cords, and they all got fairly deep cuffs. As regards break, they tended to be either no break or high water. It had nothing to do with the overall visual impression it made, the line, or anything other than conformity. I wonder if current day preps would have such rules.

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  7. Flat front khaki must be cuffed! 1.25 only. Thanks so much!

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  8. Unless the suit is very minimalist in cut, very sleek, I prefer cuffs. Ditto slacks. Usually not with chinos. Slight break. Very.

    Gents, if what people see when they look at your lower legs reminds them in any way of what they would see under the partition of toilet stall, your trousers are too long.

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  9. My Rule Of Thumb: If the trousers are ever going to be worn with a jacket and tie the are cuffed; 1-1/2" to 1-3/4" with a slight break regardless of fabric. No J & T no cuffs.

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  10. Interesting thread. Obviously, personal choice, no "right" answer. FWIW Cuffs are designed to put a little weight at the bottom of the trousers, so they hang better. Personal choice; cuff everything, except corduroy, fabric too bulky to cuff. (Exceptions, as previously stated in earlier posts.)
    1 3/4 " cuffs, narrowing trousers to 7" makes a huge difference. Watch the guys at church going down the aisle. Trousers too long, too wide, and 1"cuff, or no cuff help you decide what looks best. (Incidentally, it might be a good idea to use the British term; trousers, not pants.)

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  11. I prefer cuffs on most pants, but not all of my khakis have cuffs. I like a small break. No pleats, ever.

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  12. I follow the advice in TOPH with the 1.25 cuff, however I disagree with the cuffs and sans pleats on everything edict, although Ms. Birnbach omits any mention of breaks . The decision matrix for me is what is the clothing, what will it be worn to and what is the age of the wearer.

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  13. I prefer a very small break on everything...cuffs should be the same size as the waistband and lightweight fabrics require cuffs to drape correctly (both according to a tailor whose taste I respect and whom I had for many years). On normal weight khakis, I have always had some each way. Corduroys never cuffed. On suits and odd trousers, it depends for me upon the cut of the suit (or the jacket I would wear)...traditional USA and British cuts (single-breasted and less formal ones) tend to suit me with cuffs and continental (double-breasted and more formal) are best without, imho. Of course, one is entitled to ones own preference.

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  14. Chinos and selvedge jeans get a 1" double turn up just enough to show a bit of bright sock, or ankle in the summer.

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  15. No pleats ever. Cuffs on suit and formal pants. No cuffs on khakis.

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  16. Cuffs should be proportionate to height and inseam length. My suit and dress trousers take a 1.75" cuff, some cords and khakis ( Orvis ultimate
    Khakis are terrific) get a 2" cuff. Pleated trousers all get cuffed, flat
    front can go either way. Do not cuff pants for activities such as sailing
    And lawn tractor driving where they can snag and maybe cause injury.

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  17. Always 1 3/4 on everything but 5 pocket trousers.

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  18. Flat front and 1 5/8" cuff with a very small break on everything except jeans.

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  19. Good question, and a potential minefield. And it is of course a matter of personal taste. But is good taste objectively true or subjective ?!! That's one for the late great Roger Scruton. Here goes:

    1. Cuffs. It depends on the trousers: I cuff all of my formal - i.e., suit trousers and grey flannels - at 1 5/8". Less looks just too skimpy and more looks a bit... Neopolitan. The exception being very formal trouser i.e. black tie, white tie and striped morning suit trousers, which should not have cuffs. The exception to that one being the formal trousers that you would wear as a boy at Eton, which you cuff because you are frugal by nature and want to be able to let them down as you grow, so you wind up cuffing the new pair, then uncuffing them, if that makes sense. I also cuff narrow wale corduroy but no longer cuff chinos, although I used to just flip up the bottoms of the LL Bean ones I wore as a teenager - I think probably because the leg circumference was quite wide and they looked better that way - see below re hem height. Some chinos still look best that way.

    2. Hem Height. This depends again on the trousers but with suit, formal and any other trousers that you will wear with socks, a bit on the height of the user. What the Savile Row tailors - at least those like Dege and Meyer and Mortimer (tailors to the Guards regiments) that have not sold out to a retired hedge funder whose aesthetic is dictated by the Financial Times How to Spend It Magazine - will try to achieve is to make short men look taller and too tall men look a bit shorter. They do this by hemming the trousers for the former with very little or no break to make them like they are just about to grow out of the trousers and with more break for those who are taller to do the opposite. Think of a young boy wearing his father's suit - with the trousers drooping all over the floor - that is what the short man wants to avoid. And vice versa. The same principle is applied for the length of the sleeve on the coat of the suit. For jeans I go long, because you sort of want that boot cut look where the accordion a bit around the bottom. You used to have to do this with Levi 501's as they were slightly flared (boot cut...) and just looked weird if they were the "right" height. With chinos and other trousers that you wear sockless I go shorter so that I show a bit of my well-turned ankles. And finally, going shorter generally is more important with American and other trousers that typically have a wider circumference - more than 16.5 inches at 33 inches of inseam - as they just look better. With the exception of jeans as discussed above.

    I hope that was helpful !

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    1. A tour de force on the topics! I have adopted the oversimplified TNSIL approach of 1 3/4" cuffs on everything but formal or semiformal (black tie) and Levi's. No break on anything. The memories of letting out the cuffed trousers as you went through growth spurts was a fun trip down memory lane. For me it was about age eight to twelve. It may also present an actual reason for the early years being in short pants. I like to think there was more to it than simply reminding me I was young and small!

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