Cuffs on Jacket Sleeves

Jacket Sleeves With Cuffs

The other day, I watched the film A Jubilee Tribute To The Queen by the Prince of Wales – a one hour film by Prince Charles for his mother. While this film provided some interesting historical insights, it was also a wonderful chance to get a closer look at the clothes of the future King of England. If you’re not familiar with Charles’ style, the Prince has always shown a fondness for traditional British clothing; while he’s not as revolutionary as the Duke of Windsor, he is not afraid to take risks and play with detail. Take a look at the video to see for yourself, and allow me the opportunity to share more about a notable long-lost jacket detail.

The Jacket with Cuffs

Prince Charles with cuffs on his jacket sleeves

Prince Charles with cuffs on his jacket sleeves

In the video, one detail that stood out rather prominently were the cuffs on Charles’ coat in the first scene. In the past, I have seen quite a few garments with this special feature, although it does not seem very popular at the present. Sadly, turn back cuffs on sleeves are all but extinct in modern RTW clothing.

Surgeon Cuffs Unbuttoned

Surgeon Cuffs Unbuttoned

Every once in a while, a bespoke client might order them, but other than that, they are exceptionally very rare. When I posted this picture of Prince Charles on Facebook and asked what people thought of this detail, Robert Sacheli – author at Dandyism.net -wrote: “I think HRH has simply unbuttoned a cuff button or two and turned them back to better carry out whatever task he’s performing.” I thought to myself that if even a clothes horse like Robert does not recognize this detail, many others will have never heard of it.

Cuffs on Overcoats

Covert Coat with Turn Back Cuffs

Covert Coat with Turn Back CuffsTom Ford Tuxedo with Shawl Collar & Cuffs 2010

Traditionally, cuffs have been popular on overcoats such as the Ulster in the 1920’s and 1930’s, but even at the time it would have been rare to see them on jackets. You would generally find them on less formal overcoats made out of tweed, but not on town overcoats. Personally, I find it a nice way of creating a different look on an overcoat and if you keep the cuffs open, it is a great position for a hidden pocket. No pickpocket would be sartorially sophisticated enough to look inside the cuffs!

Apart from that, cuffs were also popular with certain military uniforms and overcoats.

Sleeve Cuffs on Jackets

Sleeved Cuffs on Lounge Suit in the 1950's

Sleeved Cuffs on Lounge Suit in the 1950’s

Despite the popularity of cuffs on uniforms, you will rarely see pictures from the 1930’s that show a jacket with these turn

back cuffs, and if then only on casual country jackets. When I was on Savile Row last year, I was positively surprised to see  cuffs on town suits as well as country shooting jackets. For women, cuffs are a great option to add a contrasting color and material to their outfit while I would probably advise against that choice for a men’s suit.

Shawl Collar Tuxedo with Silk Cuffs - Baron von Eelking

Shawl Collar Tuxedo with Silk Cuffs – Baron von Eelking

In the 1950’s, cuffs became more popular in continental Europe, but the masses never really adopted it across the board. In my opinion, this is a pity since they are a great way to add distinction to your coat.

Probably the most popular style among this niche clientele is the rounded turn back cuff as worn by Prince Charles. Usually, it is matched with the pattern of the sleeve and you can immediately notice that it is not just an unbuttoned surgeon cuff, because it would be square and show the lining.

The turn back cuff is generally sewn in and the buttons remain in the same position. For evening wear, such as a tailcoat or a dinner jacket/tuxedo, you can even wear a cuff in satin silk that matches the lapel – see Tom Ford or Prince Charles. I once even saw a version that was tailored in a way so it could be removed eventually without leaving any evidence behind. So, if you decide to add a cuff on your next coat, you can discuss this option with your tailor.

Tuxedo with Wide Cuffs and Wide Piping

Tuxedo with Wide Cuffs and Wide Piping

While the rounded cuff is definitely the most wide spread style, there are also square cuffs with piping. Cuffs of different sizes can also alter the appearance. At the end of the day, it is entirely up to you what shape you settle on, though bear in mind that a turn back cuff is in itself so unusual, that even a simple cuff  will stand out without further adornment.

Do you own a jacket with cuffs on it? If so, chances are it was a custom made piece. Do you like cuffs and would you consider them on a tuxedo jacket?

I look forward to your replies in the comments below!

 

12 replies
  1. Ahmed Sajeel
    Ahmed Sajeel says:

    A much needed piece on the subject. I had fruitlessly tried to get my tailor to put cuffs on my jacket sleeves, but he has been too afraid of the venture going astray … now that Brown DB I mentioned should be the starting point.

    Thank you again !!!

  2. Sven Raphael Schneider
    Sven Raphael Schneider says:

    Excellent, that’s good news. I think it always helps to show pictures, especially of famous people because it shows that it is not just your queer demand but actually something other tailors have accomplished, Most tailor’s want to show that they can do it as well.

  3. Gernot_Freiherr_von_Donnerbalken
    Gernot_Freiherr_von_Donnerbalken says:

    There we have one more proof that the Prince of Wales is one the best dressed persons of our time. Some genes must have prevailed, bearing in mind what icons of style belonged to his ancestors.
    Thanks a lot for this article.

  4. Gernot_Freiherr_von_Donnnerbalken
    Gernot_Freiherr_von_Donnnerbalken says:

    By the way, I must say, that cuffs seem to be quite a considerable options on a tuxedo. Mr. von Eelking looks quite good in his coat, but even more astonishing is the last picture. I’ve honestly never seen a more elegant, such a simply perfect tuxedo. The whole shape is chiseled, both lapels an edges, and all that is underlined by the cuffs. Thanks a lot for this inspiration.

  5. oregffm
    oregffm says:

    Sorry gents,

    Nothing new!

    One of the tailors I frequently use CHRIS KERR in Berwick Street, Soho, London offers this details since years and calls it “gauntlet cuffs”

  6. Charles Cumming
    Charles Cumming says:

    In the 1970s, the Hollywood brand of men’s suit and sport jackets had cuffs on the sleeves. It was well done and this brand was consistently worn by the Chairman of the Board of a major downtown bank. As I recall, my sport jacket was a traditional blue with the turn back cuff; on the outside of the cuff there was one large button.

    In Dallas, Texas these were sold by Dreyfuss & Son (later Wolfe Brothers) and Irby Mayes.

    • Sven Raphael Schneider
      Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Great to hear, that they existed in the US as well. The seventies certainly had all kinds of fashion details that are just hilarious looking at them today – the cuffs weren’t one of them.

  7. Bill Thompson
    Bill Thompson says:

    Very good article, SRS, and a nice and thorough overview of a nearly forgotten style. I like cuffs on overcoats and heavier country-weight tweed jackets, but for town suiting it tends to look overly stuffy and retro for my taste. (Of course, they are practically required on smoking jackets.) Cuffs on formalwear tend to look overly fussy to my eyes — less is more when it comes to the cut of evening wear. IMHO, of course.

  8. S
    S says:

    Boating blazers at Oxford (and I presume Cam) have turned back cuffs, normally with some piping in the College colours. They also appear sometimes on casual summer jackets, sans piping.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. [...] aspect as well.Prince Charles is a perfect example for matching the cuff to the sleeve size in his cuffed jacket.In the following, I want to outline possible pitfalls pictorially.The shirt sleeve can be too long [...]

  2. [...] curved lapels, a high gorge as well as a high buttoning point. Interestingly, he wears it with a cuff on either sleeve that has the same matte silk facing as the lapel. All six front buttons as well as the four cuff [...]

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