To Cuff or Not to Cuff?

Is the Trend of Rolling Up Your Jeans Over?

At Cloak & Dapper we don’t really roll with the trends. It’s the heritage styles, the classic sillouettes and manly basics that inspire our offerings. So why are we such big fans of cuffing? Isn’t it a trend? Actually, no. It’s a solution used by guys and gals alike for over a century. Let’s take a look…

First of all, we don’t recommend cuffing dress pants. Especially not tux pants. Your suit is supposed to look tailored, suited just for you. It’s even in the name. Do you want it to look like you own your suit, or that you’re renting it? Now that that’s said…

Levi Strauss & Co., still one of the most widely popular denim brands, manufactured the first traditional blue jean in 1873 from denim woven in New Hampshire. And from that point on for nearly 100 years the process didn’t change much. Preshrunk fabrics didn’t exist yet so all of the cotton denim was unsanforized, also commonly referred to as shrink-to-fit. The process of sanforization wasn’t invented until 1930, and didn’t find popularity until the 1960s.

So, basically, we were all used to buying our jeans a couple sizes too big, and shrinking them down in the wash. And untreated, they could shrink down as much as 10%, sometimes more. This wasn’t really what we’d call an exact science. It still isn’t. So cuffing them, or rolling up the hem was the quick fix. This wasn’t a fashion statement at the time. This was good old manly engineering!

cuffing jeans Annex-Brando-Marlon-Wild-One-The_10

It’s interesting that the once equivalent of “fixing it with duct tape” would one day be en vogue, or (and we shudder to use the word) trendy. But as is often the case in menswear, it takes a little healthy mix of form and function to really catch on with most fellas. And the cuff had its share. Among the clever uses for the cuffs included storage space for tobacco or a pack of cigs. And by the 1950s school boys found it a pretty handy spot to stow away pencils, candy, and even cash!

Once fitted, pre-shrunk jeans became the new fashion standard of the ‘60s, the cuff all but disappeared. It wouldn’t really be widely seen again until the 1990s, when the loose and baggy fit jeans became popular. It remains today, especially in the last 5 years or so, the new standard.

Tellason Raw Selvage Denim - Gustave Slim Tapered

Today, the cuff is as strong a fashion statement as ever. And with more and more men (and women) putting more stock in to quality clothing over fast fashion, what better way to show off the quality of your denim than cuffing the hem once or twice so you can see that selvage stitch, or “self edge?” This is one of our favorite signs of top craftsmanship to look for. The better the selvage, the less fraying and unraveling will occur.

So we say, roll ‘em if you got ‘em. You’re in good company.