To Cuff of Not to Cuff

When working with both ladies and men, in designing shirts and suits, there is often the conversation concerning the appropriateness of cuffs for both shirts and slacks. While personal style is sometimes the determining factor, there are ‘classic style’ rules of thumb that we often share with those working through their ‘image objective.’


The french cuff is one of those fashion notes that never goes out of style. Classically, french cuffs signify formality, more recently, french cuffs are frequently employed to dress-up casual looks. Whether you are looking to separate yourself from the pack with a french cuff shirt, blazer and crisp denim or an executive evoking the sophistication of your stature wearing a dark pin-striped suit with white a french cuffed shirt, the shirt makes a difference, however subtle.

French Cuffs Casual Outings

Believe it or not, french cuff shirts are not limited to dressing up. A french cuff shirt works well with a blazer, pressed jeans, and simple cufflinks. In this case, the cuffs speak to an air of sophistication without being out of place or looking too formal. If you feel the look is too plain or generic, add a pocket square with color that adds to ensemble. Though some wear french cuffs without a jacket, it’s much much better to wear those shirts with a blazer. Cufflinks selections are wide open novelty, metal, stones, etc.

French Cuffs for Business Meetings

Start with a tailored off the rack the suit or go custom. As typical as in business settings, when wearing a french cuff shirt, wear a darker colored suit (navy, shades of gray). The suit should flatter the wearer both in color and fit. The shirt, in this case, typically, is a crisp white, french blue, or sometimes soft colors with very subtle patterns. Cufflinks tend to be subdued, metal or silk knots.

French Cuffs for Formal Affairs

When it comes to formal affairs, there is very little wiggle room: tux, white shirt, medium to wide spread collar. The cufflinks should be metal, simple, and elegant.


Now, slacks and cuffs. There are some rules of thumb that are classic standards and others that we practice and suggest to our clients. First, if slacks are flat front (meaning no pleats) do not wear cuffs. Second, if you are short, have short legs in comparison to your torso, do not wear cuffs. Cuffs visually end the leg which is a plus for taller longer legged people (men and women alike). Some stylists tend to think cuffs are for the more mature where no-cuffs are for younger. While flat front pants should not be cuffed, the opposite is not always true with pants with pleats. Pleated pants are fine with or without cuffs. Cuffs add weight to the bottom of pants making the pleats standout and balance the look. Either is appropriate, with the above in mind, and not age defining.

Furthering the point, classic American slacks have both cuffs and pleats. The opposite is true with European styling where flat fronts without cuffs are prevalent. Regardless of American or European preference, when it comes to tuxedos, go sans cuff.

Whether you are a style maven already defined in your style or you are a man/woman looking for direction, our team is primed and ready to sit with you and help determine the right look for the right occasion.