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How long should your sleeve be on a regular shirt with french cuffs or double cuffs for cuff links? How about for Barrel cuffs?
First, let's talk about the length of a French cuff shirt, it should always end at the root of your thumb. The shirt should have this length no matter whether your arm is hanging or angled. If your shirt gets shorter when you move your arm, that means that the armhole is too big and it simply shortens the shirt when you move. French cuffs form a horseshoe shape. Ideally, this should not be too pinched and tight. It should also not be so wide that you can put on cuff links and then put your shirt on afterwards by sliding your hand through the sleeve out.
The button hole on your shirt cuff should be exactly in the middle of the cuff and the button hole should be towards the edge. In Britain sometimes, you find shirts that have the button hole moved towards the front edge of the cuff with the intention to show more of your cuff links underneath your jacket sleeve. In Europe, particularly in Germany or Austria, this is usually a feature reserved for black tie or white tie shirts.
If you wear a wristwatch, you should always consider that when you get your cuff size because it has the fit underneath of it. A custom shirt usually accommodates for that. For barrel cuff shirts with buttons, the length rule is exactly the same, should reach the root of the thumb and they should fit tightly against your wrist, again, with enough space for a watch.
Now that you know how long a shirt should be, the question is, how much shirt cuff should you show?
If you go through history, and if you consult different people, you realize different lengths are considered proper by different people.
For example, Allan Flusser suggests you show a half an inch of cuff, shirt cuff that is, underneath your jacket sleeve. On the other hand, Bernhard Roetzel, famous author of the book "The Gentleman" suggests just one cm which is about 2/5 of an inch. To learn more about him, check out our video interview here.
If you go back to the 50's, you find guys that suggest just a quarter inch or about 0.6 cm or alternatively, 2 cm which is 4/5 if an inch or almost an entire inch.
We, at Gentleman's Gazette, believe that it's a matter of taste and personally, I prefer anything in around half an inch, maybe a little bit more. What's more important than an exact measurement is proportion. Ideally, you want the amount of shirt cuff you show here to correspond to the amount of shirt you show on the back of your neck. So if you have half an inch on the back of your neck, you should show about half an inch on your shirt cuff. It's much easier to adjust the sleeve length of the jacket or a shirt, rather than adjusting it on the neck.
If you decide you don't want to show any shirt cuff at all, make sure that the sleeve length is not too long but rather proper and ends right past the little crease in your hand or the root of your thumb.
The other problem a lot of men face is having a large shirt cuff fit into a tapered jacket sleeve. That leaves you with a cuff bunching up and it simply looks terrible. if you have a barrel cuff with buttons on your shirt, you definitely want a more tapered jacket sleeve otherwise, it looks disproportionate.
Traditionally, button cuffs were a bit more casual so with the more formal double-breasted suit, you would always wear French cuffs or double cuffs with cuff links.
Today, you can basically wear anything you want but if you want to adhere to the classic dress code you should always go with barrel cuffs for more casual ensembles and French cuffs for more formal outfits.
In my opinion, Prince Charles does a very good job in balancing his shirt cuffs, his sleeves, and his neck. Next time you see a picture of him or see him on TV, pay attention to that.
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