When people think suits, they usually tend to focus so much on the suit jacket that they forget about the pants. Beware, as doing the wrong thing when it comes to your suit pants will definitely flag you as style-less. We don’t want that for our readers, so we do feel obliged to answer the age old question, “to cuff or not to cuff”?
As you know, some pants will come pleated and some won’t. Pleats are more of an American phenomenon while flat front pants are more of a European reality.
The following is an example of a Sean John Suit with flat front pants (a European look):
The following is an example of pleated pants (with cuffs):
If there is ever a rule about cuffing your pants, it is simply that flat front pants should not have cuffs. Flat front pants and cuffs do not go together as they both arise from different cultures. In other words, mixing these two styles is not a good idea (generally, at least).
Now, some people confuse the issue. They think that because flat front pants should not have cuffs, that pleated pants should have cuffs. This is by no means true. It is true that pleated pants can have cuffs but it is not true that they must. One has to go back to the functional purpose of cuffs to realize why a tailor would hem your pants using this fashion. Cuffs tend to add weight to the bottom of your pants and so they help the pleats stand out better. This is the primary reason why tailors may hem your pants with cuffs if your pants come with pleats.
If you don’t consider yourself a tall person (i.e. you don’t mind looking taller), you have to consider that cuffs can potentially make you look shorter. In other words, if you want to look taller, stay away from cuffs. How you ask? What if you had pleated pants? Well, if your pants are heavy enough (i.e. 80z +) the weight of the pants can essentially perform the same functional purpose of the cuffs to begin with.
What about those really short cut Italian Pants? Occasionally, you’ll see flat front pants that are short cut and have cuffs because they need the extra weight to make sure that the pants cover as much of the legs as possible.
So, while it is impossible to form a generic rule around the cuff vs. no cuff concept, what one can do is realize why cuffs exist in the first place. If they make sense, then you should have them and vice-versa.
One final note that our readers should keep in mind is that while tuxedo pants can come pleated or non-pleated, they generally should not have cuffs. It’s just a tuxedo thing 🙂
Finally, if you are looking for more information, you should check out the following post from Men’s Flair: http://www.mensflair.com/style-advice/to-cuff-or-not-to-cuff.php