The Little Trend That Could: Rolled-Up Pant Cuffs
October 18, 2010 3 Comments
As a fashion statement, rolled-up pant cuffs can be traced back to the 50s and 60s when larger-than-life legends such as James Dean, Marlon Brando, and even Elvis, were immortalized in iconic photos depicting them in rolled pant cuffs. The style faded, then inexplicably reappeared in a WHAM! video (1:06) of all places, launching an 80s come-back in both men’s and women’s fashion.
In 2004, designer Thom Browne put into motion a first attempt at the revival of the raised hem, which didn’t take off right away. Somewhere in between 2006 and 2008, designers like Marc Jacobs and DSquared jumped on the short hem and rolled-up pant leg bandwagon giving the trend momentum.
Since 2008, the men’s trend has gone viral from isolated hipster to mainstream cool. It even spawned New York Times and Wall Street Journal articles on the subject. We’re now left observing and carefully tracking this spring/summer epidemic as it creeps and evolves into the fall/winter. The rolled-up pant cuff looks great in the summer on a pair of khakis with a pair of dock shoes or sandals. However, we’re also seeing a shorter hem on dress pants with dress shoes and rolled-up cuffs on dark denim jeans with black lace-up boots or canvas shoes for the fall.
There are some general rules of thumb regarding the actual ‘roll’, if you will. The cotton canvas trouser should consist of one inch of cuff folded three times and with denim, a single two-inch cuff folded twice or larger three-to-four inch cuff folded once. I don’t like seeing the cuffs all frumpy and coming undone, so I give them a taste of the old steam iron (especially on denim) for a better hold. Khakis and boot cut jeans fit a little looser so it’s recommended that the pants are first pegged slightly on the first fold (video demo by Reliant K here), then folded twice more for a tapered look. The great thing about the rolled-up pant cuff against a nice pair of shoes is that you can now show off your patterned socks (see my post Socks In The City).
Several magazine articles and web posts have listed a few don’ts with respect to the rolled-up pant cuff that include no wearing the cuff with formal shoes, no rolled-up skinny jeans or wool pants. Others state that the rolled-up cuff gives the illusion of looking shorter, so shorties out there beware. I wouldn’t recommend rolling up the cuffs on your business suit, or even worse hemming your new dress pants to a fixed cuff. Keep the look casual-to-business casual and stick to the non-committal rolled-up cuff rather than a shorter fixed hem…for now at least.