Poll: Do you wear turn-ups?

Daniel Craig's flat front suit trousers in Quantum of Solace have turn-ups
Daniel Craig’s flat front suit trousers in Quantum of Solace have turn-ups

Permanent turn-ups—known as cuffs to the Americans—have come and gone through fashion over the years. The standard advice given on whether or not to hem trousers with turn-ups is to put them on pleated trousers and not on flat-front trousers. This is just a guideline some people follow and by no means is it a rule. The English aren’t nearly as fond of turn-ups as the Americans are. The traditional American trousers have a flat front with turn-ups whilst the classic British trousers have forward pleats and a plain hem. The only rule is that turn-ups should not be worn on formalwear. Turn-ups have the benefit of weighing down the bottom of the trousers, which is especially useful at keeping lightweight trousers looking neat. Some people think that turn-ups aren’t flattering on the height-challenged. But by weighing down the bottoms, turn-ups keep the crease straight, and reinforcing that straight line is beneficial to the shorter man. Today’s lighter and narrower trousers truly benefit from the added weight of turn-ups. Shorter men should opt for shorter turn-ups around 1 1/2 inches deep whilst taller men can wear turn-ups up to 2 inches deep.

Sean Connery’s Bond typically wears his pleated trousers with deep turn-ups—almost 2 inches—and his non-pleated without turn-ups. The exception to this is in Goldfinger where his pleated suit trousers are all without turn-ups. George Lazenby’s Bond only wears turn-ups on his tweed suit, which is also his only suit with pleated trousers. Roger Moore’s and Timothy Dalton’s Bonds never wear turn-ups. Since 1995 when Pierce Brosnan took over the role, James Bond’s pleated and non-pleated trousers almost consistently have turn-ups. Daniel Craig has continued to wear turn-ups on all suit trousers except the navy linen suit in Casino Royale‘s black-and-white pre-title sequence.

Do you wear turn-ups?

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  1. Almost always. The benefits are great, even on chinos. With those, you can turn them into plain hems when the bottom of the cuff is too frayed to look presentable anymore.

  2. All of my suits, including my “Skyfall-style” suits, have turn ups. Interestingly, they look better to me on the narrow legs of my “Skyfall-style” suits than on any other. I suppose that they are more noticeable, or “pop out” more, on that width of trousers – and they are 1-3/4″ despite my height being a hair under 5’9″.

    All of the trousers that I would wear with a sports coat don’t have turn-ups. For some reason they seem “too much” or too formal in my mind. I suppose that some of my trousers that I wear with sweaters (Donegal tweed, or dark charcoal with a single pleat) would look good with cuffs but I suppose I think that cuffs are not a must-have for a more casual look.

  3. Matt,

    Can you tell me the leg opening on these trousers in the picture. I’m only 5’8″ so I have never worn turn ups. I think if my leg opening was more narrow like the one DC is wearing I might be able to get away with it.

    • They’re arpund 16-17 inches. You should wear turn-ups that are 1.5 inches tall. They won’t make you look shorter, and by making your trousers hang straighter you will end up looking taller.

  4. I like a “West Point cut”, i.e., hemmed about 1 inch lower in the back than the front. This can make cuffs dificult, especially on striped trousers. I also like my cuffs to be 3/4 inch, but no more than 1 inch. Some presume that look is effeminate. I say it is in balance, like lapel width.

  5. I was told that pierce’s turn ups on TWINE were at least 1.5 to 2 inches length. I tried it and it worked well for me. On a different note I was told that you trousers should be a length that at no point will the sock show during the gait. I have seen way to many people wear their trousers like their one of “the outsiders”

    • 1.5 inches is a short turn-up and 2 inches is a tall turn-up. There’s a very big difference in that half-inch. I suspect Pierce’s were around 1.75 inches. Turn-ups help no sock to show because they weigh down the trousers. It’s okay if a little sock shows when walking (it can be hard to avoid), but never when standing still. And there’s another thing wrong with Daniel Craig’s suits in Skyfall! It is currently trendy to wear shorter trousers that show sock, but it’s not particularly elegant.

      • Matt, you are so right! “High water” pants are NOT elegant, even if some consider them “hip”.

      • Totally agree Matt! I find it annoying when people wear pants that are too short. This is particularly atrocious when wearing a suit.
        I see a lot of people in magazines here who wear really beautiful well fitting suits but with pants that are too short. Showing some shoes is fine if you want. But some are borderline manpris.

      • The problem comes with wearing trousers so narrow that they can’t fit over the shoes at all. That’s why mods in the 60s wore narrow trousers with chelsea or zip boots, so the socks wouldn’t show.

    • I wear narrow “cavalry” trousers with chukka boots. I find a slightly shorter trouser, with no break, works well with chukka boots. I wear jodphur boots for riding, but I don’t wear them around Town (where they are known as Chelsea boots). The Derby style of the chukka boot (aka desert boot if in suede) looks better to my eye than the elasticated jod boot.

  6. I have and like both. I often wear turnups with jeans. What I have plain I do not want to change, and vice versa; though I’m undecided on my navy linen suit. (currently plain, but a little too long so a decision either way needs to be made)

  7. I’m afraid, to my limited sartorial eye, turn ups smack of the late 80s, the very era of Bond clothing this blog seems to despise so much!
    I couldn’t ever wear them – in the back of my mind, people would be thinking “ooh, turn ups. How dated!”.
    As I said, it’s a limited knowledge!

    • Why worry about what other people think? In the 1970′s people thought pink crushed-velvet tuxedos were fashionable and “with it”; true elegance never goes out of style. If he were alive, Cary Grant (in any of his sartorial incarnations) would still be the best dressed man in the room!

      • Well I have very little fashion confidence and feel really awkward in anything remotely resembling a suit or trousers – it comes naturally to me to think “how am I going to be perceived in this?”.
        Matt, you know I’m not calling you a hypocrite, I hope! I love this site and I adore Dalton as forgive his faux pas so I’m just gently ribbing you for dissing my boyo’s wide shoulders and loose fit trousers 🙂
        (Quite rightly, too.)
        Turn ups were the thing to my school in 1989. As were button down shirt collars and paisley ties. And lots of hairspray. Even the guys. I cringe when I see anyone repeating these nasty schoolboy errors.

  8. I have over 30 suits most with a plain hem but I appreciate a solid 2 inch cuff and wear them mainly with a single or double pleated trouser. This day in age it is whatever the personal preference in with most everyone leaning towards the plain bottom

  9. Almost always. I’ve always rolled long sleeves up to the elbow, coming from a family that typically finds something grease-monkey to do before any given day ends, and it was a natural progression from that to start cuffing pants and short shirt-sleeves to instantly capture a vibe like you’d get from a James Dean or a Marlon Brando (but for me, it’s mostly to match my grandfather’s impeccable 50s/60s era sensibilities). There’s still something rather cool about rolling your pack of cigarettes up, too. The import with trousers or jeans is that they be well-fitting, lest you fall into 1990s ill-fit doom with fat, thick turn-ups that draw attention to themselves.

    It can also be a nice answer for a pair of pants that really fit well except for having an inch or two too much length in the leg (ditto, short shirts), which might not often happen buying new, but is a pretty common occurrence when you hit the thrift stores. I find myself hand-sewing permanent turn-ups into things, these days.

  10. Excuse an Englishman adding a comment to an American poll but I’ve recently purchased a pair of flannel trousers & for the first time in many years I specified turnups,or as our American cousins say,cuffs.The difference is amazing,a much better drape to the leg & a much smarter look overall,being of a more mature vintage I prefer a wider leg however anything over 18 inches is almost impossible to find in the uk.I will most likely have all my future trousers cuffed.

  11. As an Englishman who favours the traditional style of dress I have recently after some years returned to the cuffed or as we say turnups trouser.Charcoal grey flannels worn with a Harris Tweed jacket & with the cuffs the trousers hang so much better,over in the U.K.we prefer the trouser bottom resting on the shoe anything shorter looks as though it’s shrunk in the wash.Being of a more mature vintage I prefer my trouser with a wider leg ie 19/20 ins at the cuff but these aren’t readily available over here,the U.S.looser fit is more to my taste,those worn by Steve Martin in the Father Of The Bride looked just right.

  12. I’m having some flat front suit trousers altered to a narrower and more fashionable silhouette. This post by Matt has helped me decide on the width being 8 inches (ie 16 inch opening at the hem), with turn-ups of 1.5 inches. I had considered 1.25 inch turn-ups, but this post has taught me that would be a mistake (ie the minimum should be 1.5 ins).
    Thank you.


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