How to

How to wear the correct sleeve length of your suit?

16 Dec , 2011  

How to wear the correct sleeve length of your suit?

Different people make different choices, but everybody should let their sleeves of the shirt pop out a little bit. How much exactly? That is where you can let your creativity kick in. You should always take two aspects in account; the sleeve length of your shirt and the sleeve length of your suit.

A sleeve is defined as something that covers your arm, not your arm and hand. From this basic principle, we can continue our story.


Notice that the sleeves of a Double-Cuffed shirt tend to stick out more than a Single Cuffed shirt. The reason for this is that the sleeves of the Single Cuffed shirt fall on your wristbone and the sleeves of the Double Cuffed shirt stick out a little bit further than your wristbone, almost at the beginning of your hand. So what is the correct sleeve length for a shirt? With the Single Cuffed shirt falling on your wristbone, it should show about 0,50 inch (or approximately 1,3 cm) underneath your suit’s sleeves. The Double Cuffed shirt is allowed to show more, think about 0,80 inch (approximately 2 cm).


The second aspect to take in account is the sleeve length of the suit. These sleeves should always end at the wristbone, with your arm at rest. This way the shirt has enough length to stick out underneath it. Please, never, ever demonstrate that your sleeves are too short by sticking out your both arms. First of all, you will never assume a position like that, unless driving a car. Secondly, you are not allowed to wear a jacket whilst driving a car.


I personally think that it is a great detail to have your shirt pop out a little bit underneath your sleeves. Especially when you are wearing a coloured shirt, the matching colours of your combination are a great additive to your appearance. Wearing your sleeves on the correct length also shows that you are wearing a suit tailored to your sizes and not some suit in somebody else’s size. So if you have your tricks up your sleeve, visit a tailor, and make sure you wear your heart on your sleeve.



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  1. Thony-d says:

    Hey Bobby!

    Thanks voor the tips man, now when I go to India or China for some suits I now exactly how I want them to make the sleeves. The tips you guys give are awesome.


  2. Remember to make your left cuff wider to create extra space for your watch!

  3. Thom says:

    Bobby, I have never heard of such a thing as making cuffs two different widths.

  4. Hi Thom!, apologies for the late reply, I was in Dusseldorf/Germany on the Christmas-market enjoying my Gluhwein… sehr gemutlich…
    About the cuffs, most of my dress shirts have a wider left cuff than right cuff… I do this on purpose to create extra space for my watch.. I have measured it; my left cuff is 1cm ‘longer’ than my right cuff… It’s not a lot, but I find it more comfortable this way… Whenever I choose to wear a pullover or sweater over my shirt, I naturally leave all buttons on my cuffs open..

  5. Tyren Patterson says:

    Hey Bobby

    im a 35 length in the arm. With a french cuff shirt that leaves considerable amount of material in the arm. The shirts are from Hawes and Curtis off the rack so I can complain, it to me is not all that attractive without a suit but with it look great.

    Your thoughts on extra material in the arms?

  6. Hey Tyren,

    If you buy your shirts off the rack and have a 35 length in the arm, you will always have to come up with some solution to make the shirt look better without the suit… If I were you, I would visit a looking tailor and have him do simple job: shortening the sleeves. Make sure you stretch your arms out a little bit when he is pinning you down, just to make sure he doesn’t take out too much fabric. If he’s a good tailor, he will be able to even replace the buttons on your lower arm. You shoudn’t pay more than a couple of pounds and have it done to one shirt at first: this way, you can check whether or not the tailor got his skills… good luck, and let me know what the result was!

    (For those that didn’t know, a standard shirt is about 65cm in sleeve length, an extra sleeve length shirt about 70cm (f.e. 42-7))

  7. Tyren Patterson says:

    Thanks Bobby,

    I appreciate the info. I have taken a shirt to the tailor and will update you when its done. Is it common that most men do not concern themselves with this question because a suit jacket usually covers the shirt?

  8. Raj says:

    From your post i understand that the sleeve of your suit need not neccessarily reveal the shirt’s sleeve. But when i wore my suit i noticed that the suit’s sleeve was exactly covering my shirt’s sleeve, but some of my friends told that trademark of a suit is to reveal part of the shirt’s sleeve. Im confused on whether to make my suit’s sleeve a bit short in order to reveal my shirt’s sleeve.
    Please help me out.

  9. JC says:

    Can you please advise as to the correct sleeve length for a short-sleeved dress shirt (which will not be worn underneath a suit)?

    Thanks very much for your help.

  10. FrankC says:

    Most people say a suit jacket’s sleeves should show 3/8″ to 1/2″ of the shirt cuffs. It’s a sharp look and I like that a lot … but I have 2 dilemmas:

    1) Not having the shirt cuffs showing seems to give a softer, more regal look which I like too. Like in the remake of “Manchurian Candidate” in which almost all the suits (including Liev Schreiber’s and Denzel Washington’s) are worn w/o the shirt cuffs showing.

    2) Sometimes, especially in Spring and Summer I like to wear just the jacket or a blazer with T-shirts and jeans. The problem then is that if I have the jacket’s sleeves tailored to show shirt cuffs, they will now look too short when I am wearing short-sleeve article underneath it. I don’t like this look at all. It makes you look like a child wearing a hand-me-down.

    What do you guys think about my comments.

  11. FrankC says:

    Hey Bobby,

    Re-reading your article above, I am now a little confused. You first say, “Single Cuffed shirt fall on your wrist-bone … With the Single Cuffed shirt falling on your wristbone, it should show about 0,50 inch (or approximately 1,3 cm) underneath your suit’s sleeves.” So, this leads me to interpret that the suit’s sleeves should end at approximately 1/2″ ABOVE the wrists-bone. But then you go on to say, “… the sleeve length of the suit. These sleeves should always end at the wristbone”.
    You see my confusion? You seems to be saying that both the (single cuffed) shirt sleeves and the suits sleeves be cut at the wrist-bone, which, of course, will prevent the shirt cuffs from peaking out.
    May you clarify? Should the suit sleeves be above the wrist-bone and the shirt sleeves be at the wrist-bone or should the suit sleeves be at the wrist-bone and the shirt sleeves be BELOW the wrist-bone?

  12. Lance Miller says:

    @ Raj: Yep, it’s a good idea to make the sleeves of the suit a bit shorter to reveal some of the shirt’s cuffs.
    @ JC: Any length that feels right for you. However, if you wear short-sleeved shirts for business, it’s better if they come to your elbow than closer to your armpit ;-) If you don’t live in a super warm country, I wouldn’t advise wearing short-sleeved shirts. If you want to follow the etiquette, roll your long sleeves up to your elbow.
    @ FrankC: You’re right, the suit sleeves should be about 1/2″ shorted than the shirt sleeves, and the shirt sleeves cuffs should be at the wrist bone. Those are some very interesting comments. It’s personal.. I like to wear my t-shirt & jacket combo with my jacket sleeves rolled up so then it looks more natural and less akward indeed.

    Cheers gents,


  13. FrankC says:

    This maybe a little off topic but how about sleeves on a overcoat / outer jacket? My tailor says that for overcoat / outer jacket, the sleeves should be at the exact half way between the wrist-bone and the first thumb knuckle. I always feel that it’s a bit long. Maybe it’s just me b/c I am only 5’7″. What do you all think?

  14. Daniel says:

    “You should always take two aspects in account; the sleeve length of your shirt and the sleeve length of your suit.” Shouldn’t a third aspect, the body type, come into play? Tall people should show less cuff and short people more than the standard 1/2″?

  15. Paulo says:

    Here’s one that always gets me, should one iron the shirt sleeve seam facing outwards or behind ?

  16. Danish says:

    Hi Bobby,
    I am amazed at the way you patiently answer so many questions. I needed an advice from regarding the first suit that I am looking to buy for my job interview as I have just graduated from university.
    My problem is I cant find a good fitted suit for me off the shelf from a store. The reason is I am 5’10″ in height with a thin built, but my sleeve length is long. My shirt size is 15 1/2 with 34-35 sleeve length. What will be an optimum suit size for me?
    Regarding coat length, how do I know what is the right length of the coat? At the shoulder, is it ok, if coat is a little bit lose or should it be perfect fit? And since you have already answered my ques for sleeve length I guess I dont need to ask it?
    Please advise

  17. necole says:

    hinahanap k p young biting suit n pang babae?

  18. fashion 2012 says:

    This maybe a little off topic but how about sleeves on a overcoat / outer jacket?

  19. sabby says:

    thank you bobby. You really love suits it seems. Hail Barney Stinson. XD

  20. tony says:

    this is great article you are very help me kindly share next article on groom wedding suit and casual suit thanks

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  22. Mark says:

    Hey Bobby,

    Did you get tired of answering questions? The last one answered was in 2010. The questions continue in 2013. My question is:

    Does the proper length of shirt and jacket sleeves change over the years or from one country to another?

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