What is a Working Cuff?

Several people now have asked the question... "What is a working cuff?" So I thought I would give a quick explanation.

On the cuff of a jacket (or coat as we say in Savile Row) there are buttons. Traditionally there were always 4 or more casually 3. The question is - why are they there?

In times past a jacket was worn at all times. To be seen without a jacket on while working was considered poor form. So, for times when you needed to work with your hands and arms, you needed to roll your sleeves up.

How do you roll your sleeves up? You unbutton the ends just as you would for a shirt. Which is why there are buttons at the ends of the sleeves.

Over the years people wore jackets less and less while working especially for manual work, so the need to roll your sleeves up became redundant, but the buttons and buttonholes were kept.

With cheap ready to wear and cheap tailoring, one way to cut the cost of manufacture was simply to sew the buttons on, but not make any buttonholes, or make fake buttonholes (known as sham holes).

Today, this is pretty much the norm - most jackets and suits have buttons on the cuffs but no buttonholes. In high end tailoring the buttonholes were always made as real working holes even though they were rarely if ever, used.

A working cuff is simply a jacket made with real button and buttonholes on the cuffs which actually work.

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1 comment:

Jenny K. said...

that makes sense, kind of dumb that they kept the buttons, but I guess it's the style.

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