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The Cuffed Sleeve

One of the most basic sleeve styles is the cuffed sleeve. The cuff can take many forms, from the familiar ‘man’s shirt’ sleeve cuff, to simple band or piping cuffs.

This first cuff (above) is a band cuff that fastens with a single button in a narrower variation on the standard shirt cuff. It has pleats on either side of the button and a short placket opening that enables the hand to slide through.

Band cuffs without fastenings at the wrist are of course loose enough to allow the hand to slip through – piping cuffs are a very narrow type of cuff in this style – while band cuffs on the upper arm (such as on short puffed sleeves) often don’t have fastenings.

Another variation in the man’s shirt cuff is the French cuff, which is doubled in length and folded back. On a man’s shirt, cufflinks are used to fasten the two ends together. This is a more formal shirt worn with a suit by groomsmen or high-powered businessmen for a very debonair look. My silk gingham shirt has French cuffs that are simply folded back with the ends left loose – a contrast with the informal sash tie at the waist.

A more interesting type of cuff is the multi-buttoned style. These cuffs are usually quite fitted. I am wearing a silk blouse with four-button cuffs, but two-button cuffs are more common to see. In the Victorian era, very long, fitted, buttoned cuffs up to the elbow were a popular style, and were usually topped with a blouson shoulder. This type of sleeve is called a gigot – French for the back leg of an animal, a prettier name than ‘leg of mutton’ – or even Gibson Girl sleeves after the Victorian era archetype, who wore gigot sleeves on the classic pigeon-breasted blouses – we’ll visit those as soon as I find one to add to my wardrobe!

Refresh your sleeve knowledge by visiting the gallery for the whole set so far.

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