Finding a pair of jeans with the perfect wash, fit, length and price tag can be — to put it mildly — a challenge. Still, with a trusty tailor you needn’t worry about items two and three so much. Waists can be taken in, pant legs cinched, hemlines altered.
But tailoring or slashing (all the rage as of late) your hems is just so…permanent. While we see the merits of having your bottoms altered to fit your specific size and shape, we say leave the length alone. Striking the perfect jean-to-ankle-to-shoe ratio is a daily struggle and the more material you have to work with, the better. In the end, the key to always hitting that just-right height isn’t a trip to the tailor — it’s knowing how to cuff jeans with aplomb.
Several well-respected denim designers have cosigned the untailoring trick. Loewe’s Jonathan Anderson recently updated the label’s signature fisherman jeans with a contrasting, exaggerated cuff. Frame’s best-selling Le High straight-leg jeans come with a simple roll installed.
Not to sound like a cheesy infomercial, but do you struggle to recreate these fitted, fashion-forward folds at home? Whether you’re a fan of Anderson’s super dramatic mid-calf cuffed jeans or in the market for a subtler effect, we got you. Scroll down for a visual guide to all the style star-approved cuff styles.
The Once-Over Cuff
If you’re wearing a mule (or, for that matter, any ankle-exposing shoe) or don’t have a ton of excess length to work with, consider a clean once-over cuff. To create this simple cuff, fold the bottom hem of your pant up just once. It’s important that the fold hits at most an inch above the ankle bone — you want to get that coveted leg-lengthening effect, you don’t want to leave an awkward amount of skin exposed. Otherwise, how narrow or wide you make the cuff is totally up to you. We like this one with vintage-feeling (read: relaxed fit) denim.
The Raw Hem Cuff
Basically, repeat the once-over cuff process on cutoff hem jeans. This’ll make your punky denim feel a little more classic and, as an added bonus, keep those flyaway threads from touching city streets or other such questionable surfaces.
The Mid-Calf Cuff
This over-the-top fold amps up any outfit, but looks especially good with stiff-straight or wide-leg denim (made with 6-foot-1-inch supermodels in mind). Note: The best thick, shin-skimming cuffs measure under 6 inches. Also, not to sound like a broken record, but make sure your DIY hemline hits above the ankle bone. Lastly, for an even sassier look, Vogue editor Steff Yotka recommends adding some colorful stitching at the edges. It’s easily removed and keeps your cuff firmly in place throughout the day.
The Rolled Cuff
Here, newly minted catwalker Paloma Elsesser demonstrates one of the most versatile cuff styles, the rolled cuff. To achieve this look, first pinch and tuck your bottom seam, then fold up your pant leg two or three times. Note: Overly narrow rolls lead to bunching. For a subtle, relatively flat end result, keep your rolls around an inch in width. This style looks particularly great with a sneaker or ankle boot.
The “Hello” Sailor and 1986 Cuffs
About a minute into the denim-centric installment of J.Crew’s informative video series Style Hacks, the company’s former (sob) Chief Design Officer Somsack Sikhounmuong and editor Halsey Anderson guide you through two #branded, slightly altered takes on the mid-calf and rolled cuffs.
Finally, if you’d still rather have the wristwork done for you, we’ve rounded up a few of our fave pre-rolled jeans in the slideshow below. (Oh, and because cuffs tend to look better/are more visible on blue jeans, these are all blue jeans.)