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Off the Cuff Blog

A Suit That Fits Blog

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Tag >> Working Cuff
Having a quick scout on the spider web for new inspiration, I came across a really cool picture of every ladies dream man - Colin Firth. Ever since he was Mr. Darcy, Colin has had a huge following and has always stepped up to the plate in terms of his attire.
For starters, it's a dark colour and a 2-button jacket at that - perfect business attire. It shifts slightly from a purely work based suit, when the peaked lapel is used. The peaked lapel was taken from the double breasted suit and used on the single breasted suit - most popularly in the 1930s. Since then, we've adopted the single breasted, peaked lapel suit as something quite dressy and therefore, when styled correctly, can be a perfect day to night cross over.
The buttons, also vary from the four that we usually see on the cuff. The last buttonhole is left open; this is a sign of a working buttonhole, something all great suits should probably have - in my opinion!
Have a look at a similar suit in a midnight blue here.
Sep 03, 2010 // Working Cuffsuit cuffjacket sleevesFit
A Brief History.Manual workers often needed to roll up the sleeves of their jackets while working; this led to the design of functional cuff buttons, enabling the cuff to be easily unfastened. Doctors and medical professionals also needed to roll up their sleeves, leading to the working cuff sometimes being referred to as a surgeon's cuff.
Is a working cuff for me?In bespoke tailoring, sleeves usually have working cuff button holes. Although no longer required to be rolled up, the working cuff is a little detail that sets the jacket apart from the mass produced off the peg garments which generally have decorative and non-functional buttons. I always opt for the working cuff on my Jackets precisely for this reason. Some wearers leave the first button undone to reveal that they can afford a bespoke suit, although it is proper to leave these buttons done up. Personally if left undone I think it looks more like the wearer has forgotten to button himself up when getting dressed.
In saying that I can often be seen sporting the look of these buttons undone, however, I can assure you that this is purely for demonstration purposes only during fittings. Who am I kidding! Of course I leave my first cuff button undone! Think of it as a subtle way of saying I'm a member of an exclusive club. Make your own mind up, but remember rules are there to be broken, do what's necessary to stand out from the crowed, looking good means feeling confident.
So what will you choose? To work or not to work?
A shirt with cuffs and collar (usually white) that are a different colour to the body is not easy to wear well. Sometimes known as a contrast collar, it is more often worn badly than flatteringly.
It should be a slightly unusual part of a man's outfit, rather than something that glares. The key, for me, is to wear it with a tie that is dark enough or colourful enough to push the contrast collar into the background. White collar and cuffs hark back to the days when both items would be removable. As the only items that would really be seen the body buried beneath tie, waistcoat and jacket that was not removed the collar and cuffs needed to be clean, smart and crisp. Hence the starch.
(And that moment in the Dickens novel Martin Chuzzlewit where one character is revealed to have packed piles of collars and cuffs for his journey to America, but no shirts. All one needed was the starched white extremities to give an impression of respectability.)
Being detachable was very practical. The collar and cuffs wear out quickest, so having replaceable ones considerably lengthened the life of the shirt. Even today, Turnbull Asser tell me that they frequently reinvigorate bespoke customers' shirts by replacing the collar and cuffs with white ones (the original colour sometimes being out of production or difficult to match).
But the men (usually bankers) that you see wearing them often look garishly, not to say cheaply dressed. That's because the tie they choose is often too pale or too plain to draw attention. And the outfit becomes about the contrast between shirt body and shirt collar.
So with a blue shirt with white collar, say, a pale blue tie or one with only a small geometric pattern is not going to be strong enough. If it were replaced with a navy-blue tie with silver club stripe, attention would shift to the tie and away from the collar. Light blue shirt with contrasting white collar
Pattern is as important as tone. Yesterday I saw a young banker wearing a plain black tie with a blue/white contrast collar. Aside from the fact that plain black will often look cheap, the lack of pattern ruined the combination. In contrast, I observed a slightly older man in the City wearing a dark grey tie against the same shirt, the tie patterned by silver paisley motifs. It was still subtle, but there was no question of the collar dominating.
Think of the contrast between shirt and collar in the same way as you would the stripes of a suit. If the stripes are so strong that they dominate the outfit, the wearer is unlikely to look chic or sophisticated. And the tie is, in its way, a little like the pocket handkerchief: usually it is meant to stand out against the suit, just like a tie. The collar should not.
Oh, and it goes without saying that the contrast collar and cuffs looks a lot better when you keep your jacket on.
Your suit for business meetings should be flawless. Your everyday suit should also be flawless, but everyone needs that one suit that gives them that extra bit of oomph and confidence which will make or break a presentation, promotion opportunity or appraisal.
The fit is paramount which is a given as this should be key in everything that you wear, but extra detailing in a conservative manner could make all the difference. This suit should by no means make you stand out like a sore thumb which would normally go against everything I believe in. Essential attributes for this suit that could really make it would be a beautifully hand-stitched notched lapel (peaked if you think you can get away with it in your company) and working cuffs to illustrate it is hand-tailored without being gaudy. The most important factor? A stunning material. Silk (PTD ) or a Mohair mix (VBC ) is what you want.
These materials are classic colours but the silks have that little bit of sheen and the Mohair mix has a two tone tonic suit nature to them. The point of this suit is for your boss to notice you but for them to not know why they are noticing you!.

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