A cuff is an extra layer of fabric at the lower edge of the sleeve of a garment covering the arms. In U.S. usage the word may also refer to the end of the leg of a pair of pants. The functional purpose of turned cuffs is to protect the material from fray and, when frayed, to allow the cuffs to be repaired or replaced without major changes to the garment.
Cuffs may be made by turning back the material, or a separate band of material may be sewn on or worn separately attached by buttons or studs. A cuff may show an ornamental border, or have an addition of lace or other trimming.
Except on casual attire, shirt cuffs are generally divided down one edge and then fastened together, so they can let a hand through and then fit more snugly around the wrist. Some sweaters and athletic garments (both tops and pants) have cuffs that either contain elastic or are woven so as to stretch around a hand or foot and still fit snugly, accomplishing the same purpose.
Divided shirt cuffs are of three kinds, depending on how they fasten:
- Button cuffs, also called barrel cuffs, which have buttonholes on the one side and buttons on the other (sometimes more than one, so that the fit can be adjusted).
- Link cuffs, which have buttonholes on both sides and are meant to be closed with cufflinks or silk knots. They can be fastened either "kissing" style, where the insides of both sides are pressed together, or as "barrel cuffs", where one side lies over the other (the way button cuffs are always closed). Link cuffs come in two kinds:
- Single cuffs-the original linked cuff, it is required for white tie and is the more traditional choice for black tie. Some traditionalists may wear this style with lounge suits as well.
- Double cuffs or French cuffs, which are twice as long and worn folded back on themselves. French cuffs were once considered to be more formal than button cuffs, although they are seeing a resurgence in the business environment. Traditional dress required that French cuffs be worn with a tie and jacket. However due to the emergence of business casual, French cuffs are now being worn without tie or jacket. French cuffs are generally preferred for semi-formal, black tie events.
- Convertible cuffs, which may be closed with buttons or with cufflinks.
Most trouser legs are finished by hemming the bottom to prevent fraying. Trousers with cuffs ("turn-ups" in UK usage), after hemming, are rolled outward and sometimes pressed or stitched into place.
There are two main reasons for trousers to be cuffed:
- If a pair of trousers are too long for the wearer, excess material can be rolled back to prevent catching or tripping.
- Some prefer the appearance of cuffed trousers to hemmed. The cuff also adds weight to the bottom of the leg to help the drape of the trousers.