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Turn Ups For The Books

Tailoring authority, Christopher Modoo, proffers some thoughts on mastering the relationship between trousers and shoes.

Turn Ups For The Books

How you finish the hems of your trousers is a matter of personal taste, but getting the details right will both complement your Crockett & Jones shoes and enhance your sense of style.

Trouser hems should cover between half and two-thirds of your feet with a slight ‘break’ at the front. Break is the name given to the small folds of trouser cloth that gather on the top of your shoe when worn, and while it is acceptable and indeed preferable to have some small break at the front of the trouser, there should be a clean-hanging unbroken line of cloth from the back of the knee to above the heel of the shoe. Most tailors will gently slant a trouser’s hemline to the heel by approximately half an inch to create the correct shape. This is a good choice for conservative business dress; think blue serge suit, striped poplin shirt, dark tie and polished Oxfords like the C&J Connaught.

This technique can be exaggerated to create a more dramatic angle to the trouser hemline and is a popular feature with military tailors; known as the ‘Guardsmen’ or ‘Cavalry’ finish. The result is a precise look best worn with very little trouser break, so a good tailor will always ask what style of shoe you plan to wear with your suit. Guardsmen hems are a great option for heavier-weight cloths with little drape like traditional Bedford cord or cavalry twill. Pair classic trousers like this with highly polished or ‘bulled’ Chelsea boots – to use the military term. C&J’s Chelsea 8 boots in Black Calf with rubber City Soles are a smart choice.

‘Turn-ups’ or ‘cuffs’ as they are known in America add weight to the hang of your trousers, require more cloth to tailor (they were banned during the Second World War to preserve fabric supplies) and are enjoying a healthy renaissance. After what seems an age of skinny fit clothing, we are thankfully seeing a return to fuller-cut clothing of classical proportions.

Wider-leg trousers with pleated tops are complemented by ‘Permanent Turn Ups’ as the extra weight allows the pleats to hang straighter into the front crease. The depth of the cuff can be influenced by the height of the gentleman and the size of his shoes. Personally, I like good-sized two inch turn-ups regardless. There is nothing more elegant than cuffed trousers in rich grey flannel framing a pair of Polo Suede Cavendish tassel loafers worn with bottle green over-the-calf socks. Incidentally, always wear long socks with C&J shoes; there’s nothing less elegant than a flash of hairy ankle beneath your trouser hems.

Be warned, cuffs can collect debris and require regular brushing. Thoughtful tailors sometimes add hidden buttons that allow for your turn-ups to be unfastened to make this task a little easier.

In contrast to Permanent Turn Ups, casual trousers can be rolled up to create the correct length. Jeans aficionados enjoy exposing the tiny row of red stitching that signifies the provenance of genuine selvedge denim. Ideal with chunkier Country Grain leather boots like C&J’s iconic Coniston.

You can even roll your casual cotton trousers a little shorter for comfort in warm climes. This look is best achieved by going ‘sock-less’ with a pair of softly structured suede driving shoes like C&J’s Navy Como model. Wear yours with elegant cream cotton trousers to pick out the shoes’ contrast stitching, and don’t be afraid to forego socks either; it’s a contemporary look that works well in hot weather.

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Words by

Chris Modoo

Chris Modoo

Writer, creative and co-founder of Kit Blake London.

Christopher Modoo is a writer, creative and co-founder of Kit Blake London, a new menswear brand making ‘proper’ tailored trousers. With over 25 years of experience in Savile Row and Jermyn Street retail, what Chris doesn’t know about British style (and good shoes) isn’t worth knowing. He’s also a film buff with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the most stylish movies of the 20th century. He’s even an advocate of over-the-calf socks.

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