How to Cuff Your Jeans – 4 Denim Do’s and Don’ts

We’ve all been there –  we find a pair of jeans that cling so perfectly to our thighs and bottom that it doesn’t matter that the hem needs altering. When the moment finally comes and we take that pair out of the closet, we realize we haven’t gotten around to bringing it to the tailor’s. So we do the next best thing – we cuff them. We start to roll and unroll, fold and unfold, until an hour has passed and the outfit still isn’t right. Luckily, we have an awesome denim cuffing guide for you:

1. DO play around with proportions.

Apart from being a quick-fix for bottoms that we didn’t have time to alter, the main reason to cuff denims is to create a break that gives the illusion of slimmer ankles.  This would mean shortening the length of your jeans, allowing you more room to play around with proportions. Up your stylish anté by trying to find a good balance between differing jean widths and the rest of your outfit – you can do this by layering different lengths, or by breaking up your outfit into coherent chunks.

We love how Poppy Delevingne used a genius combination of lengths, colors and textures to complement her cuffed jeans, putting together a seamless outfit out of seemingly incoherent pieces. We are also huge fans of how Julianne Hough broke her outfit into chunks, pulling it all together with an earthy color combination.

Cuff Jeans ProportionsJulianne Hough goes out for lunch on Melrose Place, Los Angeles, October 3, 2013; Poppy Delevingne at the London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2014, February 15, 2014; Lucy Mecklenburgh at the Petits Bisous Boutique party in London, United Kingdom, February 13, 2014

2. DO know your cuff types.

Cuffing your denims isn’t as simple as rolling the hem up to your desired length. There are a number of different cuff types, and it’s important to know which ones to use where. Cuff types generally differ in two areas: 1) the height and 2) the thickness of the cuff. Thin, pressed cuffs generally look best with skinny jeans, while thick and bulky ones often complement loose and ragged jeans.

This is not the be-all-end-all rule in cuffing, of course, as Gwen Stefani clearly demonstrates below. Despite having a slightly dropped crotch and a raggedness to her denim, she chose a blunt pressed cuff to create a sophisticated feel to her outfit.

Cuff Jeans Echo Jeans FallRihanna parties at Bjouis nightclub after her second DWT Twickenham show in London, June 16, 2013; Anna Friel leaves the Vaudeville Theatre after performing in the play Uncle Vanya in London, January 3, 2013; Gwen Stefani at the Paddington Los Angeles premiere at the TCL Chinese Theatre, January 10, 2015

3. DO cuff according to the occasion.

The type of cuff you choose can make or break the feel of your outfit. A nicely pressed cuff paired with pointed toe heels easily creates an outfit that exudes sophistication, while a messily rolled up cuff goes well with sneakers, a simple tee and an oversized tote. Allow your cuffing to echo the feel that you are going for.

We love how a similar pair of jeans donned by Poppy Delevingne, Ashley Tisdale, and Jessica Alba can have such different auras simply by choosing different cuffs. Poppy opted for the pressed type for her sophisticated night out while Ashley decided to tone it down a notch by folding up the hem. Jessica, on the other hand, decided to go the extreme youthful route but donning a messy cuff to go with her sneakers and tee.

Cuff Jeans TypesPoppy Delevingne at the London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2014, February 17, 2014; Ashley Tisdale is seen on Robertson Blvd after shopping at Intermix in Los Angeles, August 6, 2013; Jessica Alba grabs lunch from Le Pain Quotidien in Beverly Hills, September 28, 2013

4. DO wear pretty shoes.

When you’re out to show more skin below the cuffs, why not go the distance? Venture out by wearing shoes that are fun to show off, such as those with gorgeous cuts, crazy colors, or a barrage of texture. We personally recommend shoes that show off skin, or those that have gorgeous ankle straps. If you’re still not content with that, experiment with colored socks as well.

We love the simplicity of Pixie Geldof’s choice of classic but modern footwear, which perfectly complements her haircut and oversized tee, as well as the crazy cut of Gwen Stefani’s heels and Rihanna’s brightly colored pair.

Cuff Jeans Wear Good ShoesGwen Stefani visits an acupuncture clinic in Koreatown, Los Angeles, July 16, 2014; Pixie Geldof at the Diet Coke 30th anniversary party held at Sketch, London, January 30, 2013; Rihanna leaving the Lowry hotel in Manchester, June 13, 2013

1. DON’T cover your ankles.

Oftentimes, we cuff for the sake of shortening ill-tailored jeans. This in itself is not bad, but when you let functionality take over without double-checking your style, you’re most likely to end up amiss. Cuffing adds bulk to the ankle area, and when you leave no room for that area to breathe, you will create an unflattering shape for your body. Congratulations, you just missed the entire point of cuffing.

We don’t really have much to say about Alicia Keys and Natalie Imbruglia, apart from how bottom-heavy their one-fold cuff has made them appear. Oh, and Rita Ora, please lose the warmers. And everything else, for that matter.

Cuff Jeans Dont Hide SkinAlicia Keys at the 2004 Billboard Music Awards held at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, August 12, 2004; Rita Ora leaves her house in West London, United Kingdom, on March 18, 2015; Natalie Imbruglia at the 2005 95.8 Capital FM Awards held at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London, England, March 23, 2005

2. DON’T cuff jeans that have the same (or wider) ankle width as the thighs.

As much as creating breaks in cuffing seems like an easy concept to grasp, these breaks have to be seamless. Cuffing jeans that are consistent in width throughout will create a tree trunk-like silhouette with harsh breaks, as opposed to nicely proportioned ones. Same advice goes for flared jeans – do not attempt to cuff them if you wish to avoid having bells as ankles.

Fergie, Christina Aguilera, and Lori Loughlin all missed the opportunity to create a svelte denim look for themselves by falling for this cuffing mistake. Remember, cuff to create nice proportions.

Cuff Jeans Mind Your WidthLori Loughlin out shopping in West Hollywood, October 22, 2013; Christina Aguilera at the Disneyland 50th Anniversary “Happiest Homecoming On Earth” Celebration in Disneyland, California, April 5, 2005; Fergie at the Teen Choice Awards held at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, California, August 16, 2005

3. DON’T cuff extremely tight skinny jeans.

Apart from skinny jeans making your legs look like they’re suffocating, cuffing them will increase that look of your skin wanting to burst out. If your jeans are too long and folding is inevitable, try folding the hems inward once. However, we still recommend not wearing skinny jeans that are way too small for you.

Hilary Duff and Michelle Heaton kind of make us want to scramble for a pair of scissors to help their legs breathe, and those tight looking cuffs at the end aren’t helping at all.

Cuff Jeans Extremely SkinnyMichelle Heaton outside the Embassy Club in London, England, September 29, 2005; Hilary Duff takes her son Luca to baby class in Sherman Oaks in Los Angeles, March 6, 2013

4. DON’T overdo cuffing.

When we have the freedom to decide what kind and how much cuffing to perform on our denims, we have a tendency to overdo the folding and the rolling. Start a little at a time, trying out different varieties, and progress from there. Overthinking or being lazy will get you in the trap of the “too” – too big, too high, too low, etc. There is always a nicer way to cuff your jeans.

Sarah Jessica Parker and Duffy seemed to have perfected the cuffing-in-a-rush technique, while Estelle seemed to have spent quite some time in front of the mirror deciding how much to cuff. Don’t fall into the trap of overdoing cuffs.

Cuff Jeans Don't OverdoEstelle at MARIAH CAREY’s birthday party and record launch of “The Emancipation of Mimi” held at Tantra Nightclub in London, England, March 26, 2005; Sarah Jessica Parker takes her children to school on a cold day in Manhattan, February 12, 2014; Duffy at the All Points West Festival at the Liberty State Park in New Jersey, August 8, 2008

Credit: FayesVision / Will Alexander / Lia Toby / TNYF / POP / PNP / Jody Cortes / David Mepham / Nikki Nelson / Daniel Deme / Michael Wright / Owen Beiny / Ryan / WENN.com

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