The 1980s pants cuff, or roll, originally inspired by style rebel James Dean’s iconic 1950s jeans, was called the French roll in its heyday. These throwback rolled hems are born anew from time to time, cropping up in slouchy, offbeat street styles and formalwear alike. To rock this ankle-baring look without cutting the leg at an unflattering length or channeling Huck Finn in clamdiggers, match the roll to the style of both legwear and footwear.
Things You'll Need
Select a pair of pants that will best hold the cuff. Wool and other formalwear fibers tend to slip, while denim and cotton canvas hold firmly.
Select a pant style that will best hold the cuff. Bootleg and flared pants, due to the widening shape at the hem, do not hold cuffs well. Instead, choose a straight leg, tapered, skinny or loose style.
Match the cuff height to the pants style. For straight leg, skinny, tapered or boyfriend pants, plan for a roll that rests below the calf or just above the biggest part of the calf to avoid creating an unflattering silhouette. For wide-legged pants that are too long to wear with a plain hem, keep the roll lower than the ankle.
Roll up the hem 1 inch for a small-sized cuff, 2 inches for a large cuff and 3 to 4 inches for an extra-large cuff. Make 2 or 3 more rolls, matching the size of the first roll, unless a single-roll look is desired. Stop rolling at the most flattering height.
Pair your new cuffs with the most flattering shoes possible. Cute flats match any roll style, but heels are better served by a dressier large roll and boots typically require multiple rolls, so that some ankle is exposed. Slip on a pair of colorful patterned socks to add a playful edge to your look.
For baggy pants like chinos, create pleats when rolling to encompass the extra fabric. Make one roll, then pinch the inside seam and fold it inward to create a pleat. Continue rolling carefully to incorporate the pleat into the cuff.
Embrace a sloppy cuff to dress down an outfit. Roll quickly, and do not worry about matching the folded edges to one another.
References and ResourcesJeans: A Cultural History of an American Icon; James Sullivan
The Wardrobe Wakeup: Your Guide to Looking Fabulous at Any Age; Lois Joy Johnson