Rolling up the sleeves of your shirt can be both a utilitarian and aesthetic gesture. But it is necessary to know the men’s dress codes in order not to risk the mistake of taste. How to wear a shirt with rolled up sleeves when you are a man? Is it possible to combine elegance and casualness?

men's shirt with rolled up sleeves

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Why roll up the sleeves of your shirt?

Most shirts have a buttonhole at the cuffs. This allows the shirt to be opened to roll up the sleeves when needed. Originally, the sleeves of shirts were rolled up only to wash hands or when it was too hot. It is indeed more tasteful to do this than to take it off and be in a t-shirt, especially when the situation requires a minimum of formality. Nevertheless, it is quite acceptable nowadays to roll up the sleeves of shirts in a purely aesthetic approach, without breaking the codes of male elegance.

At what height to roll up the sleeves of his shirt

Depending on the situation and the desired effect, it is possible to roll up the sleeves of a shirt at different heights.

Roll up the sleeve at the wrist

This is the first level of rolling up. It consists in opening the buttonhole of the cuffs, or removing the cufflinks, to turn the cuff up one notch. It is a purely utilitarian roll-up, not meant to be worn naturally. It should only be used for hand washing or when a manual activity requires the wrists to be free.

Rolling up the sleeves at the forearm

This roll-up style allows you to stay classy while assuming a casual look. It’s perfect for formal situations, such as a meeting or business dinner. It increases freedom of movement, keeps you clean, and above all, frees you from too much formality that is detrimental to open discussions. Roll up your sleeves to the middle of the forearm for a better effect. This type of roll-up can be worn all day, but be sure to arrive with sleeves down and buttoned if you need to make a serious first impression. Rolling up the sleeves will come after the ice is broken.

Roll up the shirt sleeves to the elbow

This roll-up is clearly not suitable for formal or ceremonial situations, and should only be used for messy manual activities. The fold at the elbow is still very uncomfortable for the blood circulation as well as the joint. But if you can’t remove the shirt in case of very hot weather or dirty work (a plumbing or mechanical problem can happen quickly), you can roll up the sleeves of a shirt to the elbow. Then think about rolling them down, at least at the forearm, to take the strain off your joint and return to a certain elegance.

Sleeves rolled up above the elbow

Consider the elbow as the limit for rolling up the sleeves of a shirt. Beyond that, movement will become uncomfortable, and the overall aesthetic of the shirt will suffer. It was a very common style in America in the 80s, which emphasized a bad boy and rebel side. James Dean used to roll up his sleeves as high as possible in tight folds, so that he could hold his cigarette pack on his arm as if it were a pocket. This is, however, a difficult look to wear these days. If wearing shirts with the sleeves rolled up above the elbow appeals to you, why not go straight for a shirt, or a short sleeve shirt?

Sleeve roll-up styles

The height of the roll-up is not the only parameter to take into account when you decide to roll up the sleeves of your shirt. Depending on the effect you want to achieve, there are different options available to you. Simply roll up the sleeves by pushing it up, crumpling the fabric, for a totally casual look.

Pull it up and turn it inside out to avoid wrinkles, turn the cuffs inside out to maintain a certain formality, or fold it military style. To do this, you will have to fold the sleeve by turning it over portions of 2 to 5 centimeters, up to the forearm. Smooth the folds after each operation for a perfect result. This method is a little more time consuming, but is very suitable for professional meetings.

men's shirt with rolled up sleeves

Photo : Shutterstock

Asymmetrical roll-ups and bad taste

It is perfectly acceptable to roll up only one sleeve. The asymmetrical effect can be very interesting visually to shake up the dress codes of the moment. Do not hesitate to do it to highlight a watch, a jewel or a tattoo.

On the other hand, rolling up your sleeves is incompatible with the most formal accessories of your outfit. If you’re going to be rolling up your sleeves for longer than just a hand wash or a one-time task, it’s best to remove your tie as well.

Similarly, never put your suit jacket or blazer over a shirt with the sleeves rolled up. The bulge will show under the jacket, and will detract from the elegance of the silhouette, as well as being uncomfortable.

What to wear a shirt with rolled up sleeves with?

Shirts with rolled up sleeves can be worn with a pair of jeans and boots. With a suit or blazer, just remember to remove the tie and cufflinks if you plan to keep the sleeves rolled up indefinitely.

Also consider opening the collar of the shirt, as there would be too much of a mismatch between the casualness of the rolled up sleeves and the formality of the closed collar, which would give a little stilted look that all men would be happy to do without.

Do not neglect the accessories for men, such as leather bracelets, rosaries, which will dress your bare wrist. Rolling up the sleeves of a shirt is to accept to draw attention to your hands. So pay special attention to them too, because they will be highlighted.

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