Keep your eyes open for the October issue of The Blue & White, which, after a delay from the printers, has finally arrived to campus! In the meantime, Bwog will honor our heritage/amorous affair with our mother magazine by posting highlights of the upcoming issue online. Among the treats to look forward to: Knickerbocker Motorsports: a surprisingly gripping history, an examination of Columbia’s updated sexual assault policy, and the festive search for magic on campus. This month, man about town and contributor Eric Wohlstadter bares his ankles … and his soul (on the issue of cuffing your pants).

Check the Cuff, Respect the Cuff

Illustration by Emily Lazerwitz

Admit it: you’re a cuff addict. You’ve rolled so many times that your khakis have a permanent crease. Your skinny jeans are just shooting up. And your corduroys? They’ve gotten so high your whole calf is visible.  Don’t fool yourself.  Those argyle socks of yours do nothing to cover your habit. You have a problem.But so does all America. In fact, this trend seems to have a stranglehold on male pant culture. The cuff has enjoyed a steady rise since it first popped up in 2009, when designers such as Tom Ford and Domenico Vacca introduced the look in their fall and spring collections. But the style was actually fabricated long before then.

Scholars differ in opinion as to the originator of the cuffed pant.  Most point to the British King Edward VII — apologies to all you Huck Finn fashionistas — who rolled his trousers to keep them out of the mud while hunting. The trend caught on in England in the 1890s, but didn’t turn up in America until the Jazz Age. Cuffing soon fell out of style though, due to fabric rationing during the Great Depression. After that, the cuff enjoyed an occasional lift thanks to a few daring mid-century icons (think Marlon Brando in motorcycle boots), but never more than that.

Now, they’re back and trendier than ever. And this time, it’s not just the occasional iron that’s giving these cuffs a lift.  Rather, the trend seems firmly safety-pinned in place. Here’s why:

For one thing, the cuff is incredibly versatile. Initially thought to carry certain inherent faux pas, modern culture has demonstrated that nearly any material can be cuffed, be it dressy trousers or skinny jeans (though we’re still waiting for the verdict on wool). Even cuffed shorts seem to be acceptable.

Similarly, the cuff fits in to just about every style and subculture. Hipster? You’ve probably been rolling more cuffs than cigarettes. Preppy? Your thigh to fabric ratio has surely skyrocketed.  Outdoorsy, hiking-type person wearing a tank-top, cargo shorts, and boots? Roll those khaki shorts!

On top of that, it’s practical. Not only is cuffing a cheap solution to overlong pants, it’s also a clever way of disguising pants that are too short.  Furthermore, the cuff can serve a multitude of other purposes. Personally, I find my cuffs to be great storage spaces for loose change and other miscellaneous items. I’ve also known them to be used as portable ashtrays–but stick with dark material here, like denim. In the heat of the summer, use them as a cooling mechanism; roll up to release body heat, down to conserve on a chill evening. Use them to show off your sophisticated taste in socks or to frame your particularly well-sculpted calves. Cuff only your right leg to keep the bike grease off your pants. The list is endless.

That said, there are several don’ts. When cuffing shorts, make sure to have a sufficiently tanned thigh. Also, don’t go overboard. Nobody wants a peek at your lower buttocks. For God’s sake, avoid sloppy, uneven lengths. Work for a crisp roll. Steer clear of tube-socks. And don’t cuff if peg-legged.

Finally, make an honest assessment of whether cuffing is right for you. Don’t take the plunge just because your friends have—this is how even the most brilliant fashion moves become hackneyed over time. But if Achilles himself would advise you to shield your tendon, give it a try.