Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Surgeon's Cuffs

Got me a British patch-pocket country suit on eBay for a good price.  Plenty of posts to come, but for now, surgeon's cuffs, a/k/a working sleeve buttonholes.  Called surgeon's cuffs because a surgeon could use them to unfasten his suit jacket sleeves and roll them up, probably to conduct surgery without bebloodying his suit.  Also used by foppish dandies: unbutton a button or two on your sleeve for instant sprezzatura.

One issue with buying suits secondhand--if they have surgeon's cuffs, be careful.  On a standard suit jacket, the buttons are just sewn onto the fabric.  Thus, your tailor can shorten your sleeve easily by cutting material from the sleevehole and moving the buttons up the sleeve toward your shoulder a bit.  Not so with surgeon's cuffs, or at least there's less room for error.  If you need to shorten the sleeves more than the amount of fabric past the lowest working buttonhole, your tailor will have to remove material from the armhole (where the sleeve meets the shoulder), and this is 1) expensive and/or 2) dangerous for the overall fit of the coat.

Oh my god, I just learned that "sprezzatura" is a coinage by none other than Baldassare Castiglione, author of The Book of the Courtier!  I totally read that book in my Chivalry, Honor, and Courtesy class back in college.  Apparently, this whole "style blogging" thing was meant to be, even back when my wardrobe comprised monocolor t-shirts, pleated khaki shorts, and retired running shoes.

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