What to Do When Your Shirt Sleeves Are Too Long

by Jamie

No matter what the time of year, long sleeves can be a real nuisance. They get in the way of what you are doing and pick up dirt easily. This is particularly the case if your arms are shorter than the average guy. No worries – this guide on mens rolled sleeve shirts will be your saving grace!

It’s important to wear shirts that fit, so we’ve put together a handy guide with tips on how to deal with sleeves that are too long, and, how to roll up sleeves if the time comes.

Finding shirts with the right sleeve length can be extremely time-consuming and often expensive too. Unfortunately, most shirts are designed with one size in mind, and they don’t take any exceptions (i.e. any man under 5″8) into account. As a result, smaller men have to make more of an effort to look good.

So, How Long Should Sleeves Be?

If you’re unsure of how long your sleeves should be, simply follow these steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your arms by your sides.
  2. Unbutton the cuffs of your shirt.
  3. The sleeves should not come down any lower than the edge of the back of your hand – you want to be able to check your watch easily.
  4. When wearing a jacket, an inch of your cuff should be visible.
  5. If your sleeves do happen to cover your hand completely, you may need to do some adjusting. Luckily. this is much easier than you’d expect and doesn’t cost much either.

Rolling Sleeves

If your dress shirt sleeves too long one way to get the correct shirt sleeve length is to simply roll your sleeves back. This takes minimal effort and looks super casual. It’s also highly practical and you’ll find that your sleeves won’t get in the way so much – convenient if you’re eating, washing your hands or working in a hot office. When choosing a roll, bear in mind the type of shirt you are wearing and the occasion.

Top Tip: When rolling your sleeves, remember to leave a few inches of your wrist visible – this will stop your shirt from looking too big.

There are 6 main types of sleeve roll:

Simple / Classic Roll

Timeless and classy, the Classic Roll (which is also known as the Simple Roll) is ideal if you have a hectic schedule and don’t want to spend too much time folding your shirt. It also works well if you’re at work all day since it doesn’t expose too much arm. Knowing how to fold long sleeves or how to make sleeves smaller on a dress shirt is easy, so use this technique if you’re wearing an Oxford shirt or dress shirt.

  • Unbutton the cuff and remove cuff links.
  • Fold the end of the sleeve over.
  • Fold the sleeve again and repeat until the sleeve reaches your elbow. You should only need to fold your sleeve a few times.
  • Ensure that the roll is tight so that it doesn’t slip down. If it’s still a bit loose, just secure the sleeve with a safety pin so that it stays in place.

The Faux French Cuff

This type of cuff is pretty versatile and suitable for everyday wear. You could try the Faux French Cuff if you’re going down to the pub with your mates or going to a meeting. Opt for the Faux French Cuff if your sleeves are really long.

  • Roll your sleeves once
  • Button in reverse
  • Keep the roll in place with cufflinks
  • Add a jacket to complete this look

Master Sleeve / Italian Roll

This looks particularly striking when the inside of the cuff has a contrasting lining. Let enough of the inner cuff show to clearly display the lining, making it clear that you’re deliberately showing off the shirt’s accent as well as rolling your sleeves for comfort.

– Antonio Centeno, Real Men Real Style

The Master Sleeve Roll will stop your sleeves from unfolding. It will also prevent bunching, which can be quite uncomfortable and distracting, especially if you are at work or in a meeting and need to concentrate. However, this roll is probably not ideal if you have a slim fit shirt since there is less room to do the roll.

  • Firstly, ensure that the cuff is unbuttoned. Remove any ‘gauntlet’ buttons from further up the sleeve.
  • Now fold the cuff inside out and tug.
  • Fold this about halfway up and adjust ’til it’s comfy.


The AIFA Roll may be the least well-known out of the five rolls, but it screams casual and would be ideal for a stroll through the park. It follows the rule of thirds and will accentuate your biceps and triceps.

  • As with the other rolls, start off by unbuttoning the cuff.
  • Grab the edge of the cuff and roll it back over itself twice.
  • Stop before you reach your elbow (unless you’re doing something hands-on).

The High Roller

If you really want to show off your arms, try the High Roller. It’s also great for manual work and gives you a laidback look.

  • Roll the sleeve up to the elbow three or so times (depending on the length of your arm).
  • Roll again so that the sleeve sits just above your elbow.
  • Adjust to get the right length.

Sleeve Garters

If you want to ensure that your sleeve stays in place, it’s worth investing in a pair of garters. Although old-fashioned, the garter has recently come back in vogue due to style icons like David Beckham. The garter has been around for centuries and soared in popularity during the 1960s when waiters in New York wanted a way of securing their shirt sleeves.

It is now typically worn by police officers and barmen, as well as gamblers, barbershop musicians and office clerk. Wearing a shirt garters is more stylish than wearing rubber bands and will certainly make you stand out in a crowd. However, if you want to conceal your garters, slip on a jumper or V-neck sweater over your shirt.

Sleeve garters for men are usually elastic, but you can also find metal sleeve garters for men and silk sleeve garters for men ones too. They come in a range of colours and patterns. When buying garters, it’s best to look online, since they are not very common. Plenty of online shops sell garters at affordable prices.

How to wear Garters

To pull off a classic David Beckham look, team a pair of smart black trousers with a light blue shirt and finish with garters and sunglasses. We recommend Ray-Bans. You can also wear garters with a waistcoat and formal trousers if you’re heading to a 1920s themed party.

How to wear a Shirt Arm Clip

A shirt arm clip is a variation of the garter, and it’s perfect if you don’t want to go the full hog. Think tie clip for the arm or arm bling (we didn’t coin that). It’s simple roll your sleeves up taking our previous advice then insert arm clip facing out. Shirt arm clips will add a touch of elegance to any dress shirt outfit.


Although going to a tailor can be expensive, it’s a good option for when your shirt sleeves are too long. A skilled tailor understands how to get the correct dress shirt sleeve length and it will look better than any attempt made at home. Make sure you choose a tailor who has been recommended by other people – you don’t want to be ripped off or end up with your favourite shirt ruined. You should also ask to see samples of their work first. Getting your sleeves adjusted by a tailor should cost between £15 and £30. If it costs any more, you might need to try elsewhere.

Politicians are always taking off their jackets and rolling their sleeves up and pretending to help build a house somewhere. It’s that getting-things-done look.

– Glenn O’Brien, GQ Style Eye

How to Roll Your Shirt Sleeves

  • Unbutton your sleeves completely.
  • Take the cuff and fold it up once, making sure it’s even all the way around.
  • Fold the cuff up once or twice more, depending on your preference.
  • Even out around the edges.

On That Note

Shortening your shirt sleeves can be great, no matter what the season. Remember to mix it up and don’t always stick to the same styles. Rolling your sleeves is suitable for any occasion, dependent upon the type you go for. Popping to the tailor is ideal if you’re going to a formal event, while garters are good for parties and can really elevate an outfit by adding class. The length of your shirt sleeves can really have an impact on the whole outfit, so it is important that you get it right.

Feature image from Pinterest

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