The origins of pants cuffs

I told some friends at lunch today that I read that pants cuffs were first invented to be used like a portable ashtray for men and their cigars.

I was 100% positive that I read that in one of the SD books, but when I searched the archive, nothing came up.

Can anyone find something on this and back me up?
My co-workers think I make stuff up.


You made it up.

Seriously, think about it, why would a man dump cigar ashes on his trousers? S&M clothiers maybe…

Trouser cuffs, or “turn-ups” became a sporty-looking affectation around the late 1800’s in England, I’m going by memory here. My reference books are home and I am not.

I will get back to you tomorrow as I will try to link cuffs to the fierce struggle to determine whether the trouser crease went from front to back or side to side. Not the most exciting struggle in human history but not the least exciting.

until tomorrow…

Actually, my husband uses his cuffs for an ashtray. Maybe I said that before and that’s where you heard it. I know…it sucks, but he doesn’t like to toss the butts around, so he tucks them into his cuffs.

[WAG]A lot of fashion features are the result of making decorative something that once had utility. There was a SD article on why men’s suit coats have buttons on the cuffs, that made the whole thing sound rather puzzling. But at one time, it seems certain that the buttons were needed to close the cuff against the elements. We have buttons on shirt cuffs and no one wonders about that. So styles changed, and the buttons were kept around for nostalgic purposes.

Today, have you seen that new style for women’s jeans where they bleach parts of the jeans? It would be incomprehensible why anyone would do that unless you had seen real jeans back in the 60’s that had a few years of wear on them. People are looking for instant gratification without paying their dues.

Anyway, my guess here would be that the pressed cuff is an echo of a time when pant legs were loosely rolled up to prevent an unfinished edge from unraveling.[/WAG]

Building on CookingWithGas:

Cattlemen in the old West would often turn their pants cuffs up to hold small items, like nails or staples. That would keep the supplies close at hand while riding the range.

Not sure that this ever went any further into the fashion world. Not much else that cowboys wore ever did, darn it.

Just an idea here, but I’d think cuffs on pants were common way before the 1800’s.

Cloth was an expensive commodity way back in the Middle Ages, and hand-me-down clothing was the norm, even for the highest classes.

Cuffs are a handy way of adjusting pants to the height of the wearer, without permanently removing the excess cloth. You just roll up several layers of cloth into the cuff, and then stitch it there. A year or so later, when the pants have passed on to the next wearer, the cuffs can be unrolled as needed to adjust to the new wearers’ height. This was common in Minnesota in the 1960’s, by middle class families. I’d surely think that poor folks of the Middle Ages would have been just as economical!

Before the 1800’s - yes, but not way before, and certainly not in the Middle Ages when the basic clothing style was the tunic (with or without hose or leg wrapping).

From this site

spell-checking apparently turned off at that location

At that time the <oxymoron>“fashion conscious”</oxymoron> wore knee breeches. Breeches had to be tailored to the wearer, but trousers could be made in a standard size (or two) and adjusted to the user using a draw-string waist (or a belt) and rolling up the cuffs to suit.

We must remember that trousers (with or without turn-ups or cuffs) as a male garment is specific to European culture. In the East, both men and women have worn trousers for a looong time.

I have no idea how reliable that guy from “The Rest of Story” (dangit; I know his name) on the radio is, but the Duke of Windsor was just recently credit with their invention, at least for men’s clothes. Apparently had had abdicated (or never took) the throne to be a men’s fashion designer! It was also pointed out that despite the name he didn’t invent the Windsor knot.

Damn; just remembered: Paul Harvey.

I heard this one on the radio a few days ago…

and now you know… the resssst of the ssssstory