Here’s how and when men should roll up their shirtsleeves

Obama shirstleevesPresident Obama, doing it wrong.Getty/Kevin Winter

Look, we get it.

It’s officially warm, and your arms are suffocating under the sleeves of the long shirt you’re required to wear, either to work or out on the town.

“I can’t wait to roll these babies up at the first available opportunity,” you mutter under your breath. Completely understandable.

But wait. First let us make sure the situation is appropriate.


Rolling your sleeves is acceptable if you are:

  • About to do some “manual labor” (or the dishes).
  • A guest at a wedding nearing the end of the festivities.
  • A politician tying to get across the fact that you are a “relatable everyman” that can “get things done.”

If any of these are the case, go right ahead and roll up your sleeves. These are the occasions where sleeve-rolling is most acceptable and indeed even encouraged.

But if you’re wearing a long-sleeve shirt, you’re probably wearing it for a reason. Maybe you’re at a dinner with family, or it’s another special occasion. That is where you should not roll your sleeves whatsoever. Otherwise, what would be the point of making the effort in the first place?

In the middle, there’s a gray area. Use your best judgment here, while remembering that rolling your sleeves up is an extremely casual look.


There’s a trick to rolling up your sleeves, however. Most men just fold their cuffs over a couple of times until the desired length is achieved.

There are a few problems with that. It both looks sloppy and has a tendency to come undone at inopportune times. It’ll also rest at a weird place on your elbow. Weird. Bad form.

There’s a better way.

Instead, unbutton your sleeve and turn it inside out up your arm. Then resume folding it over itself a couple times, starting from the bottom. Stop when you reach the cuff of the shirt. Voilà. It won’t come undone, and it’ll hit at the right place for full movement.

Man buttons dress shirt sleeveShutterstock

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