The Compass  /  JacketsStyleSuits  /  How Long Should My Suit Jacket Sleeves Be?

How Long Should My Suit Jacket Sleeves Be?

Man sitting in front of piano wearing a blue suit with text reading How Long Should My Suit Jacket Sleeves Be?

Our Guide To Mastering Your Suit Jacket Sleeve Length


How long should my suit jacket sleeves be? And how much shirt cuff should I be showing? I’ve asked around and heard everything from no cuff showing to 1 inch of cuff showing.  – Terrance M.


Your suit jacket/blazer sleeve should end right above the top of your wrist bone (or the hinge of your wrist).

However, in order to show the proper amount of dress shirt cuff based on the correct suit jacket sleeve length, your shirt sleeve length must obviously fit correctly. A properly fitting shirt sleeve should end at the base of your hand. Once these two are properly fitted, you’ll notice that naturally, some shirt sleeve cuff will show. The general rule of thumb is that you want to show 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch of shirt cuff, so feel free to adjust your garments to achieve your desired look.

Why Do Your Suit Sleeves Matter Do Much?

Showing no sleeve may have the visual effect of making your jacket sleeves look too long on you while showing too much cuff may have the visual effect your jacket sleeves are comically too short on you.

Both will betray the powerful effect of the superb fit you’re going for.

A proper relationship between jacket sleeve length and shirt sleeve length suggests a man who is in control of his appearance and knows that a pleasing aesthetic is comprised of these “minor” details.  So while sartorial matters such as these may seem insignificant, it is the perfection of these details that will enhance your image immediately. See below for visual examples:

man wearing a brown suit with jacket sleeve too short
man wearing a brown suit with jacket sleeve too long
man wearing a brown suit with jacket sleeve at the right length

A Note About Suit Sleeves And Watches

Regardless of how your suit sleeves look with your dress shirt, there is still the question of how to bring a watch into the mix, especially if you rock wrist bling that is larger than life. If you wear a watch, especially a larger-faced watch,  make sure you leave enough space under your cuff to accommodate the typical watch you would wear with that shirt. A shirt cuff should be able to go over and cover some of your watch when your arms are relaxed at your sides.

Have more questions about suit jacket sleeve length or suit styling? Leave a comment below or send us your questions at concierge@blacklapel.com!

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39 thoughts on “How Long Should My Suit Jacket Sleeves Be?”


    Aw, this was a really nice post. In thought I would like to put in writing like this additionally ?taking time and actual effort to make an excellent article?but what can I say?I procrastinate alot and certainly not appear to get one thing done.

  2. Hunter says:

    Epic article…. I just got a new suit and want to do it right… it’s sitting about right but when I raise my arms it moves up quite a bit… it has me wondering if I have the right size. Do you have a suggestion for how far up your arm when you put your arms in front of you, it should go? Would hate to look good, only for it all to go wrong during a hand-shake.


    1. Black Lapel says:

      This is normal. When you’re standing with your arms at your sides, your suit jacket should sit just above your wrist bone. If it does, then you don’t need to worry about how much the suit jacket moves up your arms when you lift them up. You don’t want to measure this distance as it’s not the proper starting point. As long as you make sure your suit jacket sleeves are just right when your arms are by your side, you won’t need to worry about making any fashion mistakes!

  3. Neha says:

    Hi your article is very helpful. Although I’d like to know the right shirt sleeve and jacket length when wearing a watch and how it sits. Could you illustrate with a picture? Thank you X

    1. Black Lapel says:

      The length of your shirt or jacket sleeves should be the same whether you’re wearing a watch or not, Neha, so the photos above are how they should look. What may be tripping you up is not the length, but the circumference of the shirt cuff. If your shirt’s cuffs are too narrow to accommodate a watch one of two things is happening, either:

      1. Your watch is too large and, therefore, inappropriate for wearing with a dress shirt and jacket, or
      2. Your shirt cuff is too small.

      This is one thing we consider when making custom shirts for Black Lapel customers. Some men like a little extra room in the cuff of their watch side wrist. The editor of The Compass, for example, does this, adding 0.5″ to his left cuff on all of his shirts. That way the shirt always slides comfortably over even the biggest watch face in his collection. Yet another fit problem solved by getting shirts custom made.

  4. Greg says:

    Suit jackets are not designed to fit correctly generally….thats why I see a 5-10 guy in a long and a 6-5 guy in a regaular…reason the larger the jacket…the longer they make the sleeves…. a 40 reg is 33.5 and a 40 long is only like 34.5 sleeve…pretty normal…but a 48 long is like a 37…48 reg is a 36…i imagine anybody under 6-2 which is 90 percent of the population would need their sleeves altered if u wear a jacket 46 or 48 and larger…which a large number do…if u buy a short the sleeves or jacket length most likely wont fit either…..they should have a set arm length for short reg long and extra long….that is the same no matter what the size of the jacket…im 6-2.5 wit a 36 sleeve… a 44 long would fit great in the sleeves where as a if I went up 2 sizes to a 48 I would need a 48 reg…shirts are the same to…large or xl…i need a tall…if I was to wear a 2x or 3x I be in a regulaur….its the same for short and reg sizes also…going up or down 2 sizes should not throw u into a differnt category….in length…and 99% of ppl whereing jackets above a 50 do not have arms over a 37 if u buy short the jacket won’t be long enough …so it’s set up to be tailored …instead of jackets to fit customers off the rack… extra long jackets are comedically long…a 50 and up is a 39- 40 sleeve really?….should be simple..29-30 extra short.31-32 short.33-34- reg 35-36 long 37-38 extra long…and keep it like that on all sized jackets…..if ur below or above those sizes u will need everything custom made clearly other then ur jacket…for being extremely short or tall….but having ur jacket altered is common…ur not abnormal…they only cater and size 38-42 correctly in length… that’s about it….above that ur gonna need a tailor most likely…no matter what ur size…

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Wow, you make a strong case for men getting all their clothes custom made by Black Lapel.

  5. Paul Barrett says:

    Is there any reason other than sartorial that we show our shirt cuff when wearing a double cuff shirt ?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Nope, this is a matter of proportion and aesthetics. But that doesn’t make it any less important to get it right.

      It’s like asking if the colorful plumage of a male bird serves any purpose. It does. Female birds choose mates, in part, based on aesthetics. As much as we humans are loathe to admit it, we follow the same rules of nature. So our advice is to get your proportions right and dress your best if only to attract a mate.

      1. L. M. B. says:

        As well, consider the repetition of patterns and colors in nature: They are aesthetically pleasing, as is a bit of shirt at the cuff. On a more practical note, if the jacket is longer than the cuff of the shirt, it can be uncomfortable, leading to one tugging the shirt out from under.

  6. Steve Baker says:

    Is it possible to have an off the shelf suit altered in sleeve length from the shoulder rather than the cuff ?…Ive got a couple of really nice suits that are perfect in the body but the sleeves are a couple of centimetres too long..ive obviously got shorter than average arms !

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Yes, a good tailor should be able to alter sleeves from the shoulder. In fact, that’s one of the ways we suggested you check out a tailor’s skills in our article about Getting the Most Out of Your Tailor Shop.

      And for your next suit, if you want to skip the hassle, have one made to measure by Black Lapel and it’ll fit your arms perfectly.

  7. Shaken says:

    BL, my suit had been altered to show 1.5cm of cuff when I’m wearing a single cuffed shirt, but when I put on the double-cuffed shirt (with the same shirt measurements) it shows 2cm of cuff. Is this a common problem when switch from single to double barrel cuffs?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Oh man, Shaken. If we had a nickel for every guy who’s told us about this problem…we’d be broke. The difference of a half a centimeter in your shirt cuffs showing is nothing to worry about. The reason for it is quite simple, the thicker french cuff is just causing your jacket cuff to come to rest a half centimeter higher.

      A half centimeter is barely visible to anyone. Leave it be and nobody will notice, but spend all day fiddling with your sleeves to try to “fix” it and people will start to wonder “What’s wrong with that guy’s sleeve?” And that’s the last thing you want. Remember when it comes to style self-conscious = bad, self-confident = good.

  8. William Earl Glisson says:

    Do you have samples in a sport jacket A dazzling black and white with a dot of red and/gold
    Dot. president Clinton had worn that was dazzlincs

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’re quite confused about what you’re asking here and by how you phrased everything. Could you please elaborate?

  9. EJ says:

    Hello ~ My question is for Black Lapel. I am a woman and I have taken a couple of my blazers to a tailor for alterations. Firstly, the sleeves of the blazers touched almost the center of the palms of my hands. Once they were altered, they touch the beginning of my palms. I am going to take the blazers back but does your technique above apply for women’s lengths as well?

    Thanks, EJ

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Proportion on women’s clothes is different than men’s clothes because women’s bodies are different. Still, sleeve length is pretty universal. It sounds like you went from way too long, to slightly long sleeves on your jackets. You can go back to your tailor for another round, but you’re probably getting close to the limits of how much you can tailor those jackets. So you might just have to give up on altering the jackets any more. Sorry to be the bearers of bad news, but we wouldn’t want you dumping money into a garment that will never fit you the way you want.

      As always, though, don’t rely solely on the advice of us, people who haven’t seen the garment on you and focus on menswear. Talk through your options with a tailor you trust can do the work (or will tell you if he/she can’t) and base your decision on that.

  10. John says:

    The sleeve might be right, but the jacket length it too short (LOL)

    1. Black Lapel says:

      True if you’re going by the old rule of thumb that bases jacket length on your arm length. However, that rule is not a good one to follow. Arm length and torso length are not always the same. Proportion dictates that your jacket should fit the length of your body over your arms.

      For an extreme example, imagine suiting up the NBA’s Rajon Rondo. He is 6’1″ but his wingspan (that is, the distance between the tips of his fingers when he holds his arms out horizontally) is 6’9″. In other words, dude’s arms are crazy long for his body. Should follow the old jacket length should reach your cupped hands rule? Of course not. His jackets would stretch almost to his knees and he’d look like a buffoon. The point with all of this is that getting proportion right depends on the body you’re dressing. That’s why we make clothes to measure. Everybody’s different and from these cropped photos there’s not enough information to tell if the jacket length is appropriate.

  11. Tom says:

    easy to say, what about those with unequal length arms?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      As the maker of made-to-measure suits and blazers we face this question a lot, Tom. Our solution is simple, we adjust your jacket sleeves to your arms. That’s something that isn’t possible in an off-the-rack suit, but it’s just one of many ways we customize your suit to fit you flawlessly.

      If you want to join the thousands of guys with unique body types getting suits that fits them flawlessly, we’ve got you covered.

  12. Dejan says:

    And what if I have to make my sleeves shorter. Is there any “safe” way to tailor this? There is a space (I believe I need them 1 cm shorter), but it seems that in that case position of the sleeves butons will not be appropriate…

    1. Black Lapel says:

      If you’re looking to shorten the sleeves on a jacket without moving the edge of the cuffs too close to the buttons, you may be out of luck. Depending on how much you need to shorten it and the tailor, you may be able to get a tailor to shorten the jacket sleeve from the top of the sleeve at the shoulder.

      Of course, you could just order a jacket that’s made to your precise measurement from Black Lapel. Just sayin’.

  13. Greg says:

    How much should the sleeve pull up if you’re stretching and moving? My jacket falls properly when I’m relaxed but it hikes up a lot with movement

    1. Black Lapel says:

      There is a finite amount of fabric in the jacket, so it will move when you move. If it fits properly when standing still, our advice would be not to mess with it, just adjust the sleeves if they get out of place. If you’re doing something that requires a lot of movement in a suit (i.e. getting down on the dance floor at a wedding, wildly gesticulating through a PowerPoint presentation or competing in a lunchtime, intra-office, Greco-Roman wrestling tournament), then we suggest taking off the jacket.

  14. Randy says:

    This is so helpful. Due to financial problem, I borrowed a suit jacket from a friend to be used in my friend’s wedding. Just noticed that the sleeve is too short for my shirt sleeve. I tried other shirt sleeves but it still doesn’t look proportion to the suit jacket sleeve. I agree with you. I imagined myself in the mirror that showing the maximum of 1/2 inch of shirt cuff looks good to me. I must look for a suit jacket again. Thanks for this!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Glad you found it helpful, Randy! It’s the small details–sometimes as small as a quarter-to-half inch–that can make all the difference in a look.

  15. Mauro says:

    I just bought a designer jacket (on sale, the only size) thinking I’d probably have to return it ‘cos the sleeve length may be short… it’s just spot on! I’m so glad I came across to your advice. Thank you!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Glad this helped Mauro! If you come across this issue again in the future, remember that you can get your sleeve length altered by a local tailor by 0.25″ to 0.50″ longer or shorter without having a significant impact on the placement of the sleeve buttons.

  16. Linda says:

    Wow, thanks for the information. I usually alter women’s clothing and had a young man ask me to shorten his suit jacket sleeves. I was not sure of the proper length. Your information and pictures were great–just what he said he had learned at fraternity meetings.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Glad we could help a sister out! 🙂

  17. geri lott says:

    ok, so what about the womens dress coat with a dress.? i have a dress, knee length, and a jacket that matches also knee length, would it look ok, if i had my matching jacket shortened? a couple of inches above my dress length?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hi Geri! We wish we were qualified to answer this! As our focus is on menswear, we’d be straight-up doing guesswork here. 😉 Check out newyorkimageconsultants.com or Alice Sydow at http://www.ivegotyourstyle.com who should be able to give you a much better answer than our stylists!

  18. Jeffery Roznowski says:

    I have a leather jacket and the sleeves are to long were should they be trim to. thank you so much

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Jeff, if you’re asking about the appropriate sleeve length for a typical jacket, we recommend having it end at the same place as where you would end the sleeves on a dress shirt. You can go a little longer by about 1/2″ and it should still look fine. A biker jacket on the other hand can have slightly longer sleeves (by 1/2″ to a full 1″) since you’ll be reaching for those handle bars most of the time. Hope that helps!

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