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Should I Cuff My Jeans? If So, How Many Rolls is Best?

Some jeans are longer than your desired length. What we do is to turn up the bits of fabric at the end. Here are some tips on how you can turn up or roll the extra length of your jeans.

A wardrobe of different jeans hanged

Skinny jeans came back in style around 2010, and I think they look better without the hems bunched up at the ankle. As far as how many rolls you should make, that depends. In some cases, cutting instead of cuffing would be the better choice but only if you do it right.

Some Symmetry Challenges

Amy Bobinger calls jeans “durable, versatile and the perfect wardrobe staple.”

You can’t always wear denim pants wherever and whenever you want, however. In the picture above, which set of jean rolls do you think looks best?

In my opinion, symmetry matters when cuffing up (a.k.a. rolling up) your jeans. I’d sometimes redo my rolls if I didn’t think they looked even. One advantage of rolling instead of cutting the denim is rolling allows you to undo your mistakes more easily.  

Once you use the scissors, you can’t go back. You might as well turn them into shorts if you accidentally cut one leg too low or too high. Some exceptions may apply, such as if you intentionally make the legs uneven for a character costume. Even then, that’s stretching it.

If you must cut or cuff your jeans, make sure they look even. I wouldn’t recommend an asymmetric look in this case. After all, they’re pants, not a dress. However, one exception does exist, and that’s usually with creating the cropped look.

The Cropped Look

Cropped female jeans

The cropped look does happen whether you cut or cuff your jeans but cutting without cuffing sometimes provides a trendier appeal. In some cases, you can even cut off above the point where your pants flare out to remove the massive extra “bell-shaped” or boot-cut fabric. In addition, you can cut the front about a half inch shorter than the back to create a less mundane fashion statement.

Cutting before you cuff makes it easier for you to make tight rolls, and it helps you keep the rolled material in place. What’s more, longer cut-offs can make “mom jeans” look more fashionable. They also might complete a band t-shirt ensemble, especially if performing rock music onstage.

If you want to turn your jeans into shorts instead of cropped jeans, you can just cut them a little higher to fit above or a little below your knees.

Frays or No Frays?

Liz Corsillo of GQ writes, “Try as you might, unless you are a denim fit model, your jeans won’t always be the right length when you walk away with them in hand.”

Then, Liz suggests various ways to cut or cuff your pans. One of them involves moderate fraying, which I sometimes like. Frays might not pass the “Casual Friday” dress codes in some office settings.

However, having strings hang down from cut jeans creates a fringed style that you could wear with think-heeled work boots if a man.

For women, frayed jeans typically look awesome with stiletto heels or strapped sandals. However, the frays usually look best if they reach where your ankle and your foot meet, even if you do crop your jeans. This applies to both men and women, and you can accent them with a fitted leather jacket (and stay warm in the process) regardless of gender.

The 1980s Pant Fold

A tight fold around ankle

Sarah (Aguirre) Graham said, “In Junior High, denim was king.”

I remember those days, and I went to school once wearing a pair of my mom’s 1970s wide-legged pants. We wouldn’t be caught dead wearing anything but pants tight around our ankles like the way Sarah describes. Therefore, I folded up the sides of my jeans as tight as I could and rolled them up a couple of times.

I had no idea anyone else did this when I first started to do it, but I felt less self-conscious about this fashion decision when I saw other people tight-fold and roll their denim. A few years later, I didn’t believe my high-school teacher when she said bell-bottoms would come back in style, and back in style those bells they did in the early 2000s.

As of 2021, however, the 1980s jean look seems to be “in” again. Thus, the “fold and roll” will benefit you, but you have to roll the sides of your pants up high enough to create a less “sloppy” appearance.

Rolling your wide-leg jeans up tight enough sometimes seems impossible unless you alter them with a few sewing stitches or pin the sides in position. If you can stop the folds from coming undone throughout the day, folding before rolling up your jean cuffs provides you with style without buying new jeans.

Decorated Hems With One Roll Only

In some cases, you’d be better off only folding up the bottoms of your jeans once. Usually, this keeps the ready-made bottom seam intact, which acts like a decorative border. You can add to it using stick-on gems, sew-on sequins or other craft decorations to enhance your cuffing artwork.

In this case, you will want to make one-inch instead of standard half-inch folds normally used. Decorated jeans usually look better when folded up to at least a couple of inches above the ankle. To avoid excess cuffing that would look too messy, you could cut your hems before you roll them up to the appropriate height.

When And How Much to Cuff or Cut

Whether you cut or cuff, the bottom jean hem should land about quarter to half-inch above your ankle unless cropping. This will leave room for fraying if you choose. For cuffing, I recommend no more than two half-inch rolls.