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What are the Thumb Loops at the End of Shirt Sleeves For?

We have seen thumb holes at the end of our sweatshirts, long sleeves, and jackets. Are thumb holes a function or a fashion? Here are some stands to know whether it is a function or a fashion.

A white sleeved shirt with a thumb loop that fits neatly.

Thumb loops, practical fashion, or fashion liability? An argument can be made about the strange hole cutout in a garment for helpful functionality. Does it work to keep a garment’s sleeve from riding up? Yes it does, but does that mean you should wear a thumb loop shirt?

Are thumb loops a fashion statement or a liability?

One argument for thumb loop shirts is their functionality. Do they secure your clothing, whether a shirt or sweatshirt? Indeed, they do and can’t argue with that point any more than the functionality of button flaps on long johns. I would not want to wear my long john flaps out in public since I do not want to be seen with my thumb poking out a hole in my long sleeve garment like it is free to shine in its glory! But at what cost?

Related to:  41 Different Types of Sweaters

Thumb loops as a fashion statement

A case could be for the uniqueness of a thumb loop garment with one’s thumb sticking out, but trendy in 2022, I don’t think so. I can see myself now, wearing my new thumb-hole hoodie to the most stylish eatery in town.

I am confident I will project a certain panache in my fashionable new hoodie with the cute holes cut into the sleeve, my thumb elegantly poking out. But, on the other hand, thumb loops are guaranteed admission into the most horrible fashion ideas ever, like hoofed boots.

Thumb loops as a liability

As for myself and tens of other thumb loop haters globally, this is the worst of fashion statements. Why would one wear a shirt with overly long sleeves with a hole cut into it?

Yes, the thumb hole works when the thumb is inserted at a precise angle and secures the shirt sleeve. But what a price to pay for an ugly, questionable convenience. I pull the sleeve down if needed and never had to keep it from being pulled away from a shirt, so who needs it?

Are thumb loops the trendy next thing?

Thumb loop shirts are not a new innovation, but their over-hyped marketing is. Marketers add a few additional inches to the sleeve or a shirt, hoodie, and other garments, cut a thumb hole in the extension, then announce it is the hottest thing since sliced bread.

And guess what, it worked and then you could charge more for the shirt! Brilliant, that is like taking a bucket, drilling holes in it, and marketing it as the hot-selling, new organic, and breathable bucket!     

How sanitary are thumb loop tops?

I can see it now, enjoying my delicious order of dripping, sticky buffalo wings wearing my stylish new thumb loop hoodie. Feeling trendy in my thumb loop hoodie, I delicately eat gooeylicious chicken wings, dripping sauce everywhere, having it run down my hand, and soiling my thumb loop. But no worries, when I wash my hands, I will be washing my thumb loop sleeve too, the problem solved! 

Should I greet friends wearing a thumb loop shirt? 

Well, if you have been eating the previously mentioned buffalo wings, I would not advise shaking hands unless they are wearing plastic gloves. The same goes for sinus congestion with accidental leakage caught on the hand or when I have a good barbecue.

Always consider the thumb loop shirt to be a veritable breeding ground for all types of wild cooties, dying to meet your best friends! Simultaneously, wash your hands and your shirt sounds nice, but wearing a wet thick cotton sleeve all day is not fun.

Are thumb loop shirts warmer?

Absolutely, on a 50-degree day, they will add some warmth to the hands. And since thumb loops do not add much weight to the shirt, as thumb holes weigh practically nothing, you won’t notice any additional weight.

However, I recommend on frigid days to add extra hand warmth with a nice pair of insulated gloves. Slid them easily over the thumb loops to keep your hands toasty.

Thumb loop shirts are a winner for sports enthusiasts?

Thumb loop shirts or jackets are not the most trendy innovation in sportswear, although they have been available since the ’70s. There are many schools of thought if thumb loop shirts are beneficial, especially when rock climbing.

Cyclists and hiking enthusiasts have arguments about the value of extra protection from the weather, with the hands being somewhat covered. And generally, lady sports activists accept thumb loop shirts more than men. Remember, thumb loops shirt extensions can snag on objects and get wet.

Thumb loop shirts – to be or not to be?

For some advocates, wearing a thumb loop shirt could be functional with a bit of current fashion attached. But at what cost? They may look trendy and boho chic, but I would not call them fashionably trendy.

A shirt with a thumb hole cut in an extra 3-5 inches of shirt sleeve material is not the latest haute couture. Instead, thumb loop shirts are another marketing gimmick to prey upon the unsuspecting public with the trendy new, old thumb loop shirt.


By now, you may have surmised I am not a fan of the sexy, trendy thumb loop shirt. If your hands are cold, wear fashionable gloves. When shirt sleeves ride up, pull them down, and all will be well.

You can then shake hands confidently with your friends, knowing you have clean, washed hands after eating those gooey buffalo chicken wings!