How To Handle Shirt Sleeves That Are Just Too Long

Long-sleeved shirts, whether casual or dressy, are the second most annoying article of clothing for short men (the first, of course, being pants). It's not too hard to find a long sleeve shirt that fits in the chest, and it's even pretty easy to find ones that are the right length. But finding a long-sleeved shirt with short enough arms is almost always a problem for smaller guys.

Unless you have the “gorilla” body type, you probably have to deal with unsightly bunching of the sleeves. I feel your pain. This really ruins an otherwise great look.

Now the best solution to this problem is to go custom. I recommend Blank Label for reasonably priced custom made shirts. They're more expensive than an off-the-rack shirt at, say, J.Crew, but it's worth the extra $20 for a shirt that literally fits perfectly. Do yourself a favor and check out their website.

If custom is too expensive or you need an immediate solution, fear not. There are a few things you can do to make those long sleeves look good. In no particular order, here are three:

1. Roll ‘Em Up

This one is obvious. You can roll your long sleeves up for a more casual look. This works with tucked or untucked shirts, but you have to do it right. Let's look at the different types of rolls, the names of which I completely made up just now:

  • The One and a Half – This is where you unbutton your cuff and roll it twice. I call it the one and a half because you can get a nice tight fit if you don't quite finish the second roll. Also, if your cuff has two buttons, leave the second one buttoned.
  • The Standard Roll – This requires you to unbutton both buttons and roll your sleeve three times. Make sure to keep it nice and tight by ensuring the cuff is folded completely under on the second roll.
  • The Pull Up – The best way to pull this off is to start with the one and a half roll, then pull the whole sleeve up above your elbow. This is definitely a unique look, so use it sparingly.
2. The Faux French Cuff

If your sleeves are really long. Like several inches past your wrist. You simply roll your sleeves once, then button them in reverse (or inverted) to create a French cuff look. I wouldn't do this without a jacket, as it's a somewhat obvious trick.

3. Sleeve Garters
Sleeve Garters

Courtesy of

Sleeve garters are an old school accessory that you really don't see much anymore. That said, old-timey accessories always seem to come back into style eventually.

Just look at the resurgence of suspenders, bow ties and fedoras. You could definitely set yourself apart with a pair of sleeve garters.

Bonus Tip: During the cooler months, you can wear a v-neck sweater over your long-sleeved shirts. This looks great with or without a tie, it eliminates the need for a jacket, and it totally covers up any excess bunching of fabric in the arms or midsection.

So, whether or not you have the budget (and time) to go custom, there are options for dealing with long sleeves. Eventually, however, you'll need to get some shirts made or altered, especially if you have to dress up for work.

After all, there are times when you just can't get away with the casual look that rolling up your sleeves inevitably produces.


Got any other tricks up your sleeve (pun intended)? Share the knowledge by leaving a comment!

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