Definition: What are Surgeon Cuffs?

You may or may not have heard the term before, and you might just have a light bulb moment!

A surgeon cuff is something you have quite likely seen before. If you have ever had a jacket or suit made for you, you have probably even owned surgeon cuffs before.

So what is it?

In this context, the term ‘cuff’ is referring to the cuff of a tailored jacket. Many modern ready-to-wear jackets are made (and have been for at least a couple of decades) with non-working buttonholes; the buttons are retained as a design element and nothing more.

However, bespoke jackets usually have cuffs with working buttonholes, and the idea of usable buttonholes is catching on in ready-to-wear jackets again.

Is there a specific term for working buttonholes?

There sure is.

Surgeon cuff!

What is the history behind surgeon cuffs?

There are a few stories behind the origin, however as the name denotes the surgeon cuff was invented for surgeons.

One article says that surgeon cuffs were invented for upper class English surgeons who felt that removing their tailored jackets to work would make them look too much like tradespeople; a cardinal sin in the classist culture that was historical England.

Another says that it was a military invention for field surgeons, which is also quite plausible given how much of civilian tailoring has been derived from military uniform throughout history.

Whatever the origins, it is an interesting term to know. It is also something to look out for when looking for a good quality suit or jacket!

That’s all for today!

Thanks for reading. See you next time!

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With content features ranging from appearances on popular menswear hubs (The Rake, StyleForum, Put This On) to French perfume newsletters and university course readings, Sam is a writer, designer and enthusiast in the fields of menswear and fragrance.

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