How to Roll Your Shirt Sleeves: Your 60-Second Visual Guide

by Brett & Kate McKay on September 17, 2013 · 33 Comments

in Dress & Grooming, Style, Visual Guides

The Basic Roll. Best for performing physical labor. Benefits: simple and intuitive. Unbutton cuff and any gauntlet buttons further up sleeve. Flip cuff back and inside out. Fold back, using the cuff to set the width, until band of rolled cloth is just below elbow – higher when engaging in physical labor.  The casual forearm roll. Best for casual dress, thin arms, layers. Benefits: involves the least folding, easiest to unroll without wrinkles. Unbutton cuff. Undo gauntlet buttons according to preference. Flip cuff back and inside out. Fold over once, hiding cuff behind a band of sleeve fabric. Stop there and tuck corners of cuff in neatly.  The Master/Italian Roll. Best for rolling sleeves with style, showing off cuffs with inner contrasting color. Benefits: easy to adjust and unfold. Unbutton cuff. Undo gauntlet buttons according to preference. Flip cuff back and inside out. Take bottom of inside-out portion and fold it up until it traps bottom cuff. Show as much of the inside-out cuff as you desire.

Some sleeve-rolling techniques are better and more appropriate than others depending on the garment and the occasion. Here’s your 60-second illustrated guide to figuring out which roll will work best for you and how to do it.

For an in-depth guide to rolling your sleeves, check out this article.

Illustration by Ted Slampyak

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Daniel September 17, 2013 at 6:20 pm

You could also mention the accordion fold. Used for BDU/ODU sleeves.

2 George G September 17, 2013 at 6:22 pm

A very useful companion to the previous article about rolling sleeves. Hopefully I will finally be able to make a casual roll without it falling apart on me!

Great job, Brett.

3 Brian September 17, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Love the Breaking Bad reference…

4 Dylan September 17, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Roll your sleeves right and you can have a meth empire too!

5 Jordan Crowder September 17, 2013 at 7:28 pm

I am the one who rolls!

6 Daniel September 17, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Heisenberg HAHAHAHA

7 Kelly September 17, 2013 at 7:56 pm

That made me chuckle too.
Glad to know I’m doing it correctly, since my sleeves are rolled almost everyday.
Vegas summers can be a tad warm…

8 josh_k September 17, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Nice. I’ve got a couple shirts that would work well with the bottom style!

9 Austin September 17, 2013 at 8:02 pm

SAY MY NAME!

10 John September 17, 2013 at 8:35 pm

I’m calling the middle one the meth lab roll!

11 Nate September 17, 2013 at 9:13 pm

The Casual Forearm Roll is the roll that knocks.

12 Joel September 17, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Hey – you forgot the Bartender Roll in which you tuck the cuff UNDER the sleeve and continue to do so for subsequent rolls. keeps the cuffs clean.

13 Donald September 18, 2013 at 12:59 am

I’m calling the last Master of Beer Roll.

14 Stephan September 18, 2013 at 5:05 am

I swear that blackboard says Heisenberg.

15 Zach September 18, 2013 at 7:18 am

I see John already called out the center roll example’s likeness to a certain TV character, but did he notice that the guy is in fact teaching the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle?

16 Native Son September 18, 2013 at 8:17 am

OK. All the shirt cuff folds work infinitely better with at least a medium starched shirt. Helps keep things crisp.
One further note for the neophyte on neatly rolled cuffs, take the moment to ensure the cuff is evenly straight and flat after each turn. Otherwise you don’t get a nice crisp cuff, you get a roll of fabric somewhere around your elbow.

17 Tomas September 18, 2013 at 9:28 am

Zach, you are absolutely right! :D

18 Tom September 18, 2013 at 9:41 am

Rolled sleeves are sexy.

19 Dan Jones September 18, 2013 at 9:50 am

I prefer to roll inward. I feel it looks much cleaner.

20 caleb September 18, 2013 at 1:36 pm

am i the only person who thinks that the first 2 are the same thing?

21 Claire W September 18, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Ladies roll, too – especially when they have bracelets on and great forearms to show them off with…

Great article!

22 Dave September 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Love the Heisenburg easter egg. Well played boys

23 Brett September 18, 2013 at 11:28 pm

This has my vote for a video

24 Kirk September 19, 2013 at 1:00 am

I always role my sleeves up. I always wear long sleeves to work if I can. I suppose growing up in the snowy north I want to have optional warmth if I need it.

I roll my sleeves up in the casual or master way which I thought was the basic. I have never seen anyone roll up the sleeves according to whats called “the basic” in the image above.

25 Eric Petersen September 19, 2013 at 9:16 am

Oh the rolled up sleeve. The gentlemen’s weapon to casual elogance. Thanks for this, it reminds me to make sure whenever I roll up my sleeves that they are actually crisp.

26 Ted September 19, 2013 at 11:42 am

I’m confused about what you are doing when you tuck in the corners for the forearm roll- where are you tucking them?

27 Stanley September 20, 2013 at 10:14 am

Rolled up my sleeves with the Italian this morning… and I’m already getting compliments! Thanks AoM! Keep the great stuff coming!

28 Toxteth O'Grady September 20, 2013 at 4:35 pm

I went to small private school in Tennessee, where it can get awfully hot and humid, with a shirt and tie dress code. The rolled sleeve was an art I was forced to master early. After the winter though, I always loved the feeling of being able to roll up my sleeves on the first warm day of spring.

I’m a physician now and I actually roll up the sleeves of my white coat to mid-forearm.

29 Jeff Steele September 21, 2013 at 10:50 am

Ha – I also appreciate the Walter White insertion. Nice, quick primer on rolling your own, as well. Good stuff, as always.

30 Juan el de la Tienda September 26, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Casual Forearm Roll:

It looks like Walter White, and in the board it says
Heise[nberg]
Un[certainty]
Pr[inciple]

:D

31 Grizz September 30, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Look, maybe I’m just an uneducated heathen out here on the plains. But despite your guidelines, i’m gonna keep going one above the elbows for low and as high as the sleeves will fold neatly for high. Cuz if your gonna roll them, ROLL THEM. None of this half ass stuff. Do or do not.

32 Dave January 26, 2014 at 8:08 am

I just grab the cuff and peel it back; my sizeable muscles take care of the rest.

33 peter pen January 31, 2014 at 5:09 am

I’m doing under elbow on hot spring days. Above elbow – never tried it.

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