How to Roll Shirt Sleeves

November 26th, 2013

We received three separate inquiries last week from guys who developed holes at the elbows of their dress shirts. So I thought we should address this common issue that affects a lot of guys in the business world.

shirt 16 blow out edit

Why does this happen? 

The elbow is a primary tension point on a shirt. The fabric can become weak in this area, especially if you’re sitting at a computer for hours at a time. The problem can be more severe for larger guys, guys with sharp elbows, or guys who wear their shirts very slim. In some cases elbows can blow-out on brand new shirts after only a few wears.

There is a simple solution to this problem. When sitting at a desk for long periods of time (using a keyboard, answering phones, etc.) roll your sleeves up past the elbows. This will eliminate any strain on that area of the shirt.

How do I stop it from happening?

Two ways I recommend rolling sleeves for a day at the desk:

1. Flip & Pull


i. Flip the cuff neatly

ii. Flip the cuff neatly again

iii. Slide the double-folded cuff over the elbow

iv. Continue taking over the world

2. Invert & Tuck


i. Grab the sleeve by the edge of the cuff

ii. Pull the edge up toward the shoulder, inverting the sleeve above the elbow

iii. Begin tucking the inverted sleeve at the lower bicep level

iv. Adjust until the cuff is cleanly tucked, with the edge just peeking out so you can grab it later

The “invert & tuck” is my preferred method of rolling sleeves for two reasons. 1) I like the look of the sleeves pulled high up, giving a small preview of the gun show. 2) It’s very quick to roll them, and even quicker to pull them down (just pull on the edge of the cuff peeking out). The disadvantage of this roll is that it will wrinkle the sleeve more than flipping the cuff, but that doesn’t bother me. Elbow creases are only natural.


So what about my old shirts – is there a way to fix them?

You should be able to have the holes sutured by your local tailor/seamstress with minimal scarring (who looks closely at your elbows anyway?). If someone does ask, just have a cool story ready.

Sometimes the tear needs a little additional fabric to be fixed properly. A crafty client of mine once had his tailor shorten his blown-out shirts by a 1/2″ or so (he tucks them in anyway) and use the cut-off fabric to patch the holes. I think he also removed the pocket on a shirt and used that fabric for a small patch.



Hope this helps fellas!

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier


Photography by Alex Crawford