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I like short sleeves and I cannot lie...

BlueSteel

One of the Regulars
Messages
118
Hi Folks,

I'm relatively new here, but have bought a couple nice leather jackets already from awesome FL members.

I have read lots of posts with people commenting on sleeve length...mostly that certain vintage jackets and custom jackets have sleeves that posters think are too short.

At the same time, I see lots of fit pics where guys are wearing sleeves with cuffs that fall inches below the wrist.

I believe every person is entitled to an individual preference on what is comfortable for them. Mine - which I feel would be uncommon around here - is that I *hate* a leather jacket sleeve that falls below the wrist and onto my hand. I cannot stand that feeling. I also always wear a wrist watch, and I want to be able to glance at that fairly easily...not tugging up the sleeve of the jacket a few inches to check the time.

Accordingly, even though I am 6 feet tall and take a 46-48, I like a sleeve that is typically 24" or 24.5" in a broken-in leather jacket (depends on shoulder width of jacket too) so that the cuff stays up by the wrist. (I do appreciate that with new jackets, you might buy longer because arm wrinkles tend to shorten the sleeve over time.)

It is interesting to me that vintage jackets often had these shorter sleeves. Did men of similar builds have shorter arms a generation ago, or was it just the style/preference that was different from the prevailing modern view?

I have seen explanations for the shorter backs of vintage jackets being related to the higher rise/beltline of mens' pants back in the day...so when the fashion of pants changed, so did the general length of jackets. Is there some similar explanation on changing tastes in sleeve lengths?

Interested to hear your thoughts and preferences on leather jacket sleeve lengths!
 
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Guppy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,108
Location
Cleveland, OH
Motorcycle styles generally have longer sleeves, to cover the wearer's entire arm, when they are outstretched in the riding position.

Sleeves develop wrinkles with wear, and this corrugation will shorten the sleeve somewhat, and in some cases this can be significant. With thicker, stiffer leather, especially. Again, something seen more often with motorcycle jackets.

Generally the sleeve should reach the wrist bone when the wearer's arms are straight at their sides, and shouldn't ride up with the arms raised. But many jackets do ride up with arm movement, and so a little extra length can compensate for this.
 

BlueSteel

One of the Regulars
Messages
118
Generally the sleeve should reach the wrist bone when the wearer's arms are straight at their sides...

Thanks for the reply! Yes, the wrist bone or maybe 1 cm below the wrist bone (the area where a watch strap would rest) is where I want the end of the cuff to be...in my perfect world :)
 

TooManyHatsOnlyOneHead

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,159
On my dozen or so, they range from slightly above the wrist to almost the thumb knuckle. I'd say in between wrist bone and knuckle for me is the goldilocks spot if I had to pick one length. But I like having different lengths. It's part of the different looks. If they were all the same, I think it would be boring.
 

BlueSteel

One of the Regulars
Messages
118
On my dozen or so, they range from slightly above the wrist to almost the thumb knuckle. I'd say in between wrist bone and knuckle for me is the goldilocks spot if I had to pick one length. But I like having different lengths. It's part of the different looks. If they were all the same, I think it would be boring.

I'm down with different looks! But just for me, I don't like the feeling if it is down near the thumb knuckle...just had sleeves shortened on one of my older jackets that had sleeves that long. I was looking at it and thinking about why I hadn't worn it for a couple years. Then I realized I was avoiding it for the sleeve length. Put a few dollars into the alteration, and now it is back in the rotation!
 

JMax

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,708
Most folks that actually spec it down to a thumb knuckle are probably riders. Where determining sleeve length becomes more of an exercise. The pattern of the jacket, cuff seal, riding position, rise of the bars, etc., come into play. If the pattern isn’t on point for riding, then longer sleeves is the way to go. Just like Guppy said. I’ve gone that route on occasion. Those jackets usually don’t last in my stable. Too many proper riding jackets out there.
 

BlueSteel

One of the Regulars
Messages
118
Most folks that actually spec it down to a thumb knuckle are probably riders. Where determining sleeve length becomes more of an exercise. The pattern of the jacket, cuff seal, riding position, rise of the bars, etc., come into play. If the pattern isn’t on point for riding, then longer sleeves is the way to go. Just like Guppy said. I’ve gone that route on occasion. Those jackets usually don’t last in my stable. Too many proper riding jackets out there.

Yes - not being an MC rider myself, I only need to worry about style and what feels good to me in a leather jacket.
 

dudewuttheheck

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,601
First of all, "vintage" is an extremely broad term. Not all jackets and wearing/style preferences were the same during the "vintage" era (which most people would consider 1920s-1970s for leather jackets roughly.)

Also, as several members have pointed out, motorcycle jackets specifically require longer sleeves because of how a person sits while on a motorcycle. If you are looking at pictures of people wearing leather jackets from the 1920s-1940s, there will probably be less motorcycle jackets and more general sports jackets and aviator jackets. That's just a theory based on the pictures I have seen. However, I have also seen plenty of pictures of people wearing leather jackets in the 30s and 40s where the sleeves are fairly long and in some cases, too long because the jackets are off the rack.
 

Salmosalar

A-List Customer
Messages
355
I would say these days it is just a matter of personal preference and aesthetics since very few of us will wear these jackets for their original purpose anyway - riding, flying or manual labour. Also, even back in the day for these original purposes the most practical sleeve length would vary depending on use - for manual labour and operating heavy machinery you definitely don't want loose flaps of leather in the way of your hands, but for sitting on a bike some extra length may be desirable, but even then that is dependent on the riding position and/or whether gloves or gauntlets are worn.

I suspect part of the perception of “ideal” length differing between Europe and N America for biker jackets stems from the riding styles - reaching up on a chopper is going to need longer sleeves than when laying over the tank of a Bonneville. Another factor wrt perception on biker jackets relates to when they were adopted by the (mostly non-riding) punk scene back in the 70#, as that is where many of the iconic images are rooted in our minds - the Ramones, Clash, Sex Pistols are all archetypal leather jacket wearers and most of them wore the sleeves well above the wrist. I don't think anyone would say Joey Ramone or Sid Vicious didn't know how to wear their jackets! Even those who did ride in that era often wore the sleeves short - Paul Simonon of The Clash being one obvious example. So I would say you could argue any length is “right” - personally, I prefer mine to sit right on the wrist bone and they just feel wrong (to me!) if they rest on the back of the hand…
 

Bfd70

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,553
Location
Chicago
I’m with you @BlueSteel . I don’t like the cuff on my hand at all.
My test for the perfect length sleeve is to stand with my arms straight down. Then i hinge my wrist 90 degrees down. The palm shouldn’t touch the cuff at all but miss it by about 1/4”. That is admittedly some TFL OCD, but thats the way i like it.
 
Messages
15,680
I wholeheartedly agree, which is something that has considerably changed from just a few years back, when I couldn't stand having more than my fingertips sticking out of the sleeves.

I've been giving this some thought recently as I started feeling downright annoyed with sleeves that touch my hand. I'm still all for having my wrists covered and I don't feel that's going to change any time soon but I'm done with bunched up cuffs pushing against my hand for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

And that's a great observation regarding the purpose of our leather jackets. How many people actually ride in their cafe racers or D-pockets nowadays - Let alone do anything that specific styles of leather jackets were designed for? Saying 5% might even be an exaggeration. Plus, overly long sleeves have never proven practical on a motorcycle and don't mean jack when you're sitting on a sports bike, like Ducati. You want your wrists covered on a bike? Gauntlets are your only option. Anything else is a serious case of leather jacket romanticism.

I mean, think about it - Not one single professional modern racing jacket has sleeves that even touch your hands! It's all about the pattern of the jacket, which has to be perfect enough to ensure that the cuffs stay set in place no matter how far forward you have extended your arms. So, IMO, overly long sleeves on a motorcycle jacket is a telltale sign of an amateur hour.

Man's need to justify dressing well with some macho bs needs to stop as it is just a lie and I feel we'd all be a lot happier if we just quit pretending our jackets are something they're not and start wearing them like any piece of luxury we reward ourselves with.
 
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Pandemic

One Too Many
Messages
1,411
Location
In The Flat Field
I wholeheartedly agree, which is something that has considerably changed from just a few years back, when I couldn't stand having more than my fingertips sticking out of the sleeves.

I've been giving this some thought recently as I started feeling downright annoyed with sleeves that touch my hand. I'm still all for having my wrists covered and I don't feel that's going to change any time soon but I'm done with bunched up cuffs pushing against my hand for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

And that's a great observation regarding the purpose of our leather jackets. How many people actually ride in their cafe racers or D-pockets nowadays - Let alone do anything that specific styles of leather jackets were designed for? Saying 5% might even be an exaggeration. Plus, overly long sleeves have never proven practical on a motorcycle and don't mean jack when you're sitting on a sports bike, like Ducati. You want your wrists covered on a bike? Gauntlets are your only option. Anything else a serious case of leather jacket romanticism.

I mean, think about it - Not one single professional modern racing jacket has sleeves even touch your hands! It's all about the pattern of the jacket which has to be perfect enough to ensure that the cuff stays set in place no matter how far forward you have extended your arm, so long sleeves on a motorcycle jacket is a telltale sign of an amateur hour.

Man's need justify dressing well with some macho bs needs to stop as it is just a lie and I feel we'd all be a lot happier if we just quit pretending our jackets are something they're not and start wearing them like any piece of luxury we reward ourselves with.

This!
 

Carlos840

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,850
Location
London
I wholeheartedly agree, which is something that has considerably changed from just a few years back, when I couldn't stand having more than my fingertips sticking out of the sleeves.

I've been giving this some thought recently as I started feeling downright annoyed with sleeves that touch my hand. I'm still all for having my wrists covered and I don't feel that's going to change any time soon but I'm done with bunched up cuffs pushing against my hand for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

And that's a great observation regarding the purpose of our leather jackets. How many people actually ride in their cafe racers or D-pockets nowadays - Let alone do anything that specific styles of leather jackets were designed for? Saying 5% might even be an exaggeration. Plus, overly long sleeves have never proven practical on a motorcycle and don't mean jack when you're sitting on a sports bike, like Ducati. You want your wrists covered on a bike? Gauntlets are your only option. Anything else a serious case of leather jacket romanticism.

I mean, think about it - Not one single professional modern racing jacket has sleeves even touch your hands! It's all about the pattern of the jacket which has to be perfect enough to ensure that the cuff stays set in place no matter how far forward you have extended your arm, so long sleeves on a motorcycle jacket is a telltale sign of an amateur hour.

Man's need justify dressing well with some macho bs needs to stop as it is just a lie and I feel we'd all be a lot happier if we just quit pretending our jackets are something they're not and start wearing them like any piece of luxury we reward ourselves with.

This.
I never understood the "you need long sleeves to ride".
If your wear short gloves you will never be able to create a tight seal between gloves and jacket, even if the sleeves are knuckle long and you try to shove the glove inside the sleeve you will still get wind/rain coming in.

As you said the only way to get a tight seal is gauntlets going over the sleeves.
If you try to do that with knuckle long sleeves they will push on your glove and be a pain, whereas shorter sleeves will fit great inside a gauntlet and create a good seal.

All the jackets i ride in have this kind of sleeve length and i have not once felt that i neede and extra 2 or 3 inches to cover my wrists when riding.
The only decision is shorty gloves if it is warm or gauntlet gloves if it is cold or raining...

IMO any longer becomes a pain on and off the bike.

uinZoD0.jpg
 

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