Fashion faux pas: Are trouser turn-ups ever alright for men to wear?

Following Zinedine Zidane’s recent fashion faux pas when he turned up to a press conference wearing skinny jeans with an oversized turn-up, we take a look at trouser hems

Zinedine Zidane at a press conference on March 11, sporting trouser turn-ups that turned a lot of heads. Reuters 
Zinedine Zidane at a press conference on March 11, sporting trouser turn-ups that turned a lot of heads. Reuters 

As European men switched from wearing breeches to long trousers in the 19th century, a new problem reared its head: how to keep the trouser hem dry when it rained. Most men simply lifted their trousers higher to keep them from being sullied, but Britain’s King Edward VII, some time during the 1890s, had his hems folded over to shorten them and thus keep them dry. Shaped to be shorter at the back but longer at the front, the trouser held its shape and kept the fabric out of the mire.

Keen to mimic their ruler, many men followed his lead, so much so that by the 1920s and 1930s, cuffs were the epitome of style. So widespread were trouser cuffs, that in 1931 Louis Freeman filed a patent for small holes cut into the inside of the hem, to let any collected detritus fall out. By the 1950s, and the adoption of denim as the wardrobe of youth, a rash of films appeared starring angsty young men in jeans with turn-ups – think Marlon Brando in The Wild One (1953) or Elvis Presley in King Creole (1958), and even Grease, which though made in 1978, was set in the 1950s, and had the T-Birds wearing jeans with turn-ups.

The 1980s were short on turn-ups, but by the late 1990s Japanese cult denim brand Evisu single-handedly made blue-black denim with raw selvage turn-ups the only trousers to be seen in. The noughties brought the insouciant style of Italian men, with tapered trousers cut short and folded to show off expensive shoes. Then Zinedine Zidane arrived at a press conference to announce his return to Real Madrid in a pair of skinny-fit jeans with turn-ups and sent seismic shock waves through the fashion pack. At 46 years old, Zidane has no place wearing skinny jeans. Worn with four-inch cuffs, he has forever consigned the look to the dustbin of history.

Published: March 30, 2019 11:49 AM


Editor's Picks
Sign up to:

* Please select one