The Curious Case of the Cutoff Cuffs

Well, it happened again. I had a pair of jeans hemmed last week, and sure enough, when I picked them up, the cutoff cuffs had been stuffed in the pocket for some reason. This perplexing occurrence has come up so many times that I’m no longer surprised when it happens… but I still have questions.


What am I supposed to do with these?

There are a few realities that come with being a shorter fellow (and, in truth, I’m perhaps on the taller end of what can be considered short). You’ll be the last one picked for team sports at recess, if you go to live shows you’ll only ever see the band from the waist up, you’re more or less invisible to the opposite sex, and you’ll have to have every pair of pants you ever purchase taken up by a tailor.

(Unless we’re talking about sweatpants, of course, but I really think Jerry Seinfeld said all that needs to be said on that particular subject.)

You do have a few options. A good tailor can take your measurements and sew a pair of pants specifically to fit you, but this can be expensive. Most of us simply buy most of our clothing off the rack these days. You can try to find pants that are actually the correct length, but this can be a maddening debacle. You can roll up the cuffs to the desired length, but be prepared for smart alecks asking you when the flood is coming. There’s always the option to just let your cuffs drag on the pavement behind you, but the ratty mess that will follow in your wake will be likely to draw looks of disapproval.

I’ve come to accept the fact that, for the remainder of my adult life, the price of every pair of trousers will have an $11 charge added for the alterations. I just consider this a sort of a Short Guy Tax. You may be thinking I could learn to hem my own slacks, but my Grade 9 Home Economics teacher would likely disagree (hi, Ms. Valiquette!). Some stores offer free alterations, but this degree of customer service is sadly becoming increasingly rare. More often than not, the purchase of pants is followed by a trip to the tailor.

Which brings me to the meat of the meal; every time I have a pair of pants hemmed – every single time – they come back with the severed remnants stuffed in the pocket. I don’t know why tailors and seamstresses insist on this. I have no use for these scrap loops of denim or gabardine, and I can’t imagine what anyone would want with them.

Are they provided as proof that the seamstress did the work she was paid to do? The fact that my pant cuffs no longer drag on the floor is evidence enough for me, thank you very much. Perhaps I’m meant to keep them in a biscuit tin (along with the spare buttons from all of my shirts and jackets) just in case I need to patch these jeans at some later date? But, no, that can’t be it; there’s less than an inch of usable material here.

Ultimately, I believe this is fated to remain one of modern life’s great, unsolved riddles, and I’m okay with that. I suppose I could simply ask them why they stuff the cuffs the next time I pick up a pair of pants, but I’ve learned that some things lose their magic when you know the wherefores and whys behind them. I’ll just enjoy the moment of bemusement when it happens, toss the scraps in the rubbish bin, and enjoy my newly-shortened pants.