Signature Surgeon's Cuffs

If God is in the detail, then what we do here at F.E. CASTLEBERRY is religion. Much of what we do, from our hand-sewn shoulders to our full horsehair canvassing, is not so much seen as it is felt. After all, that’s what this is all about right—feeling? Clothes are about feeling something. If you were to look under the hood, every painstakingly beautiful stitch is there for your consideration.

“God is in the detail.”
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Despite its modesty, a bespoke suit does have one tell. Surgeon’s cuffs. During the 19th century, England’s Savile Row was inhabited largely by surgeons before the tailors moved in. Their lingering influence can be seen in the “surgeon’s cuff.” On bespoke suits, the cuff buttons, which mirror the pips of military rank, can be unbuttoned, allowing the sleeve to be rolled up. This enabled surgeons to attend patients spouting blood without removing their coats*—a notable distinction that set them apart from less prestigious shirt-sleeved tradesmen.

Surgeon’s cuffs essentially became an indication of social rank (doctors were “upper class” in the 19th century) and to this day are typically found on bespoke garments. However, a handful of ready-to-wear manufacturers have recently taken to applying lipstick to a pig finishing their suits with working button holes. Where once a suit’s craftsmanship was plainly worn on one’s sleeve, now its provenance is largely ambiguous.

Our signature surgeon’s cuff—a three button stance…far from kissing—is a testament to our pietistic devotion to design and craftsmanship. Each button hole is sewn entirely by hand here in New York and finished with genuine Italian horn buttons. We like leaving the last one undone. Think of it as a wink to those in the know and an irreverent nod to the pedant few.

*Prior to 1885, the majority of homes in America were heated with wood burning brick fireplaces. Basically, nobody wanted to take their coats off during the winter, even if they were delivering a baby or amputating a foot. It was that cold.