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Swellboy on… rolled-up jacket sleeves

The pop star who had a surprise up his sleeve

Swellboy on… rolled-up jacket sleeves

Image: Brijesh Patel

August 07 2010
Nick Foulkes

As a terminal nostalgic, I am always looking for trends from the past to revive; my current favourite stylistic retread is the unfairly maligned 1980s vogue for rolling up the sleeves of both shirt and sports coat. I recently executed this look with a Rubinacci linen suit in a pale shade of beurre frais and a striking red and black linen shirt. While wearing this style (and toying with the idea of acquiring a mullet to go with it), I bumped into Nick Rhodes of the Duran Duran, who was able to set me straight on an important piece of sartorial history.

I always thought that this look was pioneered by Don Johnson in Miami Vice, a television show that, for the latter half of the 1980s, provided my generation with an alternative view of America to the one promulgated by that other hyper-realistic drama, The Dukes of Hazzard. This pleasant seaside town in Florida (a sort of Brighton but without the pier) was portrayed as a veritable land of Cockaigne (as well as the land of the almost homonymous stimulus), where everyone drove expensive convertibles, handled firearms that looked as if they had been bought at the Design Museum and instructed their tailors to make jackets, the sleeves of which were perpetually turned up.

I mentioned as much to Mr Rhodes and he corrected me at once, saying that this was a Duran innovation, and he is of course quite right. Duran Duran formed in 1978 and the epic video for Rio, made in 1982, featuring some of the finest scenes of suit-wearing in the Caribbean since Our Man in Havana, showcased a carmine suit, by Anthony Price I think, worn with the sleeves pushed up to the elbow.

See also

People, Sleeves