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Up in Arms: The Raglan Sleeve, by Eric Twardzik

March 26th, 2024

The raglan is a distinct style of sleeve that’s often employed in tweedy outerwear like balmacaan coats, though it’s also a distinct feature of Barbour jackets and baseball tees. Distinct from the standard, “set-in” sleeve common to tailoring, wherein a sleeve begins where the shoulder ends, the raglan starts at the collar itself and extends in a single piece to the end of the wrist. 

As Oliver Mumby, Cad & The Dandy’s head of design explains, the raglan sleeve is a creation of one Lord FitzRoy Somerset, a British Army officer and the 1st Baron Raglan. While commanding the British army in the Crimean War, Raglan was seen wearing coats whose sleeves extended all the way to the neckline in a single piece. In time, his titled name became associated with this distinctive feature. 

While Raglan’s effectiveness as a battlefield commander in that campaign is hotly debated—he did, after all, instigate the Charge of the Light Brigade with a bungled order—the martial merits of the sleeve that bears his name are well-recognized. 

“This design had practical advantages for military uniforms as it allowed for greater ease of movement, especially when the soldiers needed to raise their arms or perform various tasks,” says Mumby.

Considering the upgrade in movement and comfort that a raglan sleeve provides, it should be of little surprise that it found popularity in peacetime, too.

close up of raglan sleeve

“Over time, the raglan sleeve made its way into civilian clothing, and it became a stylish and functional feature in various garments,” Mumby continues. “Nowadays the style is used in modern sporting and shooting garments as it gives added comfort and movement. The more comfortable and slightly oversized style allows the garment to be layered over tailoring and is often made as raincoats and other practical yet stylish items.”

But just because the raglan sleeve is widely considered to be easier wearing doesn’t mean it’s easy to produce. According to Mumby, cutting a raglan requires more expertise. “The shoulder style is often perceived to be a difficult one to cut,” he says. “It relies on great experience of the cutter, and a great base pattern.”

Fortunately for Cad & The Dandy, when it acquired the 302-year-old Stockholm tailor Götrich & Co. in 2018 it discovered the sartorial equivalent of a cheat code in its archives. “When we bought the Swedish tailors Götrich, we inherited their old blocks,” says Mumby. “Over the decades the raglan was known as their signature look and it’s great to be able to continue this tradition.”

Book your appointment today to discuss commissioning your very own raglan coat, made your your bespoke measurements and tastes. Appintments are available in London, New York, Stockholm, and at trunk shows around the world.