Cufflinks 101

Historically serving as a status symbol, the cufflink has an incredibly rich history; one which has made appearances at an array of sartorial situations. The cufflink had humble beginnings, simply used as a tool for fastening shirt cuffs closed, it was ultimately the predecessor to the modern-day shirt button. Only as times changed and men embraced the notion of “personal style” did the cufflink become what it is today, a blending of both form and function, personality and tool. Just like today’s button, cufflinks come in various shapes, sizes, materials and styles. From the simple and utilitarian to the bold and clever, cufflinks are an opportunity to make a statement about your personal style, whether it be traditional or not.

Dress shirts with either a single cuff, which looks like a regular buttoning dress shirt’s cuffs but with holes on both sides of the opening; or doubled-back “French” cuffs both call for cufflinks to stabilize and secure the cuff of the shirt. You’re probably most familiar with cufflinks from formal situations where most tuxedo shirts are french cuff in style and required a cufflink closure. Stylistically speaking, a french cuff-style shirt is more dressy than your standard button-closed shirt. The full cuff not only gives off the air of a Gordon Gekko-style titan or a regal king, but it’s a style of shirt that says you mean business.

Cufflinks can be crafted from nearly any material; gold, silver and precious stones have been adorning the wrists of gentleman for generations. Get creative with materials, especially in regards to the occasion. A formal occasion would generally call for a more formal material in comparison to a casual business meeting or day at the office. There’s also something to be said for keeping things simple and classic with the most formal occasion when you are wearing a tuxedo. With that in mind, a simple silver or gold knot is always an excellent decision.

When you’re ready to pull the trigger it’s time to consider your source for your next set of cufflinks. Obviously great options can be had at fine menswear retailers as well as online but we’re also going to encourage you to think outside the box. Why not keep it in the family and search your grandfather or father’s closet for a secondhand set? The generational gap between you and your father or grandfather likely leads to a time where cufflinks were far more common in men’s wardrobes so we guarantee a little bit of treasure hunting can unearth both literal and figurative gems. After enjoying some family bonding and rummaging through the closets of your closest relatives for that special heirloom, another location to consider might be your local antique or vintage shop. Both second hand options and family hand-me-downs are sure to give you a sense of pride but also a great conversation starter for years to come.

One final tip, if you really take a liking to rocking cufflinks on the daily, don’t forget that tailors can easily convert any shirt with a basic button arrangement into one that requires cufflinks.