Cufflinks have been a fashion staple for the well-dressed man since the 18th century. Today, you don’t need the resources of Louis XIV to afford these decorative shirt accessories, just a strong sense of what style appeals to you. Cufflinks come in a dizzying array of shapes, colors and materials, making it a simple matter to customize your look for any occasion.
Cufflinks are small disks used to hold the cuffs of your shirt together in place of buttons. Typically, cufflinks are made up of two disks attached by a post or small link of chain.
Try to coordinate the look of your cufflinks with your tie clasp, watch or other jewelry. A matching tie clasp and set of cufflinks creates a sharp, organized look.
You’ll need a special shirt to wear your cufflinks. The cuffs of your shirt will have two buttonholes instead of one, and the length of the cuff may by single or double length. Double length cuffs are referred to as “French” cuffs and are the preferred cuff for use with links.
In today’s fashion world, cufflinks are considered formal wear, but that shouldn’t stop you from wearing a pair to an important business meeting or night out.
Whether you’re wearing a pair of cigar-shaped cufflinks or a set with the logo of your favorite sports team, cufflinks may be the ultimate in personalized man’s jewelry.
Depending on your sense of style, you may prefer an artistic set of cufflinks from David Yurman or John Hardy—or you may prefer the professionalism of a set by Kenneth Cole or Burberry. If you—re in a playful mood, consider the novelty creations of Johnston & Murphy.
Classic cufflinks often feature mounted gemstones. Many stones are available, from the formality or diamond or onyx to the casual look of turquoise or lapis.
While most modern cufflinks feature a toggle style back, you can also find post-and-stud backed links and even two-sided cufflinks with designs on the front and back. Handmade, enamel or paved-stone cufflinks are also popular options.
Novelty cufflinks feature shapes and icons from popular culture and lend a casual, playful air to these somewhat formal accessories. Look for team logos, cartoon characters and holiday themes in this type of cufflink.
Cufflinks are typically made of precious or semi-precious metals, but can be made of leather, wood and enamel as well.
More than any other accessory for men, cufflinks are about personal expression. Those little hunks of metal that peek from beneath the sleeves of your suit coat can say a lot about your taste, confidence and personality. At home in the office or the opera, cufflinks add an extra bit of polish to a man’s look.
Cufflinks began to appear in Europe in the mid 1700s. While the man on the street used cuff strings to keep the sides of his shirt cuffs in place, aristocrats and kings used metal disks held together with links of gold or silver chain. As manufacturing evolved, cufflinks became cheaper to produce and were worn by just about everyone.
Today’s cufflink is actually made from a post that connects a disk (typically metal) on one side and a lever or toggle at the other. The surface of the disk is often decorated with stones, designs or monograms.
Cufflinks require a shirt that has two buttonholes, but no buttons. The cuffs of these shirts (often referred to as “French” cuffs) can be either standard length or double length. Double length cuffs ensure that the cuff—and link—is visible beyond the suit sleeve. The cuff can be wrapped around itself—called barrel style—or the two ends may be placed together—called kissing cuffs.
To insert the cufflink, fold the toggle parallel to the post and insert the toggle through both cuff holes so that the decorative face of the cufflink faces outward. Next, fold the toggle back so that it lies perpendicular to the post. The toggle will hold the two ends of the cuff together, while the decorative disk faces outward.
Cufflinks are available in a seemingly infinite array of styles. Finding the right style is a matter of matching your personality and the occasion where you’ll be wearing the cufflinks. Here are several popular options to consider:
Simple: For most occasions, a simple metal disk is all you’ll need. The disk may be polished of have a matte finish. It can have rounded or beveled edges. Consider having the disks monogrammed for a personalized look with just a touch of decoration.
Artistic: For extra flair, consider artistically decorated cufflinks by one of the major jewelry or fashion designers. Artistic cufflinks may have mounted stones, mixed metal design or detailed enameled patterns. Artistic cufflinks are a sure bet to catch the eye and make a statement.
Novelty: Novelty cufflinks allow you to declare your allegiance to a team or cause—they even allow you to promote a favorite sport or hobby. Usually created using colored enamel; novelty cufflinks are perfect for less formal occasions or for those that don’t take themselves too seriously.
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