Cuff links have existed since the 1600s, but only emerged as a fashionable accessory for most men beginning around the 1950s, and not only for formal wear. Men should be able to accessorize, too, and wearing a pair of cuff links gives you that put together look that you just don’t get with buttons at the cuffs.
What you might also not be aware of is that there are some fairly consistent rules about wearing cuff links. In this crash course, we’ll take a quick look at the keys to choosing and wearing cuff links. Let’s with the right sort of shirt.
Shirts and Cuff Links
As you already know, cuff links stand in for buttons on a shirt’s cuffs. While we will leave the type of collar you choose entirely up to you (most look best in a spread/cutaway or a pointed collar), the shirt has to have “French cuffs”. These, as one expert writes, can be worn “anytime you feel like sprucing up an outfit.”
How to Wear Them
We could more accurately say how to “choose” them because you need to consider your cuff links as a pop of color or contrast. Some basic recommendations for choosing them and also expressing a bit of personal style include:
- Go with contrast, i.e. gold or color against white.
- Go subtle, i.e. skip diamonds and precious stones and opt for something subdued.
- Go for coordination if you have stripes, and pick the secondary color and match it.
- Go with your personal preference
- Skip flashy stones and diamonds, and stick with more classic, sterling silver cufflinks.
- Keep other accessories in mind, try to coordinate with your belt, rings or jewelry and watches and the cuff links
Wearing the Links
Because you are wearing a French cuff, you will just fold it over and align the button holes. All cuff links require you to pinch the layers of fabric together and insert the decorative facing through to the outer area of the cuff, where it can be seen. You will have the back facing you, and the style of the cuff link determines what you must do to keep it in place. Many are set in place simply by sliding it through the cuff.
Let’s consider the most common styles. If you are wearing a T-bar clip, you will need to flip it open after pushing the link through. The stud or button options work as their name describes, pushing through like a button and remaining in place. Ball return styles slide through and remain firmly, though loosely in place. Chain link are also just slipped through the hole, but the head is actually pushed through each hole one at a time with the chain hanging beneath the two openings.
If you are worried about loose cuffs, there are also locking styles that click shut after you push one end through an opening. There are also silk knots that are for more formal events or for those who like a pop of color (and affordability) at their wrists. These are just pushed through and remain firmly in place.
You now know what sort of shirt you need, some basics in choosing materials and colors, and how to insert them. You have many options for shirts and cuff links and if you wear dress shirts regularly, you will want to express your style by choosing shirts and cuff links that are a good match to your personality.
[Image Credit: milosljubicic / 123RF Stock Photo]