For the modern-day gent, cufflinks are about as close as you get to jewellery without actually wearing jewellery.
The ultimate humble brag, this sleeve candy can take an otherwise boring shirt and give it a touch of personal flare like nothing else. But which type should you wear and when?
First popularised in the 1700s, there’s a lot of history and tradition around cufflinks – some of which still stands today.
Here, we explain how to know your double panels from your toggle backs and the best way to tackle this ultimate finishing touch.
Cufflinks With A Tuxedo
The mere mention of cufflinks immediately makes me think of Bond. James Bond. There’s a timelessness to them that conjures images of tuxedos and smoking jackets; in short, the good stuff. The specific kind of cufflinks you wear with a penguin suit requires a bit more discernment though.
First and foremost, let’s talk shirts. Any man worth his salt should have a dinner shirt that requires studs – see Bradley Cooper and Sam Smith below for reference. These take the place of buttons and can add an extra element to your standard tux. Generally speaking, the studs should match the accompanying cufflinks which can be made of anything from black onyx to diamonds. Talk about bling, eh?
If 24 carats aren’t really within budget though, look further afield to silver iterations from the likes of Georg Jensen and Mont Blanc. With a dinner suit, simplicity is key – look for elegant, sculptural links that will last. After all, how often are you really slipping into black tie?
Cufflinks With A Suit
Gents don’t often get the chance to make a splash at the office – after all, there’s only so many ways you can style a navy or charcoal suit. In contrast, cufflinks provide an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
When choosing a pair of cufflinks for the office, look for those that have personality without verging onto the side of vulgar. We’ve all seen that guy who wears a pair of novelty horse shaped cufflinks during the racing carnival. Don’t be him.
Being a silver watch wearer, I generally stick with matching cufflinks that have simple designs – a knot for example – or elegant detailing like a monogram or a crest. If you do want to dabble in something slightly more flamboyant, opt for resin and sterling silver options. These will maintain their shine and not scratch as easily as stainless steel versions.
Cufflinks With A Blazer
‘Casual’ isn’t the first dress code that comes to mind when you mention cufflinks. In fact, it probably doesn’t even register as a possibility. Despite this, there are very specific circumstances that can warrant their use – all of which involve a blazer.
If you are looking at dabbling with cufflinks and a sports coat, ensure that you choose a fine set (ideally a set of monogrammed heirloom double panels). These offer a sportier aesthetic compared to heavy contemporary styles. When looking for inspiration, turn to the British landed gentry and almost every Ralph Lauren ad you’ve ever seen. Tweed jackets and riding jodhpurs are the name of the game here.
Cufflinks With A Regular Shirt
As a rule, I only ever wear cufflinks with a French cuff shirt. They tend to have a weight and formality which feels in keeping with the tradition of this sartorial accoutrement. However, this isn’t the only option.
The inimitable Peter Johnson of Peter Johnson Tailors makes a strong case for the single-cuff shirt. As he says, ‘they (single cuff shirts) are a little more streamlined and interesting with the right link’. And as the gent below demonstrates, this is a look that works particularly well on a slim armed jacket, avoiding any of the flaring that can happen with the more traditional double cuff.
Matching Cufflinks With A Tie Clip
When it comes to bolstering your look, there’s no need to go wildly overboard. You’ve already managed to tackle a double French cuff – the hard work is done. One thing which can up the ante even further though is a tasteful tie pin.
When accessorising, opt for a set of plain gold or silver double panel cufflinks and pair them with thin matching tie pin. When selecting your pin, look further afield to antique shops. They often have elegant pieces that come with a good story. Alternatively, the likes of Mr. Porter and Harrolds have a perfectly serviceable range.
Caring For Your Cufflinks
Cufflinks are hard wearing – they are designed to knock against the side of desks and be dragged through blue biro. This being said, there are a few ways that you can keep them in pristine condition and ensure they last.
First and foremost, store them in a compartmentalised box or a leather cufflink case while traveling. This will ensure that they don’t chip against one another. Linley offer an outstanding box that is as beautiful as it is functional.
Secondly, keep a cloth handy in the office to wipe away the dust and grime that can accumulate during the 9-5 grind. This can easily build up and detract from the detail on your links.
Finally – and perhaps most importantly – ensure they get a good wearing. There’s nothing sadder than a beautiful set of cufflinks left in the box and regular wear ensures they don’t tarnish.