In fashion, it’s the smallest details that matter. While men typically aren’t experimental with accessories, the focus has been more functional elements of the attire. Cufflinks, however, can be both functional and experimental, adding a dashing final touch to your outfit.
It’s likely that you like to fold the cuff of your shirt or use the button to fasten them. However, you’re missing out on the compliments from those who appreciate the finer details.
If you’ve just received cufflinks as a gift from a loved one or are looking into adding them to your look, allow Deakin & Francis to guide you on how to wear cufflinks.
What are Cufflinks?
Cufflinks are used for fastening shirt cuffs closed and are an alternative to buttons, which are usually sewn into the cuff. While most shirts that men wear feature a one-button barrel cuff, those with double cuffs (French cuff shirts) and elegant dress shirts worn to black tie and formal events require the finishing touch from cufflinks.
These small sophisticated items, usually made from silver or gold-toned metals, secure the cuffs for a perfect fit around the wrists. Cufflinks were created in the sixteenth century, as a replacement for string, worn in order to prevent cuffs from flapping around.
When Louis XIV of France took to the throne in 1643, the old-fashioned fasteners were on the way out, replaced by stunning glass cufflinks that joined with a small chain. Over time, the production techniques of cufflinks evolved and men wore lavish jewelled styles to emphasise their status. Learn more about the history of cufflinks.
How to Put Cufflinks on
Knowing how to use cufflinks can be confusing at first, especially if you’ve just received a pair for the first time. A cufflink fastens a shirt together by sliding through holes on either side of the cuff opening, then swinging them into a locked position to hold the cuff in place.
We’ll explain how to wear cufflinks on a regular shirt using the most common type of cufflink design. The most common cufflink type on the market comprises a large head with a decorative front, a post that comes out from the back of the head and a hinged toggle that swings out to fasten the link.
This cufflink is fastened by setting the toggle to its closed position, ensuring a straight post descends from underneath the head. The post slides through the holes on the cuffs before the toggle is swung outward to prevent the post from going back out.
With the cufflink in place, the decorative front face of the head can be seen at the top of the buttonholes.
Types of Cufflinks
To understand how to wear cufflinks, it’s important to know the distinct types of cufflinks available and how they fasten:
- Whale Back Cufflinks take their name from the flat head, straight post and “whale tail” that flips flat against the post. These cufflinks are simple and easy-to-use thanks to the large post and closing mechanisms. The majority of cufflinks available are usually the Whale Back type.
- Bullet Back Cufflinks are similar to whale back cufflinks, except the post is a hollow frame, while a narrow metal cylinder inside the frame acts as the close mechanism. To lock the links in place, the cylinder flips outward, which puts the frame in place as the post.
- Stud or Button style doesn’t use a hinge mechanism, instead it uses a large head, a straight post and a smaller inside head or backing. The smaller head tilts and is worked through the buttonhole to be straightened out to lock the cufflink in place.
- Chain Link Cufflinks have two heads which connect by a short chain. This is a looser fitting than other styles and shows a visible decoration on both sides of the closed buttonholes.
- Ball Return Cufflinks have a curved post with a miniature, heavy ball opposite the decorative head. The fastening is looser than hinged cufflinks, but is tighter than the chain.
- Locking Dual-Action Cufflinks have a hinge mechanism similar to a metal watch band. The hinge acts as the entire post while the cufflink swings open, the smaller end is slipped through the opening before the cufflink is closed by clipping the sides of the cuff together beneath the head.
- Knot Cufflinks are similar to chain link cufflinks as they have two heads connected by a short, flexible soft cord instead of metal and each head are decorative knots.
- Fabric Cufflinks are available in any of the above fastener styles but include a fabric button at the top as an ornamental face.
When to Wear Cufflinks
Cufflinks aren’t typically seen as an accessory you wear every day, but something reserved for special occasions. They are most commonly worn for formal or semi-formal occasions, weddings and often with business attire, for smartly dressed men.
While not every long-sleeved shirt requires cufflinks, men are experimenting with their wardrobe to find more outfits to display their cufflinks. This has been helped by everyday cufflinks that will help you stand out from the crowd all year round. If you’re looking for more info on when to wear cufflinks, then check out our blog post.
Black tie events are the most formal of occasions and require you to wear a suit. Cufflinks add a suave finish to your outfit, especially in subtle colours.
While cufflinks are an important part of your wedding suit, they can add something unique to your appearance. Use the event to be more experimental with the colour, shape and style of the cufflink to exhibit your personality.
A pair of cufflinks is a distinguished finish to your business attire. Most people who wear cufflinks at work tend to choose understated designs, but it’s still worth experimenting to find the right pair for your business outfit.
Where to buy Cufflinks
If you’re looking to buy luxury cufflinks from world renowned crafters of designer jewellery, Deakin & Francis have what you need. Every pair of gold and sterling silver cufflinks is handcrafted in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and can be personalised to you.