Two tone cufflinks with custom details. Photograph from @kkbespokemen on Instagram
Style Necessary Style

Current obsession: Cufflinks

They’re subtle signifiers of your place in the world, as well as a window into your interests, affiliations, and values that make you unique.
Monchet Olives | Mar 11 2019

We have long ditched the tie as part of our arsenal, and moved to the classic navy suit with a tailored shirt as the new normal in business or cocktail wear. We have gone to great lengths to get the suit to fit just right, with the right fabric, operable buttons and a peek of a white linen pocket square to complete the style. But when it comes to matters of sartorial flair, it’s the well-known details that make a big difference. As far as the suit is concerned, few are smaller and far more impactful than the cufflink. A bold understatement, a symbol of elegance and style, cufflinks can be your best friends if you know how to rock a pair.

“Cufflinks are one of the few versatile men’s jewelry accessories that can add a touch of flair,” say IG mens arbiter @the.style.professor. "Collectibles through the years, and customizable — these accessories can incorporate precious and semiprecious stones and are often inspired by themes such as animals, flowers, and hunting. With styles ranging from classic monograms and family crests to playful bordering on comedic, cufflinks can be found to fit any occasion."

The origins of the cufflink can be traced back to the beginning of the 16th century. At the time, the only thing keeping cuffs from flapping about were small lengths of string that were used to tie the sleeve ends in place. By the time French King Louis XIV took to the throne in 1643, these crude cuff fasteners were on the way out, and in came decorative glass versions joined together by a small chain (very popular in Venice today, if I may add). In the years that followed, production techniques evolved and men took to wearing more extravagant jeweled styles as a way to show their status.

Today, the cufflink, with the pinky ring, and the watch, are what you find in a gentlemans’ dresser. (However, should you be a coño, pare, that should also include the gold ID bracelet and chain, with your medalla santa).

Why bother with cufflinks?

It begins with your choice of shirt. You’ve graduated from the barrel cuff to the French cuff, so with that, you need to get ready to dress. The cufflink  helps fasten the shirt, without strings mind you, and gives you a sense of putting yourself together. These small, but telling, men’s accessories are actually a surprisingly effective way to express yourself. From afar, cufflinks can make you appear confident, self-aware, and composed. Up close, these twin examples of men’s jewelry can be a window into the interests, affiliations, preferences, and values that make you unique.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Cartier Tank Chinoise in platinum with mechanical caliber. Cartier bamboo motive cufflinks in silver with jade.

A post shared by George Cramer (@george.cramer) on

So, if you’d like a little help making yourself heard and understood in a noisy, chaotic world, consider investing in a few, or better yet several, pairs of premium quality cufflinks. Wearing a linen barong daily, as I do, the cufflink is my personal style signifier. It amps up the look of classic armor. On a French cuffed shirt with a suit, a classic can become spirited and, at the same time, mischievous. I have a nephew who had a pair made in the shape of little mice—as a kid, his parents said he would raid the biscuits and leave little crumbs just like mice!

Here are some pointers for the cufflink newbie:

For starters, keep it simple.

Choose a pair of silver studs, and have them monogrammed. 

Purveyors like @kathyandkathybespoke and @neilfelipp are my go-tos. If you like edgier looks, and can manage them, you can hit up @13luckymonkey.

The idea to styling with cufflinks is about occasion. A formal barong will look great with a pair of pearl studs that you can pick up from @tesoroshandicrafts. Wearing a suit, the monograms would be perfect. If you fancy yourself a dandy, a walk into Cura V in Rockwell, Zara, Massimo Dutti, or even Marks and Spencer offer more options. I pick up very inexpensive pairs during trips to Bangkok at the Paragon Department store where they retail a bit over a 100baht a pair.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Something for him! Accessories from 13 Lucky Monkeys. #CuraV #13LuckyMonkeys #GiftsForHim

A post shared by Cura V (@curav) on

When wearing them in black tie, keep it subtle.

So let me put it simply.

Do go for clean, simple designs in black tie events or with business attire.

Don’t wear fancy cool cufflinks unless you have the personality to carry it off.

Do feel free to get creative with colors, patterns and shapes for less formal events.

Do opt for silver with engraved initials.

Do always wear cufflinks with French cuffs.

Do match your cufflinks to your shirt studs.

Whether you’re more comfortable in French cuffs and a suit, or in an office barong, or barrel cuffs and that double-breasted jacket, cufflinks are a great way to fine tune your personal brand. As my friend @the.style.professor, and avid cufflink collector says, “It’s the only ornamentation a gentleman can use as a means of expression that is not offered by the plain white button.” I couldn’t agree with him more.