Created in the 1600s, cufflinks rose to prominence in the later part of the 18th century and have become a must have accessory for formal outfits. Designed for French cuff shirts, cuff links are the perfect elegant accessory that any man can use for a more polished look.
Find out how to choose and wear cufflinks to complete your formal outfits and show off your taste and expertise. With a few simple rules, you can turn cufflinks into a huge asset for your style and avoid any rookie mistakes for these sophisticated accessories.
Types of Cufflinks
Before you go out to shop for French cuff shirts and the cufflinks that go with them for the perfect look, you need to learn more about each type of cufflinks to make the right choice.
The most common type of cufflinks, the torpedo has one decorative face and a swivel-bar and post that keep if fastened. If you’re not prepared for a big investment, they’re a great first time purchase. If you’re worried about how to choose and wear cufflinks, these are the simplest and easiest type to wear for most formal events. Once you’ve got the perfect French cuff shirt, all you need to do is set them and clip to secure.
Chain Link Cufflinks
Also called double-panel cufflinks, this type is the more traditional one and can be worn for more formal events. Instead of the swivel-bar, they have a second decorative face and they’re usually reserved for black tie occasions.
Made from two balls joined with a metal bar, this type of cufflinks doesn’t have any special mechanism for being worn with the French cuff shirts. You simply push them through and they’re secure. With a much simpler design that other types of cufflinks, these are the perfect choice for the man who wants to make a statement about elegant simplicity.
Silk Knot Cufflinks
Unlike other types, silk knot cufflinks are the right choice for day wear. While most cufflinks should only be worn with a shirt under a suit, silk knots give a little more freedom and they’re at the casual end of the spectrum when it comes to this stylish accessory.
photo: Marcel Floruss
How to Choose the Right Color for Cufflinks
The most important thing when matching cufflinks to your wardrobe is the shirt color, but other metal accessories are also very important. The most versatile colors for cufflinks are white, gold and silver. Blue and black cufflinks are other popular choices.
After you match the cufflinks to your French cuff shirt, you also need to pay attention to any other metal accessories you’re wearing. From your watch to your belt buckle and shirt studs, all the metal parts need to match for a good outfit.
photo: Łukasz Omiotek
If you’re set on wearing gold cufflinks, the right shirt colors are black, green, blue, yellow. Silver cufflinks are much more versatile and so are black and blue ones. If you want to wear cufflinks in the warmer color, red or burgundy, match them with brown or beige, but never white shirts or suits.
How to Wear Cufflinks
Once you’ve chosen your cufflinks and matched them to your outfit, you need to know how to wear them correctly. The most important advice is to only wear them with a suit. Cufflinks weren’t designed as casual accessories and even the less fussy silk knot ones need a bit of elegance.
For black tie, you can go big with diamond or pearl cufflinks, but when you’re attending events with a less strict dress code, you can go for simple metal ones or cuffs decorated with different shades of enamel or semi-precious stones. Even if you’re wearing them during the daytime, with a less demanding suit, avoid novelty designs and stick to classic shapes. Go for bold geometric shapes when you need to look your best.
Once you put on your French cuff shirt, fold the cuffs carefully to create an even line for the ends of the sleeves and line up the holes before securing the cufflinks. Check yourself in the mirror before and after putting on your coat, since cufflinks need to be facing outward when you’re keeping your arms on the sides.
For more casual looks, you can go for more colorful designs, but never pair a French cuff shirt with a cardigan. Instead, go for a blazer with jeans in dark denim for a cool look.