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Cufflinks: The Joys of Workhorse Jewelry

Cufflinks first made their appearance in European fashion during the 16th centuries. As the great Spanish and British empires rose, great wealth poured in from around the globe the aristocracy were able to refine their apparel. Major distinctions arose between the upper and lower classes in terms of dress and the bejeweled cufflink made of precious stones was one clear way of showing social position.  However cufflinks did not solidify themselves as a fashion statement until the 19th century as the sleeve became more pronounced.  The cufflink was an excellent way to accentuate an otherwise bland swath of white cloth.  Mass production enable a proliferation of metal links without precious gemstones that still looked stylish and the cufflink as a necessary accoutrement was born. Cufflinks hit both ends of the style spectrum and can be either gaudy or understated cool. Youth and exuberance tend to gravitate towards the gaudy and it is always the tendency of the nouveau riche to make an ostentatious display.  Whether or not this is acceptable depends a great deal on culture assumption and in fact we must constantly remember that fashion is a delicate blend of environmental need and culture value. There is no such thing as fashion for the wealthy and normal clothes for everyone else. Every single piece of cloth is an object of fashion and the cufflink is no different.

Not All Cufflinks are Made Same

The double panel cuff is perhaps the most common version available. Two small discs are joined by either a short bar or a chain. Cufflinks come in pairs of two, one for each sleeve and it is an extremely rare and often eccentric choice to have one sleeve cuffed and the other open. One must be at the caliber of Lenny Kravitz to pull something like this off.

The silk cuff is a rare but acceptable type of cufflink. The silk cuff is made of two connects silk dots and is better suited for formal attire. The silk cuff does not endure well in an office environment. In fact all formal attire is by design delicate and is only meant to be worn for a few hours a few times a year.

Cufflinks today are only worn with French cuff shirts and though the style is regaining popularity it is still considered either an eccentric or fancy choice in most environments. There is much ground to recover to make the cufflink part of the normal vocabulary of men’s fashion, but with the rising interest in style for men, the future of the cufflink looks promising.

Michael Snell

Loving father and husband