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The Ultimate Cufflinks Guide

by Zack Evar |

So you are looking to invest in some cufflinks but don’t know enough about them, their history, what styles are available or even when to wear them. Well, fear not, as below you will find a handy guide that will answer all of the questions you may have. It's important to stay stylish and elegant if you want to be a modern-day gentleman. Be sure to look into our other guides to dressing like a modern gentleman. Including, Mustache stylesThe guide to Gentlemen's suit, How to dress to get noticed, and preparing for a big night out.  You should also want to keep your skin fresh and smooth with the gentlemen's face moisturizer and face wash, as well as our shaving cream and shaving brush.

cufflinks, mens accessories, mens suits

What are Cufflinks?

Cufflinks are a popular accessory that is typically used to fasten cuffs on shirts and other clothing, usually men’s and boy’s ranges specifically.

They are manufactured and sold in a range of varying materials including metal, glass, leather, stone or fabric and are invariably secured via a locking mechanism attached to the back of a “head”. However, there are variants that are secured via a solid metal bar or other materials. They are also an important part of the gentlemen's look. Just like shoe care, and the types of knots you tie.

The History of Cufflinks

The earliest remnants of cufflinks started appearing in the 1600’s but it took until the 1800’s for them to become exceedingly popular.

The earliest styles of cufflinks, in the mid-17th century, tended to be a very simple ribbon tie that held cuffs together. This was initially a practical accessory for every class, but soon gained a reputation as a fashion statement and status symbol and quickly became a feature of the upper class only. This ensured that these ribbon fasteners became much more extravagant and were often adorned with varying styles of pattern.

By the end of the century, these early cufflink equivalents made their way back to every social class. However, the working class would tend to use them for a practical purpose; to ensure that their cuffs did not fall into any dangerous machinery.

The popularity of modern cufflinks began in the middle of the 19th century. Influence from French style of literature elevated the popularity of the double cuff shirt. These required a different style of cufflink from the ribbons of the 17th century. This is when more secure cufflink styles were born and jewelers soon went about creating these accessories from more solid materials and even precious gemstones and diamonds. Unfortunately, this meant that the new cufflink fell back into the hands of the wealthy only. However, a new discovery saw cufflinks hit their heights during the Industrial Revolution.

In 1882, electroplating was in full swing and a German jeweler named George Krementz capitalized on this by creating a machine that could produce cufflinks on mass at a very cheap cost. This escalated the popularity of the cufflink as they became affordable to everyone.

The 20th century saw the emergence of very extravagant cufflink designs thanks to the Art Deco movement. These enamel cufflinks created by such jewelers as Faberge and Cartier hold extreme value in today’s world.

In the 1970’s, the invention of shirts with buttons sewn into the cuffs meant that cufflink sales dropped considerably. However, celebrity culture was in the middle of an haute couture trend and so the cufflink was just about kept alive by the famous and wealthy.

In the 21st century, cufflinks are enjoyed by everyone across the world and social status plays no part in their popularity.

Styles of Cufflinks

In today’s world, there are seven styles of cufflink that are generally considered the most popular. These are Knot, Whale Back, Bullet Back, Stud, Chain Link, Ball Return, and Locking.

All of these styles of cufflinks differ generally because of their fastening mechanism. However, there are also some key aesthetic differences.

Whale Back and Bullet Back cufflinks usually consist of a single head with a connection that snaps into place once placed through the cuffs.

Stud and Ball Return cufflinks are made up of two heads fastened together by a solid metal bar. Due to their solidity throughout the cufflink, these styles can be expensive.

Chain Link cufflinks are similar to the aforementioned Stud and Ball Return, but the two heads are fastened by a delicate link of a movable chain, as opposed to a solid bar. This makes this style of cufflink very easy to fasten but prone to damage if not cared for properly.

Knot cufflinks are also made up of two heads and a single bar as a connection but are normally made of yarn or a similar soft fabric. These are the cheapest styles of cufflinks generally and often come complimentary with new dress shirts.

Finally, Locking cufflinks hold a similar fastening mechanism to that of a watch, which is hinged into place through the two cuffs of the shirt. This style of cufflink can be difficult to fasten for beginners but are extremely secure once fitted and shouldn’t require updating for a number of years.

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