The Gentleman’s Guide to Wearing Cufflinks
For a long time, cufflinks have been associated with style, formality, and class. The ornamental aspect of custom made cufflinks makes these traditional accessories a common choice of stylish men who want to add an eye-catching detail to regular formal wear.
The hype for custom cufflinks dates back to the 18th century. But in contrast to the type of popularity it has in current fashion, cufflinks started becoming common for their functionality as a necessary item when wearing dress shirts. By the 19th century, the bourgeoisie picked up the accessory as an essential part of their wardrobe, making it a fashionable trend popularized by the middle class.
In present day, the modern cufflinks are proudly worn both in formal and casual wear. It is treated as a fashion staple for men and people from all walks of life.
Parts of a Cufflink
The common custom cufflink is made up of 3 main parts - the head, the post, and the toggle.
The head is the biggest part of a cufflink and the first thing that you will notice when it is worn on a shirt. It is the prominent part of the accessory and you can design your own cufflink by personally choosing the decoration for the head. The decorative front is called the “face”. It can be made of certain materials like enamel or metal, and adorned with a precious stone or even the wearer’s initials for extra personalisation.
The main function of the post is to connect the head to the toggle. It is the part that goes through the buttonhole, so it is usually hidden. However, you can still choose to customize this part. Some posts can be made of silk or chains for added detail.
The toggle is on the other end of the cufflink, opposite from the head. It keeps your cufflink in place and prevents it from sliding out of the buttonhole and falling out.
Common Types of Cufflinks
Cufflinks are miniature accessories that add only the tiniest detail to your attire. But this doesn’t mean you have limited options for styling these accessories. Remember that their small size makes every detail of your personalised cufflink stand out, so it’s important to know which type of custom made cufflink will complement the rest of your attire. You can choose from plenty of cufflink types depending on the style you are going for.
Bullet Back Cufflinks
Bullet backs are the most common cufflink types you will see being worn with the usual suit and tie. It has a flat head, hollow post made of two short bars, and a simple design - ideal for corporate attire.
Whale Back Cufflinks
Whale back cufflinks are similar to bullet backs in appearance. The flat head makes them identical to each other. The difference is the straight post and the flat “whale tail” that takes the place of the bullet-shaped toggle. This is the easiest type of cufflink to use.
Fixed Backing Cufflinks
This type needs no flipping or sliding to keep your cufflink in place. The wide, fixed back is enough to secure your cufflink in the buttonhole. These, however, may be tricky to insert compared to other cufflink types.
Stud or button cufflinks is a type of fixed back cufflink that makes it look like you are wearing regular buttons. They have no moving parts requiring more effort to fasten in place.
Chain Link Cufflinks
Chain links are the most traditional looking and one of the easiest types to use. A short chain connects both ends which are often reversible, which means having two ornamental heads.
How to Wear Cufflinks
A cufflink takes the place of a button and gives a more detailed look from its decorative head.
It fastens the cuffs of a dress shirt by sliding the post through the buttonholes and is fixed in place with the other end or the toggle, depending on the cufflink type. Some cufflinks secure tightly or allow loose cuffs.
Best Cufflink Materials
Choosing the material that makes up your personalised cufflinks is as important as selecting the main design. Making the right choice of material may depend on your budget, your style, or the quality you want to achieve. Cufflinks can be made from all sorts of materials, from smooth glass to precious stones.
Metals are the best materials for custom cufflinks mainly for their durability. Gold, silver, iron and other precious metals are known for their longevity and durability. Some are also scuff resistant, like gold, which helps to preserve the aesthetic value of your accessories. Gold and silver custom cufflinks add a timeless, elegant look to your attire, perfect for fancy galas and events.
Stainless steel is rust-free, hypoallergenic, and corrosion-resistant. It is the best alternative for those sensitive to metals. It is another durable material you can choose for your cufflinks but they give out a more simple look, ideal for corporate and formal wear.
This material is just as good as the common metals, appearance-wise. But sterling silver is less expensive and lighter. It keeps the brightness and shine of precious metals minus the extra price. Its durability is another factor for being one of the primary choices for cufflinks - sterling silver is stronger than gold.
Another way to customize your cufflinks is through plating. Your regular metal cufflinks can be plated with another material to upgrade its design. Plating also allows you to save on costs; a gold-plated cufflink is cheaper than one made entirely from the same material. There are plenty of options available for the type of plating for your cufflinks. The most common ones are gold, silver, copper, brass, rose gold, as well as their antique versions.
When to Wear Cufflinks
They say cufflinks are for fashionable gentlemen and people who love luxury. This may be true years ago when the middle class started the cufflink trend, but today, anyone can definitely rock cufflinks with whatever kind of attire. There are certain situations, however, when it is best to wear your custom made cufflinks. Knowing when to wear and what type of cufflinks to wear gives people the idea that you know your stuff and you have impeccable taste in fashion.
There are no written rules on when you can wear cufflinks, but it is recommended to wear less flashy accessories in corporate attire. You can stick to custom made cufflinks with simpler designs if you really prefer cufflinks over buttons. If you are the boss, feel free to wear your elegant cufflinks as a sign of seniority.
Social events are probably the best times to show off your custom cufflinks. You can have custom engraved cufflinks that match the theme, or personalise them to look your best on a special occasion. Of course, you still have to consider the type of event you are attending. When attending black tie events, keep your cufflinks simple to attract less attention. At wedding parties, you can design your own cufflinks and give them away to your entourage.
The bottomline is to wear cufflinks when you know that it suits the situation and your style. You may also decide based on the rest of the elements of your outfit or your budget for personalised cufflinks.