Thursday, September 2, 2010

Things I like: Cufflinks

Okay, so I proposed to share my limited knowledge about fine mens clothing, and the single item that launched me into the wide world of tailored suits and custom shirts was french cuffs and cufflinks. I received my first french-cuffed shirt and cufflinks as a birthday present some years back from Better Living, and so began my 'fancification'.

Okay, let's start at the very beginning. French cuffs have a "double cuff" - twice the amount of fabric at the cuff that is folded back on itself. Also, french cuffs have no buttons, just button holes, and must be fastened in some manner. Enter the cufflinks. So why do I like french cuffs and links? Well, there are two main reasons, which are both actually very practical. The first is, a french cuff seems to me to more properly fill a suit sleeve. It just seems made to fit; it takes up the whole space and makes the sleeve conform nicely. A french cuff sitting rightly in the sleeve will provide a nice skeleton for the jacket sleeves, making the buttons and their little flap of fabric actually stand up. The second reason is that good cufflinks (mine are sterling silver and pretty chunky) weigh the shirt sleeve down so it doesn't ever get stuck up in the suit jacket; it hangs perfectly on your wrist at all times.

Now, there are some choices when it comes to what kind of links you want. The cheapest option, and I think it is pretty fashionable, is "silk knots". These are little fabric knots which take the place of proper cufflinks; I like them and would probably buy some if I ever saw them in a shop. They allow a dash of color to get added in, which does admittedly perplex me a tad, but I've seen them around and they look handsome enough. Then there are the double-stud style of metal cufflinks; these have a larger stud that goes on the outside of the cuff connected by a curved metal band to a smaller stud on the inside. Now, some people prefer these as you get "double the mileage" out of your links as there are flashy studs on the inside of your cuff as well as the outside. I prefer the final option, toggle cufflinks, over the double-stud style for a number of reasons. First, they are the most plainly obvious. There is no doubt that yes, those are in fact cufflinks, not elaborate buttons or snaps or some such. Second, the straight metal bar and the toggle really make the cuffs take a nice shape: a nice, crisp "kissing cuff" where the two sides of the cuff are snug and flat against one another. The curve in the metal link on the double-stud style (necessary because otherwise the link would be really short and difficult to get between those four buttonholes) tends to, in my opinion, leave the cuff rather loose and unshapely, letting the extra fabric puff out to each side. This makes them look, to me, sort of like unbuttoned barrel cuffs. This loss of definition defeats, for me, one of the major advantages of the french cuff I espoused above: the shape.

Alright, that's all for now. I'll try to get some fun pictures up in the future.

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