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First of all it would be interesting to hear what about the cufflink that is so horrendous.
Further, what is the suggestion from the editors when it comes to a cuff solution for formal evening wear?
I do hope that you are not suggesting that we all take after Mr Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen!?
So am I correct to infer that you think single-cuff shirts are preferred to double-cuffed ones? And because the latter serve no function over and above the former? While arguably true, I find them odd to single out. Why stop at the cuffs? What about shirt pockets? Or ties? Or suit cuff buttons? Or lapels? The clothes we wear are rarely pure function — they have useless aspects we intentionally include, for one reason or another.
So sure, cuff-links may be unnecessary, but don’t beat around the bush; say they’re ostentatious or bling or archaic or inconvenient. And argue the point.
Since when is a matter of style about usability?! We can all wear overalls and wellies (hmm, maybe I should try that…) and be perfectly useful in our clothing, but stylish? I think the cufflink is like all jewellery: an expression of ones-self is which you define your identity. A nice ring, a good watch, a special pair of sunglasses, a nice pair of barnstone cufflinks that look great on that grey French cuff. It’s me!
Carl makes a very good point. I think most people will agree that cufflinks serve primarily as an accessory while accommodating french cuffs. The attire seems to give off an allure of formality, and if that’s what one wants, let him have it.
Cufflinks are necessary & functional – to button the cuffs of French cuff shirts. Might as well have fun with them if you need them.
I totally disagree with Carl. In the body we all have a thing called an appendix, which once served a purpose, but is now totally superfluous. The cufflink is the appendix of dressing. Fashion is something that undergoes continual evolution, and in the same way that the suit evolved from riding jackets and breeches, tailoring and its accoutrements is now evolving away from any unnecessary fuss. When I put on a shirt, I don’t want to then have to waste time fastening up around my wrists, and then for the rest of the day having this excess sticking out and getting in the way – I want the cuff to sit flush. I think a shirt with a cufflink looks vulgar. It speaks not of radical and improved thought but of mental complacency. They are the playthings of lazy minds.
I agree with the sentiment on cuff-links Charlie – but I also have to agree with Carl: I don’t think it is purely the superfluous nature of cuff-links that you, we, find disagreeable. If that were the case we would have objections about a whole bunch of other stuff. Ties are a good example.
What is it then about cuff links?
Obviously I hate ties too, but they do provide some subconscious codes about a man’s intent which are still relevant in the way we interact as a society. Also the tie can play its part in visual tricks like lengthening the body, giving a shot of colour, or acting as the focal point of an entire outfit. So the tie is something that will become superfluous at some point in the future, but isn’t yet. The cufflink, on the other hand…
Hmm, seems like a provocation given just to provoke annoyance, but not real debate. As has been pointed out, we could all have collarless, lapel-less, button-less, belt-less clothing, but wearing strictly functional track suits wouldn’t be much fun or give much range for personal expression, would it?
Is the cufflink superfluous like the appendix as some have suggested? Possibly so, but it is important to note that even with the appendix the scientific jury is still out on it’s role in the human body. Thoughts that it had no role have been changing. So too might the cufflink come back into form and function.
Given the talk here it’s only a matter of time before the button, an equally archaic fastening device, is replaced by velcro.
Actually, I think ties are greater bane to modernity than cufflinks.
Tricky one, and I think it very much depends on the attire expected due to professional circumstances. I used to wear them but these days don’t and find them superfluous. Bear in mind that many business men can spend a significant time exchanging praising comments at the beginning of a meeting discussing cufflinks, ties and watches before tackling business. I know…
there are many many many more useless things in a man’s life than cufflinks, which are in fact not only a proper gentleman’s necessity but are aesthetically useful (that is, if one does have something to cuff link)
Personally, I like cufflinks because they draw attention to my hands, and I have been often told that my hands – large and well-proportioned as they are – are one of my finer features.
One works with what one has, right? :)
How about a Cravat?
Aah, the cufflink. The Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen of accessories. Always puts me in mind of a Jonathan Ross or a Vic Reeves, and that can’t be a good thing right…? Ditto cravats. Do we really want to be aping a Weller or, worse, a Kaiser Chief? Any dandy-ish affectation can only be excused if you are, in fact, Prince. Or Quentin Crisp.
Usability, for me, is a misinformed interpretation of function. I also think cufflink, in a decorative sense, is bourgeois and somewhat repulsive, at least with respect to modern form and content. The function of a button is the same as the function of a cufflink, so what you are talking about is a stylized version, and all too often this stylized, or anthropological (colonial, etc) design is just too bulky and shiny, very midwestern or “i havent really left the upper east side and I dont know what happened in may of ’68″………In the end, men who wear cufflinks are probably not critical of details, history, their role in western hypocracy, in the modern sense that the end of the world is, indeed, very close and cufflinks will take us there faster than if they were never invented in the first place. Meanwhile companies that make them promote the system and run away with the cash. Its a win win.
Of course the biggest faux pass is to dictate style to others. It`s innate or not. If the wearer derives pleasure from large glitzy cufflinks, why not. Personal style should be what we advocate. Otherwise its a uniform no matter how much you paid.
Now, let’s not be too hasty here. There are cufflinks and then there are CUFFLINKS. I own a discreet silver pair that come out every so often and when they do I feel more elegant, more dressed up. It’s like a girl slipping on expensive silk underwear. A little secret that you flash every so often. Let’s just make it clear. I do NOT wear expensive silk underwear, well, of the girlie kind least…
Leave the cufflinks alone. The almost unanimous derision of them makes me want to break out into a dance and wear them every day.
This reminds me of the conversation I’ve had 868 times with 434 dry-cleaners, maids and concierges over the years when my armfuls of white shirts return cleaned and pressed but minus several buttons. On only a few occasions have I hissed ‘Why do you clean clothes if you hate them so much?’ when discovering the chunky Borelli buttons have shattered or those white painted Rag & Bone metal saucer buttons are awol. Usually I have the presence of mind to ask ‘When I brought this shirt to you there were seven buttons, now there are five and a half, will you kindly replace the missing button?’.
This battle will not be won in my lifetime so I’ve taken several of my prized but war torn shirts to my tailors over the years requesting they install button holes where the buttons used to be, as if tux studs are coming home to roost. I’m sure you figured out the rest – I wear a half dozen cufflinks up and down the front of my shirt as well as on my cuffs. It’s important to note that nobody has recognized them as cufflinks when I point them out because they look like buttons. I found some on a Club Monaco shirt a few years ago and had a few dozen made which I keep in a small jar. Buttons sewn back to back (they have just under a quarter of an inch between them). Are you still there? Anyway, until unravelling and unbreakable thread is invented, or until I find a kinder laundress, I’m more than content with this all over link system however I love this conversation just touching on the sociological avenues that cufflinks travel. I wish you could see some of the hilarious Liberace-esque star-spangled carat-dangled cufflinks I’ve been given over the years. I also have several sets that mean something to me. One from the white house (bougie bougie but significant) one from my aunt in Paisley before she passed on, one from a jeweler I did one day of business with, and then my favorite, the tone on tone knotted stretch cord that seems to suit my style more than any cufflink. It really does pull together that tatty Agnes B suit I’m dying to recycle.
Reminds me when I used to work in a classical music artists agency. Cufflinks were only for non-subscribers and meant you could save your breath as the bejewed cufflink wearer was not perceived to be a likely repeat visitor. Ironically I always recalled seeing a few symphony performers who wore them. This was overlooked as long as they were pleasant.
Charlie I neglected to answer your question. It seems no. But I agree with some of your theories. I really do want to hear more of it’s irrelevance, sincerely and sarcastically. Bourgeoise ornamentation is always a hugely entertaining conversation/argument. I think I’ll throw a dinner party to recreate the night the Bauhaus split in two.
I have read these comments with great amusement ! I am always asked by my husband to do his cufflinks up and I always get it wrong! Wrong hole,upside down,back to front! So although at first I thought how ridiculous we must have cufflinks,now ,on 2nd thoughts maybe we should bin the lot!!!
dont cuff me, i wanna be free.
U-turn if you want to. This man’s not for turning.
If you’re comparing the utility of the button to that of the cuff link, the cuff link is naturally more useful since it can be applied to numerous shirts while the button is relegated to one sleeve at all times. The cuff link is also more durable than the button, as Randall pointed out, which, if you want to consider them symbolically, begs the question: what do flimsy buttons say about the person who wears them? Buttons are for bores, conformists, the lazy, and perhaps snobs. Cuff links are for individuals, connoisseurs of quality, dandies, and perhaps also snobs.
I completely agree with m.edwin! Vive le dandy!
Cufflinks are all right only if they are really pretty!
If all cufflinks were as beautiful as these solid murano glass ones at Kilgour, the debate would be quite different (their website is down, so try this link: http://stoicmagazine.com/style/kilgour-murano-glass-cufflinks/). I think, before all this theoretical talk is bandied about, that we need to admit that the main problem with cufflinks is that the majority of them are hideous…
At last Richard. Truth will out. Western men are permitted such a narrow range of display as it is without a new sartorial elite trying to reduce it further. Its the ugly jewellery we need to expunge.
Creativity and individualism were the two words that first came into my mind. I lie, it was actually “What?!” Those two words came second. Let’s not discount its merits, but celebrate its “key”. A key to ones personal taste and their appreciation of their self confidence in creativity and their individualism.
The great thing about cufflinks is, precisely, how superfluous they are. They serve little to no functional purpose so they should be all about the person who is wearing them. I am certainly not an advocate of Walt Disney cufflinks (or Mickey Mouse ties) but a cufflink gives the finishing touch to an outfit: it can be a splash of colour, a different shape, harmonising with the rest of the outfit. With glasses and watches (perhaps rings in some places), cufflinks are the only jewel a man can wear.
A world without cufflinks would be boring. I can only dread a world of minimalism, discretion and sobriety !
Long live the cufflinks.
Reading these posts, I found myself unable to understand why some people, who appearently show some kind of interest in this style journal and therefore in style and fashion, use the functionality-criterion to criticize the cufflink. Clearly, style and fashion as in ways to express ones personality have nothing to do with “use” or “functionality”.
And that is why this question in itsself is actually “useless”. If this is the general train of thought of the writers and readers of this journal, you might as well change the name, and exclude the “gentleman” bit, because the way I see it, gentlemanlike behaviour is not the result of “usefullness” rather than the result of a sense of refinement, and inspired on strong individuality. Come to think of it, you might as well just chuck out the “style” bit in the title, and start promoting clip-on ties – because god forbid, you would have to worry about what kind of knot to tie it with.
This is implicitly a call for uniformity and homogeneity in the way we dress. I see cufflinks as part of ones expression of personality, given the wide variety, ranging from very simple and minimalistic varieties, to very conspicuous designs. Moreover, men’s choices is style are limited enough as it is, not only when it comes to clothes, but especially when it comes to accessories. Most jewelry is regarded as unmasculin, unless if your name is Mr. T. And now you even wish to dismiss one of the most traditional and exclusively manly jewels available. Because it’s “vulgar”. It appears that a man who has the courage and pride to express himself, according to you, should be frowned upon. Why? Does it gauge your eyes out? It feels like an attempt at levelling in the nietzschean sense of the word.
In the course of history, there have been former attempts at sartorial levelling, usually in nationalist and socialist themes. Mobutu Sese Seko’s “à bas le costume” or abacost was one such experiment. I strongly advise you to look up the reaction of the Congolese themselves, by searching for “les sapeurs”.
Considering all this, I would like to rephrase the question: when considering style, by nature a form of self-expression, should we then concern ourselves with wich of the options presented to us are the most functional? My answer to this question should by now be quite clear. I couldn’t disagree more. For then, any discussion about the subject would become superfluous, including the existence of this very journal.
L’égalité, l’exécrable égalité, la pierre ponce de l’existence moderne, a passé sur tout, a tout limé, tout rongé et tout diminué … et c’est au moral aussi bien qu’au physique qu’il n’y a plus de talons rouges ! Barbey d’Aurevilly (1808 – 1889)
“Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.
They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty.” – Wilde (1854 – 1900)
With special thanks to Mr. Henri Vanneste and Mr. Thomas Van Loocke
I was going through my box of buttons the other day and remembered this conversation, still very amusing!
I agree, cufflinks are hideous!
I agree also that personal style is all about one discovering ones likes & dislikes, and what works for the individual (see my opening sentence), so there can be no one, correct answer!
I’m surprised no one has mentioned the cocktail cuff (I think they’re also called Napoleon or turn-back cuffs in some circles) as an alternative to french or single linked cuffs for semi formal occasions. I’ve been wearing them for years after I kept finding myself 1 cufflink short, whilst travelling. Seriously, do away with belts and cufflinks, and life (packing) is so much simpler and (so I believe) stylish).
Somebody mentioned his wife’s trouble doing up his cufflinks. To me, this is the final argument in their favor. Isn’t it a romantic, intimate moment before leaving the house? He zips her dress. She fastens his cufflinks. He tightens the clasp of her necklace. She straightens his tie.
If cufflinks prolong the dance by a few steps, then I’m in favor.
update #3: I’ve taken to purchasing buttons on ebay. Am reflecting on the shirts I wore in the 90’s that closed with luggage clamps. Jaunty.
Love the post. Hope men urban clothing information may guide someone there.
In our lives we go through different stages, when I designed my first collecion of shirts, they all had french cuffs, I imported great cufflinks from Mexico (pure siliver), after 15 years since then, I am still designing shirts, however, exclusively with single cuffs, cufflings are over…with 90ties.. they are simply not functional, and if I need a nice bijou, I can have a ring, neckless, earings, tatoo…
I love cufflinks. Worn with a beautifully crafted shirt, designer jeans and sandals (no tie) – makes for a great look.
I was surprised, not to say devastated, at this anti-cufflink vitriol from the otherwise-reliable FM. Other posters have described – with greater eloquence than I could muster – the lack of correlation between utility and style. Having recently begun a job requiring a suit (after years of wearing an ill-fitting corporate uniform) I am delighting in the variety of subtle stylistic nuance offered me through colour/pattern combination and discreet jewellery such as the tie pin or the cufflink. Of course death’s heads or union jacks are infra dig, as are piano-key ties and Homer Simpson socks – but let’s not condemn the cufflink out of hand simply because of a perceived superfluity.
Cufflinks are timeless and show that one has sophistication in one’s dress. I wear both the barrel and French cuffs. What I wear and when just depends on the occaision or my mood . Cufflinks don’t work for people who “rock” their clothes. It is to me a definite New York, London, or Paris sophistication that most Americans just don’t get. I love the variety and ability to express your mood that cufflinks provide. I have had more than one elegant lady comment positively on my cufflinks and the shirt. While in barrel cuffs, no matter how unique or expensive the shirt; not one comment. So guys, if you want the right attention, wear a French cuff shirt with cuff links. No jacket required.
The cummerbund is more useless.
Who gives a flying $hit? If you like em wear em, if not don’t. Easy as that. I thought of subscribing to this mag but won’t now due to stupid things the magazine promotes like this. BTW, the magazine had a cover boy who wore them in his picture, Tom Ford, who primarly wears cufflinks.
Personally I like the cuff links. They are a great way to mix up everyday attire and escape the monotony that life sometime become. If I am in a chipper mood I can always put of a pair of goofy cuff links and get a few chuckles.
Personally I prefer knitted cuff links. A great way to match your look in a subtile way.
This question does seem to have prompted heated debate. I must also side with the “cufflinks are a good thing” camp, as they can look charming with double cuffs. That is not to say there aren’t pitfalls. Generally I should say stay clear of semi-precious stones, or anything too glittery. Likewise elasticated knots are only for an emergency. Searching for antique ones may prove fruitless, as I found recently, where most of them were downright hideous. I have a pair of gold ones that belonged to my grandfather from the 1950s which look like they were pinched from the props department of Dynasty. They never have an outing but of course I wouldn’t part with them.
The best ones I should say are plain silver and platinum, or at a pinch, gold, with minimal decoration or engraving. Something unobtrusive yet satisfying like onyx or mother of pearl can be added to the mix, but they should look plain. Who can argue with that? Ultimately they are there to draw the eye momentarily, and “finish off” the shirt.
Everyone can get it wrong once in a while however. Chips Channon in his wartime diary notes that at a drinks party the King of Yugoslavia was wearing “rather common links”. Perhaps this was because it was wartime and people were living intensely.
P.S. It goes without saying that hot and cold taps and cockerels are a no-no.
A pair of 18k gold oval cufflinks (with chain link, not that hideous bar), jeans and a pair of hand made shoes and you’re good to go………..anywhere!! Smart, discreet, whats all the fuss?
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