Classic cuff question: to link or not to link?

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The shirt cuff is perhaps the more easy-going cousin of the collar, since your choice of cuff is more a matter of personal taste than of balancing proportions.

The only real decision you have to make when selecting a shirt cuff is whether to link or not to link. By that, I mean cufflinks.

I think we all go through phases when building and editing our wardrobes. In my case, I’ve been dressing a little less fussy and more comfortable of late, so I have started to reserve my cufflinks for dinner clothes.

That said, French cuffs, or the anglo-termed double cuffs, can be a whimsical way to bejewel the wrist. They also offer a world of options for friends and loved ones to come up with a suitable gift for you when your birthday, Christmas or Father’s Day rolls around: monogrammed, enamelled, vintage, etc. –even custom cufflinks can be found if you know where to look.

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When dressing in a powerful way, dark striped suits with waistcoats and pocket watches replete with dangling fobs and chains are perfectly harmonious with French cuffs. Tuxedos, velvet odd jackets, subtle or bold floral dinner jackets all require double cuffed shirts.  

A button cuff, as opposed to a French or double cuff, is simply a cuff that buttons sans cufflinks. The styles are generally one, two or three buttons placed vertically along the cuff. Among the options available at Surmesur, all of the one-button cuffs are convertible, which means they can be worn with or without cufflinks. This is also the most convenient option for men who like to roll up their sleeves.

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From there, variations include two-button convertible, faux double, or even tabbed cuffs if you want to channel your inner GI Joe. Strictly speaking, if your cuffs have tabs on them, you’re wearing a sport shirt, not a dress shirt. When it doubt, go with a regular two-button cuff, the most popular choice for the average man.

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All of that being said, you can follow certain guidelines when it comes to proportion. For instance, a one-button cuff is narrower and is therefore a good choice for a man under 5-foot-8 or with short arms. A portly gent might also choose a cuff with less length, such as two buttons, vertical or convertible. Conversely, a three-button cuff helps to visually shorten longer arms, as does a wider cuff in general. 

Again, shirt cuffs are generally more forgiving of personal tastes than is the collar, which, as I’ve said before, should be chosen to harmonize with the proportions of your face. I would therefore suggest trying different cuffs to expand your sartorial presentation. 

 

In his more than 30-year career as a retail menswear consultant, Peter Lloyd Greer has accumulated an encyclopedic knowledge of the dos and don'ts of men's style. He is always eager to share his sartorial savoir-faire, either as Surmesur's in-store training specialist or as its designated expert style blogger. peter@surmesur.com

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