I am a man who like jewelry. Of course I would, I am a gemologist, I run a jewelry store, and I blog about mens fashion and jewelry. Unfortunately there is a limit (contrary to what some men believe) to how much jewelry men can wear. I am not going to lie, there are some days I push that limit, but if you do it right and subtle you can get away with just a little extra. Here is where the french cuffed shirt comes in . Now that is sort of tongue in cheek, I don’t wear frenched cuffs just to wear extra jewelry, that’s a bonus.
I am not convinced that French cuffs (like fries and kissing) are even French. once considered to be a formal way to wear a dress shirt, French cuffs have made their way down the echelon of mens shirts to gasp! casual wear with denim. I am not sure where I stand on that last decision, but I do fully embrace the french cuff as often as I can. To me a shirt with a french cuff is an ideal way to add some personalization to your duds. If I have on a nice pair of trousers and choose to forgo the jacket and tie, i know a nice pair of cuff links will instantly up the came of my clothing choice.
You have two main options to fasten your cuffs, the obvious, cufflink, and what is often sold with your french cuffed shirt, the Turk’s head. A Paris shirt maker Charvet is credited with the introduction of the silk knot in 1904. They became quickly popular: “Charvet buttons of twisted braid are quite the style” noted The New York Times in 1908. They are now rarely made from silk, often they are made from elastic, and some, metal cufflinks are even shaped to look like a silk knot.
I know that cufflinks did however originate in European, even French, clothing as a utilitarian way to fasten the loose cuffs of your shirt sleeves. They quickly became less of a necessity and more of an adornment, Especially with royalty. The forerunner of today’s shirt first appeared early in the 16 th century, its ruffled wristband finished with small openings on either side that tied together with “cuff strings.” Cuff strings would remain popular well into the nineteenth century, but it was during the reign of Louis XIV that shirt sleeves started to be fastened with boutons de manchette, or “sleeve buttons”. These were usually glass buttons joined together by a short, linked chain.
By 1715, simple, paste-glass buttons had given way to pairs of, decoratively enameled or jeweled studs, typically diamonds, connected by ornate gold links. Hence was born the cuff “link”, whether simple they were glass buttons or gilded and bejeweled fasteners.
There are a few great labels out there making great french cuffed shirts. They are not, unfortunately readily available on the shelf at your favorite local mens clothing store. I am going to refer you to three of my favorites again (I referenced them in Bringing Paisley Back as well) Firstly, express has some very well made and affordable french cuffed shirts in a variety of patterns, but only in the right season, usually fall, or online. Indochino also always has something nice and classic in a french cuff available since you can custom order basically anything you want. And finally for the daring Bertigo always has something extraordinary. I urge you gents to embrace the french cuff. It is a great ay to add your personal touch, to class up without being over done, and to continue looking swell.
- The World’s Most Expensive Cufflinks (litamanchester.wordpress.com)
(images from howtobeswell archive)