Cufflinks are a practical and ornamental piece of jewelry to incorporate into your formal wardrobe, but when does the occasion call for them, and is there ever a time when you should avoid them?
Black-tie events call for a dinner jacket and matching trousers, a formal pleated white dress shirt, a cummerbund or waistcoat, and a black bow tie. Proper dress shirts have holes for cufflinks in the sleeves, which means that cufflinks are a must at black-tie occasions.
Also often known as ‘full evening dress’ or ‘tails’, white-tie dress codes are the most formal you’ll come across. An evening tailcoat with peaked lapels must be worn unbuttoned with matching trousers, along with a white pleated evening shirt with folded cuffs and wing collar, a white waistcoat, and a white bow tie. Cufflinks are of course essential, and white gloves and a top hat are optional extras if you want to go all out.
If a wedding invite stipulates a black-tie dress code, it goes without saying that you’ll need cufflinks. However, if the dress code is semi-formal, formal, or black-tie optional, you might opt for a smart yet simple suit that you can subtly dress up with cufflinks for a flash of metallic accent.
The need for cufflinks at work depends not only on your employer’s dress code but also on your personal preference. Cufflinks aren’t typically deemed essential business attire, but if you’re looking to impress and bring extra sophistication to your work wardrobe then cufflinks fit the bill. Some people feel that cufflinks are an opportunity to express a touch of personal style or to demonstrate their attention to detail, both of which can be important in the competitive world of business.
How should I wear cufflinks?
Cufflinks can only be worn with shirts that have suitable holes in the cuffs. Single cuff shirts look much like normal dress shirts only with holes on both sides of the opening. Double-back or ‘French’ cuffs are designed to fold back on themselves and have holes that line up once folded.
Traditionally, the two sides of the cuff opening are lined up flat with the interiors facing one another in what is known as a ‘kissing’ style, and the cufflink is inserted through the holes to secure the cuff. However, it is also possible to fasten the cuffs in an overlap, just like you would with a buttoned cuff only with cufflinks in place of buttons. This ‘barrel’ style gives a slimmer, more modern, and businesslike look than the ‘kissing’ style which is somewhat ornamental. There are no hard and fast rules about which cufflink fastening style to go with, but if you’re heading out to a very formal black- or white-tie event, you’ll probably want to opt for ‘kissing’ cuffs.