Three Things to Consider When Choosing Cufflinks
In today’s hyper-sensitive environment, a stray word or two can land you in a heap of trouble. That’s where the art of accessorizing comes in handy. As far as men’s accessories go, cufflinks are more than just a stylish way to hold your cuffs together. These small, but telling, men’s accessories are actually a surprisingly effective way to express yourself. From afar, cufflinks can make you appear confident, self-aware, and composed. But up close, these twin examples of men’s jewelry can be a window into the interests, affiliations, preferences, and values that make you unique. So, if you’d like a little help making yourself heard and understood in a noisy, chaotic world, consider investing in a few, or better yet several, pairs of premium quality cufflinks.
However, before you rush out on a shopping spree, be sure to do your homework. First impressions are usually lasting ones, and whether you’re dressing for a semi-formal or formal event or just looking for a more stylish alternative to your standard button-cuff dress shirts, a little cufflink know-how is a valuable thing. It seems the basic premise behind cufflinks hasn’t changed much since their inception in the 16th century when strings, and later delicate chains, were used to cinch up a man’s shirt cuffs. Besides nimble fingers, the only real prerequisite for adding cufflinks to your well-heeled look is a long-sleeve, single- or double-cuff shirt with small holes on both sides of the cuffs. How-to videos and illustrated guides are readily accessible online. And to help you get started, we’ve summarized some of the more oft-repeated tips about what to consider when choosing cufflinks below.
Choose a cufflink style that’s easy and quick to put on. Functional as well as ornamental, most cufflinks are comprised of two end pieces, a short chain, silk rope or post connecting the ends, and (in some cases) a locking mechanism. Granted, if your nickname is fumble fingers or anything remotely close, maneuvering a dime-sized accessory with just one hand can sound a little tricky. Actually though, affixing these little guys to your cuffs is really pretty easy. Just line up the cuff holes (either by overlapping the two sides of the cuff or by pressing the insides of the cuff up and together to form a ridge), weave the cufflink through the holes, flip or slide the closing mechanism and voila – you’re done. OK, it might take a little more dexterity than that, but practice and the type of cufflink you choose can make a difference.
- Push cufflinks. No movable parts; just two ends (one sometimes larger and more ornate than the other) connected by a single straight or curved post. The smaller end is simply pushed through the cuff holes the same way you would push a button through a button hole. Examples include stud or ball return cufflinks.
- Chain or silk knot cufflinks. Although these options are more flexible and looser fitting than typical push cufflinks, they operate in a similar way. One end is pushed through the cuff holes (pulling the chain or silken rope behind it) and then twisted into place.
- Toggle or hinge cufflinks. Thought to be the easiest to affix and among the least likely to lose, these clever alternatives have one decorative end and a movable toggle or hinge on the other end that can be positioned parallel to the post during insertion and then flipped down into a perpendicular position after insertion to secure the cufflink in place. Examples include sleek bullet or torpedo backed cufflinks or easier-to-grasp flat, whale-tail backed cufflinks.
- Locking cufflinks. This innovative design boasts a dual-action, folding (or sliding) construction that pulls the sleeve fabric in more tightly, eliminating baggy, loose-fitting cuffs. When open for insertion, the cufflink’s separate halves are positioned end-to-end, one slightly higher than the other. Once, the first end has been pushed through both cuff holes, the two pieces slide back over one another to close.
Traditional or trendy? Sophisticated or down-to-earth? All business or game-for-anything? Whether you’re more comfortable in French cuffs and a suit and tie or barrel cuffs and a sports coat, cufflinks are a great way to fine-tune your personal brand. Whatever message you want to send, your choice of apparel and accessories can speak volumes.
Take the array of top-brand cufflinks shown above, all conveniently available at www.epicmens.com. The David Donahue sterling silver fleur de lis cufflinks on the far left pay homage to a classic coat of arms often associated with 12th century French royalty. The delicately crafted water lily design symbolizes perfection, light and life – worthy sentiments to be reminded of on a daily basis. The mother of pearl mosaic cufflinks next in line (also David Donahue) are synonymous with modern elegance. Sleek and sophisticated, they’re the perfect accoutrement for today’s contemporary formal attire. Third up are LINK UP’s blue checkered enamel cufflinks. Neutral tones and a no-nonsense design make them a safe and practical choice for the office or for a sure-to-please gift. However, if practical is the furthest thing from your mind, nothing says “you’ve arrived” more so than a pair of Montegrappa’s rose gold cufflinks with onyx inlays. And finally, for the man who plays as hard as he works, Jan Leslie’s handcrafted whimsical cufflinks (in this case, speedy retro yellow convertibles) are a great way to have some fun and telegraph your priorities. These five examples are just the tip – of the tip – of the tip – of the iceberg. Professions, sports, hobbies, attitudes – if you can imagine it, there is a cufflink design out there to embody it. Crafting an image of yourself that you’d like the world to see takes effort. Accessorizing carefully is one way to set the tone you want right from the get-go.
The price tag on a quality pair of cufflinks varies according to the materials used and the level of craftsmanship involved. However, stepping out in style doesn’t necessarily mean you have to break the bank. You can find cufflinks that are both serviceable and attractive for as little as $25. Silver finishes and fabric coverings will be among the least expensive, followed by sterling silver, a widely popular and versatile choice that begins at around $75. If you’re looking for something that’s still affordable, but is also a tad edgier, titanium, carbon fiber, gunmetal and stainless steel are all great options – and they’re exceedingly durable and lightweight to boot. Decorative facings made of crystal, glass or polished enamel are favorites as well, and add just the right amount of sparkle and color to liven up an otherwise somber suit. However, if luxury is what you’re looking for and price is not an issue, then it’s worth your time to explore the world of precious metals and gemstones. Nothing says success more convincingly than a pair of diamond-encrusted 14 karat-gold, rose gold, or platinum cufflinks. And an investment like this has the makings of an heirloom – a prized possession that’s intended to last longer than just one lifetime.
Eloquence is an enviable trait in a world where personal, as well as professional, relationships depend on your ability to comfortably share your thoughts, ideas, and sentiments. But words are not the only way to communicate effectively. If you’ve got something to say and words aren’t adequate, consider letting your accessories do the talking for you. After all, there’s no reason that subtle messages can’t also be powerful ones.