The Compass  /  AccessoriesStyle  /  A Guide to Cufflinks and French Cuffs

A Guide to Cufflinks and French Cuffs

Email this to someonePin on PinterestShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on Tumblr
Compass Guide to Cufflinks

For some guys, it was fumbling through a sweaty, anxious prom night. Some late bloomers even wait until their wedding day. Whenever you had your first experience, you probably cherish the memory as a meaningful step towards becoming a man. We’re talking, of course, about the first time you put on a pair of cufflinks.

Cufflinks, more than any other accessory a man can wear, stand out even when you try to hide them. Like that rug in the Big Lebowski, a pair of cufflinks can really tie your look together. So how do you find the links that match your style?? In the words of ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus, “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.” Wait…that was Ice Cube. Epictetus said, “Know first who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.” Either way, the point is the same, start by looking at your personal brand. So are you the Boss Man, the Manager, the Creative, or the Upstart?

Picking the Right Cufflinks for You

Types of cufflinks

You’re one of the new breed of entrepreneurs, young, ambitious, and cutting-edge, yet always mindful of the old-school fundamentals of success…like good old-fashioned hard work. Your style reflects your hard-charging attitude. When you walk into a room in a fine suit and place your briefcase on the desk, revealing an elegant pair of cufflinks everybody knows you’re running things.

Your Cufflink Collection
As the boss, you can wear a French cuff shirt and cufflinks whenever you damn well please. Our suggestion?  Have at least five pair of links and five French cuff shirts. That’ll get you through a work week without ever dipping below the high bar you set for yourself when you show up on Monday looking fly as hell.

How to Wear Them
The key word is refinement. Nothing says nouveau riche more than a pair of overly flashy cufflinks. Look for understated handcrafted links that reflect your “I got this” personality. Hefty metal cufflinks are just what the doctor ordered.

Shopping Tip
On your best cufflinks, both sides are designed. You don’t do anything half-ass, so don’t do anything half-wrist either. Vintage cufflinks, like the gold-toned hourglass link in the title image above, can round out your collection.

Types of cufflinks

As a middle manager you are the conduit between the top brass and the less experienced young’uns. Perhaps you always deal with the tougher customers or you’re just damn good at juggling an ever shifting landscape of priorities. Your style echoes your personality, so when you rock the French cuffs and the cufflinks, it’s not about putting on airs, or “dressing up” but about showing a little spirit. It means you woke up in the morning and said, “let’s do this!” For you, wearing a pair of cufflinks says, “I’m not to be trifled with…” Wearing the right pair of cufflinks says, “…but I do enjoy a good joke.”

Your Cufflink Collection
Two or three pairs of cufflinks and French cuff shirts are sufficient. Wear them everyday and you begin to look like a social climber. Wear them only for special occasions and they begin to seem too precious. Instead, break these bad boys out a few times a month and they’ll give you a little lift that’ll rub off on everyone around you.

How to Wear Them?
The contrast in your French cuff shirt collection should match your intensity. While a stark white shirt is fail safe, a contrast collar and cuffs would be a bit much for Tuesday’s operations meeting. Try a blue or pink shirt to tone down the overall effect.

Shopping Tip
Look for color. With a neutral palette, a pair of cufflinks with a color that is in the same family as your pocket square or tie, or even socks can bring some boldness and vitality to an otherwise low intensity outfit.Types of cufflinks

You express yourself through writing or design or some other creative field. Your job is to capture lightning in a bottle, over and over again. But as glamorous as it may sound, being a creative is hard work and takes practice, just like anything else. You must constantly remind people that you don’t just sit around drawing pictures all day, so your style must reflect professionalism. Still, your personal brand means you should express your creativity in everything you do, and there’s no better place to do that than through your cufflinks.

Your Cufflink Collection
If you never wore one French cuff shirt in your life, nobody would be surprised. All the more reason to own at least one. Truly creative people are full of surprises and breaking the mold with your style is no different. Your cufflinks are like sunny days, wear them often enough to be appreciated, but not so much that people start to take them for granted.  We’re looking at you California.

How to wear them
Want an easy way to appear unoriginal? Wear the same and French cuff shirt and cufflinks over and over again. To stay fresh try a service like Freshneck that lets you check out accessories the way Netflix does with DVDs.

Shopping Tip
Tone down the irony. Cuff links as satire is a once-in-a-while move, not a sartorial standard. Your cuff links can be fun but they should never look like you’re wearing them to make fun of guys who wear cufflinks.

Types of cufflinks

You, young man, are on the rise. You’ve got big dreams and a tiny apartment. Maybe you’re interning at a place you want to work at or own someday. An intern in French cuffs? Hell yes! You’ve noticed how the big dogs around the office are peepin’ your style and you want to make your mark.

Your Cufflink Collection
It may seem counterintuitive but wearing cufflinks more often will make it seem like less of a special occasion when you put them on. Now is the time to pick up a few French cuff shirts. Try mixing French cuffs into your routine once or twice a month, especially in the summer. Three or four pair of silk knots and one pair of metal links for formal events will serve you well.

How to wear them
Appropriate is the key word for you. Your sense of style ought to impress the boss, not upstage him. Your cufflinks should reflect your youthful exuberance with pops of color. Try convertible cuffed shirts with barrel cuff buttons and buttonholes on both sides (think single layered French cuff) that also allow for cufflinks.

Shopping tip
Even on an intern budget you can manage to pick up silk knot links by the handful. With so many color combinations and two-toned versions you can probably even find your school colors. Suddenly your wrists are an intro to your resume…

Boss Man: “Nice cufflinks.”
You: “They’re my school colors.”
Boss Man: “Where’d you go?”

Game on.

One Last Rule

Now that you know the rules of the cufflink game for any type of gent, go ahead and throw ’em out. Pick a pair of cufflinks you love, snag them and rock ’em. The truly stylish gent knows that style rule number one is “dress for yourself first, even if you gotta break the rules sometimes.”

Got a favorite pair you’d like to tell us about?  Have a question for us?  Leave a comment below!

Email this to someonePin on PinterestShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on Tumblr

Like What You See? There's More.

We'll send you style advice and intel for the modern man.

53 thoughts on “A Guide to Cufflinks and French Cuffs”

  1. I wan to buy personalized cufflinks for my fiance’ as a wedding present. my question is do the personalized messages need to match on each of them. For example can one have his initials or our initials together and the other have our wedding date. Or will that look silly.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Cufflinks don’t necessarily have to have matching designs. They should look like a set, but they don’t need the same inscriptions on them. In fact, your idea about initials on one and the wedding date on the other sounds really cool. As long as the basic cufflink is the same, you’re good to go.

      Now on to the most important questions: When’s the wedding, and are we invited? We know just what to wear to a wedding.

  2. What type of cufflinks would I buy for a blue tux? Would I go for the classic black ones to match my bowtie and shoes or should I go for something with a pattern?

    Can you recommend an option that is affordable?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Black is still the way to go, Sidd. If the bow tie and shoes (and hopefully the lapels too) are black, then reinforce the look with classic black cufflinks.

      As for getting a pair, we can help you out there. We offer an option that is quite reasonable and comes with studs as well, in case you want to wear a shirt with stud buttonholes.

  3. Great article to make men classy no matter what they do for a living!
    I recommend a new brand called CENTURIO. They have very modern designs which I believe would look outstanding for any occasion.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      These are pretty classy cuff links as well. A little heavy on the branding, but thanks for the rec, Andre.

  4. Check out Louis Faglin they have been around since 1899. Manufactured for Hermes and Louis an stuff. Amazing collection!!

    1. We love a brand with a good history. Thanks for the rec!

  5. rbrtharris2015 says:

    I personally think your article is fascinating, interesting and amazing. I share some of your same beliefs on this topic. I like your writing style and will revisit your site.

    1. Much appreciated. Keep coming back for more!

  6. This line covers the spectrum from casual to sophisticated. All handmade in NYC! http://www.bazpersaud.com

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Nice choice Smithy. Love the backings.

  7. Handmade and strictly MADE IN ITALY cufflinks, made of steel, brass, and other noble metals, with skillfully applied stones, enamel or Swarovski crystals.


  8. I love my Masonic “Square and Compass” cuff links! Wear them to Lodge to look sharp and to match my tie bar! I also have cuff links that have my children’s birthstones in them, and one pair of fairly simple, yet sleek ones!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Nice James, way to give some personality and meaning to your style. The children’s birthstones idea is genius!

  9. how do you wear cufflinks with a horse design on them – does the horse face you or the other way?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We prefer cufflinks facing out but that’s not a hard and fast rule. There are no hard and fast rules for any cufflinks that have a face on them. Rules come from the old guard and the old guard just doesn’t wear cufflinks with faces. Clearly, as you can see from the cufflinks above, we’re not exactly conservative when it comes to cufflinks.

  10. Great article. Question, I’ll be in a ceremony in a semi-dark grey tux with kind of a raspberry-ish color tie. Was thinking about trying to find raspberry-ish cufflinks to match. Good idea? or better to just keep it simple with some nice silver or rhodium links?

    1. That’s a tough call. Both options (colored cufflinks or metallic ones) are appropriate for this outfit. It depends on your mood. Feeling a little more festive? Go with the color. Just stop at the tie and cufflinks. Adding the same raspberry red color to your socks or pocket square could quickly get too “matchy-matchy” looking.

  11. Cuff links should be matching with your shirt. These cufflinks are the men’s best accessories.

    1. Matching works. We like a little contrast sometimes too. It all depends on the situation.

  12. I have a pair of cufflinks, Red(port) & Green(starboard), which adorn my black tie on board ship so that when I fall over after too much post-prandial I can be picked up & placed the correct way round 😉

    1. Now that, gents, is how you plan an outfit. Excellent foresight, sir!

  13. James Hayward says:

    Cufflinks have been the best known accessories in men’s jewelry range since a long time. I always use Cufflinks by Thomas Pink. A high quality, wide ranging selection of the best cufflinks all exclusively designed by Thomas Pink.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Nice choice, James. Old Tom’s still got some tricks up (and links on) his sleeve.

  14. I am interested in French cuffs and cufflinks.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hopefully, we encouraged you to wear them even more!

  15. Corporate Cufflinks says:

    I bought my husband a pair of classic-car cufflinks and he loves them, he wears them all the time! My personal faves of his though are his Subbuteo cufflinks, they’re all about fun and are classy at the same time.

    1. Cufflinks are a great way to show some personality and the beauty is, the more you have, the more sides of your personality you can show. Keep building that collection!

  16. How about some skull cufflinks? Appropriate occassionally at work (in a really open minded working environment)?

    1. Skull cufflinks, while a little morbid, are fair game in an open-minded work environment. They’re kind of a statement piece. We wouldn’t recommend wearing these all the time or they’ll go from “those are cool” to “those again?” in a hurry.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Paul Smith does make some great ones besides the pencil links we highlighted above. The pinup nudes are fantastic, plus they set up a lot of “is that a banana in your pocket or are you just happy to see my cufflinks” jokes. Actually, that joke isn’t really appropriate for workplace chitchat, hence they didn’t make our list.

      We prefer the Paul Smith wallet with the naked lady tucked discreetly inside so we don’t have to wear our titillation on our sleeves. :-)

  17. Thanks so much I really appreciate it. I love Black Lapel you guys know what style is.

  18. Here are a couple more cuff link shots.

    Keep up the good work Black Lapel you inspire.

    Here’s a link to “Photo Jun 17, 9 28 13 AM (1).jpg” in my Dropbox:


    Here’s a link to “Photo Jun 14, 12 05 23 PM.jpg” in my Dropbox:


    Sent from my iPad

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Those are some beauts! Love the way you matched the red with the tie in the first outfit. Style is in the small details!

  19. I hope this works. I’ve never done this before.

    Here’s a link to “Photo Jun 19, 11 47 46 AM.jpg” in my Dropbox:


    Sent from my iPad

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Nice, Michael. Some golden goodness is always welcome on the wrist.

  20. I must say I love this site. I learn quite a Few tips from you, keep up the good word. I love to see people dressed properly. There’s nothing more beautiful than a woman impeccably addressed and to see a guy in French cuffed shirt, , properly fitting tie tie clip, and highly polished shoes.. Perfect.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Agreed. Plus when a woman is impeccable and her man isn’t bringing his sartorial A-game it makes it look like she’s ready for an upgrade. Don’t give the competition any ideas, fellas.

  21. BL would I be able to attach one or two small pics for others enjoyments. I must turn in I am tired


    1. Black Lapel says:

      If you’ve got some pics of your collection, send them to us at concierge@blacklapel.com. Extra credit if you take the pics wearing a Black Lapel shirt and jacket!

  22. I love my two pairs of mesh links. One pair in silver and another pair in gold with very small rubies. Then I have a regular pair in blue and silver and pearl. I wear them with different suits about two or three times a week. I have quite a few French cuff shirts, slim fit. Love them. I love reading the posts BL

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Thanks for the kudos Mike! You’ve got yourself a solid collection. Mesh links can be so classy – we’d love to see a pic if you’ve got the time!

  23. Then there’s the custom option. Once you’ve earned it, why not treat yourself to a pair of cufflinks with your initials on them?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Now you’re talking, Rishi. You know we’re all about customized EVERYTHING here at BL!

  24. Great post, yet again. Wondering if this blue suit is the test material or the slightly darker shade of swatch sent to me and eventually available for suits?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Good eye, Kyle! The suit in the header photo is the Spanish Blue Herringbone which will be available very soon. Stay tuned.

  25. Can you explain why some handcuffs have two sets of holes? How should they be used? :)

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Michael, we think you meant shirt cuffs and not hand cuffs. 😉 With some French cuffs, the 2nd set of holes (higher up) allow the cuff to be rolled up higher after some wear and tear so that the cuffs can look new again. Hope that helps!

  26. Thank you very much! I just started wearing them about a year ago and I definitely think they add a nice touch to my style during the right occasions!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *