man in a blue tuxedo smoking a cigar with his back to a river with text overlay that reads how to wear cufflinks

How to Wear Cufflinks and French Cuffs

In the world of sartorial mastery, many men have learned how to wear a suit — that’s like playing X’s and O’s. Many could also name off what makes a tuxedo so unique, or the differences between slacks and dress pants — that’s like playing checkers. However, when it comes to understanding how to wear cufflinks, we’re now in chess territory. Much like chess, learning the basics only takes a few minutes, but learning the strategies to become a master player can take years of practice.

Knowing How To Use Cufflinks is Simple

When it comes down to learning how to wear cufflinks, much like chess, the part about it taking a long time to master can scare off the timid. Often, people assume that even the most basic moves of chess are complicated, and never bother to try because of it. The same is true of cufflinks.

We thought we’d get back to basics. We want to offer a simple set of instructions for how to wear cufflinks before we send you off. Armed with the basics, you’ll feel more confident when you try your hand at making them a part of your outfit, practice and eventually become a master. Before we get to that, however, let’s briefly go over the situations where cufflinks are called for.

When to Wear Cufflinks

crop of a man's hands wearing a tuxedo and holding a champagne bottle

Cufflinks are, at their baseline, a fashion tool for fastening French cuffs closed on a dress shirt. Much like a traditional shirt cuff button, the only difference being that cufflinks are removable, thus separate entities.

Cufflinks are most recognizably associated with eveningwear or black tie, with ensembles including the tuxedo and a French-cuffed shirt. However, they’re not only meant to be worn with semi-formal to formal outfits — ignore any “rules” you see. They’re perfectly fine as an addition to your work rotation and are a subtle and refined way to introduce more accessories into your office style.

What You’ll Need

a folded white tuxedo shirt next to a crop of the same shirt with silver bar cufflinks next to the silver bar cufflinks on white background

Before you master learning how to wear cufflinks effectively, you’ll need a couple of things – a pair of cufflinks (start with something simple like a classic metal knot design) and a dress shirt with French cuffs or convertible cuffs (more on that below).

French Cuffs vs Convertible Cuffs

Dress shirts with French cuffs are the most appropriate option for black tie events and require cufflinks to pair. In fact, French cuffs do not have buttons sewn onto them at the cuff and so cufflinks are a must when wearing such a shirt. French cuffs are double layered (they’re essentially extra long and a certain amount of the cuff is folded back to create an extra thick (and stiff) cuff.

There’s also a lesser-known dress shirt option that can pair with cufflinks – the convertible cuff. Convertible cuffs are what they sound like, convertible between the traditional single-layered barrel cuff (the typical kind that you button) and having an extra buttonhole adjacent to the fastening button to accommodate cufflinks.

Clasp, Double Sided or Silk Knot Cufflinks

Clasp cufflinks are the most traditional as they’re easy to use and are simply inserted through the opening and closed together. Double-sided cufflinks are typically smaller and lighter weight and are distinguished by the fixed backing being the same material as the front. Silk knot cufflinks are made of yarn and more affordable but seen as the most casual option.

top row: two images each a crop of a man's hands each in a french cuff and a convertible cuff shirt. bottom row: three images showing a pair of silk knots, clasp cufflinks that resembles a compass, and a double sided golden barbell cufflinks

How to Wear Cufflinks With a French Cuff Shirt

Step 1:
Fold the cuff back over (to create the double layered cuff) so that the cufflink buttonholes line up. Since the cuff is folded back to create a double-layered cuff (as described above), there should be four buttonholes that are being lined up.

Step 2:
Push the back of the cufflink through the holes. This means that the front of the cufflinks (commonly the side with an adorned shape or design), is at the bottom of your wrist when it’s secured and is facing away from your body when your arms are at your sides. If the cufflinks are double-sided, this is your last step. If the cufflinks are the more common, clasp type, continue to…

Step 3:
Close the clasp to secure the cufflink in place.

series of images showing how to wear cufflinks with a french cuff shirt

How to Wear Cufflinks With a Convertible Cuff Shirt

Step 1:
Leaving shirt cuff unbuttoned, pull both pieces of fabric out flat so that the cufflink holes line up.

Step 2:
Like with the French cuffs, push the back of the cufflink through the holes. Once again, if the cufflinks are double-sided, you’re done. If the cufflinks are the more common, clasp type, continue to…

Step 3:
Close the clasp to secure the cufflink in place.

series of images showing how to wear cufflinks with a convertible cuff shirt

How to Wear Silk Knot Cufflinks

Step 1:
Fold the cuff over so that the cufflink holes line up.

Step 2:
Push the back of the cufflink through the holes. Since silk knot cufflinks are, by nature, double-sided, you’re finished. Note that silk knot cufflinks have a bit more friction against your buttonhole due to its material and may require you to insert the knot into one buttonhole at a time.

series of images showing how to put on a silk knot cufflinks


Now you know the basics of how to wear cufflinks — easier than chess, right? And although you may still be a rook(ie) you’ve at least learned the opening moves in this game of style, and now all it takes is some practice. Now go forth and start building your cufflink collection; with each new pair, be sure to try a new style – from the classics down to the novelty styles – and remember to have fun along the way.

Have any other questions you need to be answered? Drop a comment below and we’ll make sure to (cuff)link-up with an answer!