Cufflinks for men have been around for hundreds of years. They date back to the early 16th century in France when the sleeves of a shirt were linked together with pieces of string in order to stop them flapping about. Over the years, these developed into what the French called “boutons de manchette” or sleeve buttons which were a pair of coloured baubles held together with a small chain.
The coloured baubles were then substituted with real gemstones which, rather obviously, only the rich could afford. This continued for many years until the arrival of the Industrial Revolution towards the end of the 17th century when it became simple to replace the gemstones with metal or glass faces (the part showing outwards on the cuff) and which were a lot cheaper to produce. At last, cufflinks were available to the man in the street.
At the same time, the chains that connected the two faces were replaced by simple rods and clips. As the cufflinks became more affordable, men of all classes began to buy these small decorative works of art, and that has continued to this day.
Since that time, cufflinks have had their ups and downs, especially since, in the 20th century, shirt manufacturers began to mass produce their shirts with plastic buttons on the cuffs. However, in recent years, the cufflink has made a comeback as men realised that not only were these little treasures works of art, but they could also be used to make a statement about the wearer in much the same way that a woman might wear a brooch. Of course, while a brooch is purely for decorative purposes, cufflinks also provide a useful function.
Different Fixing Methods
There are different types of cufflinks produced today with different methods of fixing. The most common is what is known as the bullet back, which has a front face with the design, colour, stone, or whatever else, on it and faces outward on the cuff. This is attached to a post of two prongs which at the other end has a toggle in the shape of a bullet that turns through 90°. In order to attach the cufflink, the toggle is turned parallel to the post. This is then pushed through both holes in the cuff and the toggle is simply turned back through 90°. Hey presto! The cuffs are linked!
Another version is the whaleback cufflink which has a solid post with a toggle in the shape of a whale’s tail attached at the other end. It works in the same way – turn the toggle through 90°, push through both holes, and turn it back again.
If you prefer a more traditional style, you can still get chain link cufflinks with two faces linked with a chain as before. If there are two faces, they can both have a pattern on them, or there can be one face with a simple blank fixing on the other end of the chain.
There are also stud, or button, cufflinks with two faces joined by a solid post, one of the faces being pushed through the holes in both cuffs. These are somewhat more difficult to put on, of course.
In addition, there are ball return cufflinks which have a solid, curved post with a small stud on the inside end which is pushed through both holes in the same way as the button cufflinks.
As well as those, you can also still buy silk knot cufflinks which, as the name suggest, are made of coloured silk and knotted at each end. You push one knot through both holes. These are dirt cheap – maybe £5.00 – but they don’t last forever. However, they do provide the wearer with a choice of colours.
You can also buy personalised cufflinks in the UK. Some producers will manufacture cufflinks to your own design if you wish, although there will obviously be a minimum order quantity. Other producers will provide engraving facilities. So, for example, they may produce cufflinks with a blank face in a range of colours and then engrave the face with whatever you want – your initials, date of birth, dog’s name, or anything else that you wish.
So, you might want to own a pair of personalised silver cufflinks, or even gold, with your chosen engraving on the face. For instance, if your name is Richard, you could have a pair of silver cufflinks with the words “I’m Rich” on the face! Anything for a laugh, but maybe some would consider that to be extreme!