Can You Wear Cufflinks with Any Shirt?

If you are considering purchasing cufflinks for an important man in your life, you may want to understand what cufflinks are for and how exactly they are worn. Believe it or not, cufflinks cannot be worn with any shirt. Read below for more information on cufflinks and how to wear them properly.

Where Did Cufflinks Come From?

Early forms of cufflinks were created sometime in the 17th century.  Before cufflinks, cuffs of shirts were held together by strings or ribbons.  As shirt styles changed over time, so did the way to hold the shirt’s cuffs together.  As a stitched hole was added to the cuffs of a shirt, tailors would attach two ornamental buttons that were connected with a chain. This style quickly became popular with the upper classes, and jewelers started to create these sleeve buttons in silver and gold with gemstone embellishments and intricate designs.

As time went on, more and more jewelers and companies began to make cufflinks and eventually, they began to be mass produced.  As fashions began to change and evolve, the double cuff style shirt, influenced by the French, became popular.  This style of shirt is meant to be worn with cufflinks.  By 1924, the Boyer fastener system was invented, which is the modern style of what we know a cufflink to be today.  This style has two ornamental buttons connected by a small bar or thick string.  The buttons can be seen on the outside of each cuff while the bar or string holds them together, effectively holding together the cuffs.

Modern cufflinks can be made from a variety of materials, such as leather, enamel, metal, glass, stone, gold, silver, platinum and more. They come in many different shapes and sizes as well too, as men have different preferences. Cufflinks can be extremely fancy or more casual depending on the design and materials they are made from.

Unfortunately, as people grew to want things to be more convenient, the shirt with a French cuff became less popular.  It was replaced by the button cuff shirt that we see much more commonly today. Button cuff shirts are not meant to be worn with cufflinks.

Types of Cufflinks

As previously mentioned, cufflinks come in many styles, shapes, and sizes.  Believe it or not, there are many variations of cufflinks, and each has its own unique properties. A traditional cufflink has a large head, like a decorative button, with a post in the middle and a toggle at the opposite end.  Below are a few popular cufflink styles described.

Whale Back Cufflinks

Whale Back Cufflinks have a flat head, a straight post, and a toggle that flips completely flat against the post.  This configuration is where it gets the name “Whale Back” because it looks like a whale tail when it is in the closed position.

Stud or Button Style Cufflinks

Stud or button style cufflinks do not have a toggle or hinge mechanism for their closure.  Instead, they have a another smaller head on the opposite side that holds the cuffs in place.  This smaller head typically tilts so that it can fit through the button hole.  Once it is through, it is then straightened out to lock it into place.

Chain Link Cufflinks

These type of cufflinks typically have two identical heads that are connected by a small chain instead of a bar or post. This style is popular with those who like a looser fitting cuff as the chain allows for more space around the wrist.

Knot Cufflinks

Knot cufflinks are typically made of soft fabric, like cord or silk.  Both ends are tied into intricate and decorative knots that simply slip through both button holes.  This is typically a more casual cufflink style.

What Kind of Shirt Do You Need to Wear Cufflinks?

Now that most men wear a shirt with a button cuff, there is not a high demand for cufflinks.  Some men, however, own both types of shirts, and wear shirts with French cuffs for more formal occasions. If cufflinks are something that you’d like to wear, you need to own or purchase a shirt with French cuffs.  It will look like a normal button-down shirt, but there will be open button holes on the cuffs and they will not be connected. Many stores may not have shirts with French cuffs readily available—you may have to order one in advance. If you can’t find a shirt with a French cuff, ask a sales associate where you are shopping and they will direct you.

How to Add Cufflinks to Your Shirt

Once you do have the proper shirt in your possession, you must learn how to attach your cufflinks correctly. No matter what style of cufflinks you decide to go with, fastening them to your shirt generally takes the same steps. Putting cufflinks on is a lot easier if you have someone there to help you as it is more difficult to accomplish with only one hand.

First, put on the shirt and button it up completely.  It easier to apply cufflinks if the shirt is on your body properly. Next, move the toggle into the “open” position so that it is in more of a straight line and can slide through the button holes easily. Once the cufflink is ready, pinch the two cuffs together and line up the button holes on each side.  Once they are lined up, slide the cufflink through both holes, making sure that the ornamental and decorative part of the cufflink is facing outwards and not inwards towards the body. When the cufflink is through both holes, turn the toggle so that it catches and holds the cuffs together.  You may have to do a little adjusting for comfort and to make sure that the head of the cufflink is straight.  When this process is done, repeat all the above steps to add the second cufflink to the cuffs on the other arm of your shirt.