It may surprise you to learn that cufflinks, or some type of sleeve accessory, have been in use for hundreds of years. We first started to see the prototype of today’s shirt appear in the early sixteenth century. Originally the cuffs of these shirts would have been kept together using cuff strings. Simple strings that would tie the cuffs on the shirt together. These cuff strings would remain popular all the way up until the nineteenth century. Louis XIV would be the ruler during the time when we first started see sleeve buttons, the real forerunner to the modern cufflinks. In this time a pair of sleeve buttons would consist typically of colored glass buttons joined by a short silk rope.
During this time many of the royal families would have cufflinks made to mark large special occasions. Overtime the cufflink evolved and became more intricate. Today cufflinks are designed to be used with button-less shirts. Typically the shirt will only have two holes, one of each of the cuffs. They can be used with single length cuffs or french cuffs, which are doubled length cuffs. Cufflinks can be worn in many manners including «kissing» and «barrel-style». The barrel-style of wearing cufflinks became popular in the 19th century. Popularized by Dan Rice, a nineteenth century entertainer, the barrel-style became very popular by today the kissing style is still preferred by most.
The design of the cufflink today can vary widely. Cufflinks are made out of many materials. Many cufflinks combine materials to create very unique styles. Today we see cufflinks made out of enamel, glass, titanium, tungsten, steel, silk, copper, bronze, and plastics. This wide range of materials allows us to create truly unique styles for any persons taste. Cufflinks can take many shapes as well from round, to square, to rectangular, to triangular. Some of the more unique recent designs feature a rounded cufflinks with an overlayed domed enamel. This overlay allows the cufflink to be inlaid with a variety of photos or customized messages. With the laser engraving technology of today it is also to engrave cufflinks. Even small areas are able to be engraved with minute precision. The amount of customization cufflinks can have today is a massive change from cufflinks seen even five years ago. More traditional cufflinks come monogrammed with your persona initials.
No matter what your preference of cufflink style is there is no denying that the right pair of cufflinks is the best way to give an otherwise droll suit and shirt a unique sense of style. Due to their size you are more free to make more bold decisions, opposed to a tie which is a major part of the suit. You might find that once you get your first cufflinks that you cannot stop collecting them. Luckily cufflinks today are rather inexpensive and widely available. Many retail stores carry at least some type of cufflinks but the internet has exploded with thousands of styles and choices with cut-throat pricing.
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