Cufflinks date back as far as the early 1500’s when they were worn by royalty and other men of high standing. Each pair was made individually and to order and would be studded with rare gems and stones or contain intricate coloured patterns. They were meant to emphasize that the wearer was a man of importance, and they succeeded in doing exactly that. These were not for the common man – the hoi polloi.
However, with the coming of the Industrial Revolution in the mid 1800’s all that changed. It now became easy to mass-produce cufflinks and they became available to the middle classes who flocked to buy them since they were now also affordable. Very few shirts were made with an attached button because of the fashion for starched cuffs. It was very difficult to get a button through the hole in a starched cuff, so cufflinks were all the rage.
Cufflinks remained in fashion until the early 1900’s when the Duke of Windsor greatly influenced male fashion, and he was rather casual in the way that he dressed. Furthermore, in the early 1920’s, the starched shirt cuff had gone out of fashion with the arrival of the sports shirt, so cuff links were no longer needed. Cufflinks became associated with formal wear for dinners and theatre visits.
Cufflinks today are certainly not so popular as they were in the late 1800’s, but nonetheless very many men still wear them. Perhaps not as many as wear the button cuff, but this can partly be put down to convenience and ease of use. A button cuff has the button already there, so there is no need to purchase cufflinks. It takes less time to button a cuff than it does to put cufflinks through, so it is easier to do. It also saves on the cost of cufflinks.
Despite that, there are very many men today who do use cufflinks and they are largely men of importance – company directors, MP’s, senior accountants, and many more at the tops of their professions – because they want to project a look which says that they are outstanding, and at the same time most of them recognise that looking smart is important and also shows respect to the people with whom they work, or their customers when they visit them. These are people who would never dream of going to the office in jeans and a T-shirt, although times have become very relaxed about dress in some quarters and there are some people who do.
The choice of cufflinks can also say an awful lot about the wearer. So for example, when going to a formal dinner party or perhaps a board meeting one would not wear cufflinks with a brash design on them (and there are plenty of those available, such as cufflinks in the shape of beer mugs, horseshoes, traffic lights, and all sorts of different designs) but rather wear cufflinks with a more restrained and distinguished look to them. When you want people to respect you, it is essential that you show them respect first.
To get an idea of just how many different designs of cufflinks there are, simply go online and search for cufflinks. Google comes up with no less than 190,000,000 results. So clearly there is still great demand for cufflinks, despite the rather lax attitude about dress in some quarters. Men who just want to go to their place of work and get a pay cheque at the end of the month are happy to do so in causal clothes, which many employers allow today. However, those who want to get ahead and get to the top know that they have to look the part.
Cufflinks are available in a huge range of styles and designs, and a very popular design incorporates something concerning your ethnicity – the country to which you belong. So you can get English cufflinks, Scottish ones, Welsh, Irish, Spanish cufflinks, US cufflinks, Canadian cufflinks, all containing something pertinent to the particular country.
USA cufflinks, for example, are made showing the American Eagle, the Statue of Liberty, the Bald Eagle’s Head, and even the National Football League among others. English ones show the English Oak, Welsh ones the Welsh Dragon, Irish ones the Shamrock, and so on. So you can look the part while at the same time displaying your respect for your country of birth.