We don’t spend nearly as much time on shirt cuffs as we ought to. But as they say, the devil’s in the details. A cuff acts as a system of closure on a shirt from the sleeves to the wrist and distinguishes a formal dress shirt from a casual one. “They are important to taper down the excess from the forearm to the wrist and also bring a certain design element to the shirt,” said renowned tailor Kevin Seah.
When choosing a cuff, it all boils down to your personal sense of style, and the occasion for which you’re wearing the shirt. For Seah, his preference is a classic single button 3″ barrel cuff (more on barrel cuffs below). Others might prefer a mitered cuff for a more elegant look, but no one can deny the polished formality of a French cuff.
Keep on reading for your guide to shirt cuffs.
(Illustrations by Nadine Christmas)
The French cuff is the most formal cuff anyone could wear. Also called the double cuff, it is seen primarily on dress shirts and is normally paired with tuxedos. To fasten the cuffs, pair them with cufflinks (more below). Avoid a sartorial faux pas by making sure you are wearing a blazer if you decide to wear French cuffs.
The convertible cuff is the best-kept secret amongst frequent fliers. You can wear it as a standard barrel cuff, or switch it up and wear it French-cuff style. This is possible because both flaps of the cuff have a buttonhole, so they can accommodate cufflinks too. Which makes it one less shirt to bring for the business traveller.
Cufflinks are a symbol of personal style, said Seah. When attending a formal black-tie event, he recommends a more discreet pair of silver cufflinks. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to make a power play, opt for something bejewelled to highlight your personality. Take note: Your cufflinks should complement your outfit, not stand out like a ruby in a sea of emeralds.
Also no, this pair of Lifestyle Asia cufflinks is not for sale… yet.