Deconstructing: Cufflinks

The shirtsleeve fasteners are, arguably, the only style of jewellery that belongs exclusively to men

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Considered the mark of a “proper gentleman”, cufflinks have come a long way since men from royal and noble families tied the cuffs of their shirtsleeves together with strings, ruffles and ribbons in the 1500s.

Wider access to the cufflink can be attributed to the Industrial Revolution, the first mass-production platform of its kind. And its popularity among non-royals likely comes down to Baron Danglars, who sparked the envy of onlookers with "the enormous diamonds" that glittered in his buttonhole. The fictional character from The Count of Monte Cristo (1844), is thought to have inspired French tailors to introduce the distinguishing accessory for the dandies of the day. By the mid-19th century, almost everyone in the middle and upper classes wore cufflinks.

The temporary downfall of the cufflink as an everyday wearable can be attributed to shirts that came with attached buttons and the return of the unstarched cuff. By the 1920s, cufflinks were mainly associated with wedding and formal wear, although designers began taking more creative risks. The plain metal link gave way to pairs with gemstones as well as myriad shapes, including horseshoes, flowers, anchors and various animal and bird faces and figurines.

Fashion-savvy men have embraced the cufflink to style up both office and evening wear looks, sporting them with or without a jacket, and even with a shirt and a pair of shorts. Brands such as Alexander McQueen, Burberry, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Salvatore Ferragamo have dabbled in them, while seventh-generation company Francis & Deakin recently released a drone cufflink with moveable parts. The design and customisation choices, too, are endless. From race cars and top hats to guitars and golf bags, you can now express facets of your personality through cufflinks.


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