An often heard saying is that cufflinks are the only jewelry a man can wear next to his watch and although I don’t agree with that statement, these little accessories are my favorite pieces of jewelry.
One of the questions I often get at my Instagram account is, when can cufflinks be worn and when not. Well, the answer to the question ‘when’ is very personal and depends on your style, what kind of work you’re doing, and what you’re planning to do that day. The question when cufflinks should not be worn is easy to answer; only at funerals no one should wear cufflinks and everyone should be dressed as low key as possible. Watches, cufflinks, and any other kind of jewelry should absolutely stay home, that day.
Should you only have a white shirt with double cuffs, then the well-known silk knots in black are the way to go, and these little knots will look good and tasteful with your dark suit, without asking for attention.
Cufflinks are my daily style signifier, even more so than my watch and I wear them not only with a suit but actually more often in combination with a sports coat and chinos. I have to admit that in mid Summer I am more a man for Polo shirts. Cufflinks, at least in my opinion, complete your outfit, be it chic or be it casual, they can show a bit more of who you are and how you look at daily things in life.
Men that wear cufflinks can be roughly decided in two groups; the one watch guy, that wears his Calatrava or Breguet Tradition with pride and on a daily basis, usually paired with his pair of cufflinks and second, the man that prefers to have a collection of different pairs, not only to suit his wardrobe but also to fit the occasion.
If you’re a one watch guy, that usually sticks to his watch for many years without the need of having a cufflink collection, it is important to select a good pair of links that can be worn every day, no matter where you’re going to. So these links should be pretty discreet and not too eye-catching.
In case of the Calatrava wearer the Calatrava Cross links, make a perfect match with the buckle of the watch and they’re serene enough to go everywhere. Bvlgari has the same kind of option and Chopard even has steel links to match their Mille Miglia, while Piaget has a classic and pretty sporty pair for their Aliplano watch. These hardly branded, but still, recognizable cufflinks are very tasteful.
But be aware and don’t go for models with the brand logos, unless you’re the marketing manager of that brand.
A completely other world is one of the collectors, the man with several watches and a collection of different links from the various brands. These gents are more fanatic of what they wear and even more when. For daily use to the office, management meetings, and traveling, a few good pairs of silver cufflinks are often his choice
And in this price category, there is a huge range of good solutions from large brands like Cartier, Tiffany’s, Dunhill, and others. Next to that, the collector has a few pairs fo gold cufflinks to complement his gold Tank watch or Breguet Tradition. And there is a huge choice these days. For free time, dinner parties, and going out with friends, the design of the links can be more outspoken and could be an eye-catcher, like the ‘Panther Heads’, or ‘Juste un Clou’ links. But care should be taken not to select the too funny models, like a hockey-stick, a pair of computer keys, or a little gun with diamonds. They may make you laugh when they’re presented to you for the first time, but they’re absolutely not stylish to wear regular.
Barbarulo from Napels, a favorite of mine, is a brand that absolutely needs to be mentioned. This small Italian Maison, which dates back to 1894, has a stunning and quite unique collection of affordable silver designs, discreet models, as well as very creative good looking rosette kinda models with coral. About 50% of their production is done in their shop in Napels and the other half of the collection is made in their workshop just outside of Naples. The Barbarulo collection shows that Italians have great taste when it comes to men’s fashion, and the owner Christiano Barbarulo is a living example of what is a style all about.
Barbarulo is not widely available and it is probably easier, also to have the largest choice, to order online from their website. The brand even has an option to make a custom pair to your liking. In a follow-up article, exclusive about Barbarulo, we will talk more specifically about how Christiano Barbarulo sees his collection and how new models and special orders come to life.
When shopping for a pair of cufflinks, be it an affordable model in silver or a pair of exclusive 18K gold cufflinks, pay attention to the total design of the link and don’t concentrate only on the front side. The back of the link, or the closure as it’s often called, should be as attractive as the front, since it is as visible, especially for your dinner partner. Unfortunately, even luxury brands often choose the easy way out and opt for a simple, standard, and boring looking flip mechanism. A system like that could also look a lot better. Barbarulo has a good example of that and they use a tastefully designed whale-shaped version, on some of their creations.
There are brands, and Cartier, for instance, is a good example, that sometimes uses ball-ends, (pictured above) which look very smart. Personally I prefer such a solution to the ordinary flip mechanism, but they don’t give the same security.
Summertime is for many people maybe not exactly the period to wear a shirt with cuffed sleeves and cufflinks. So use these hot months to select what style you like, and how chic or how eye-catching they should be, to fit your style. That will make the selection a lot easier when you’re on the hunt for your first or maybe next pair of stylish cufflinks.