Cufflinks are a very small embellishment that can make a considerable impact to one’s appearance. Cufflinks provide an opportunity for a man to put a personalized spin on a basic shirt providing an uncomplicated way to upgrade and personalize his look.
Prior to the invention of the cufflink, in the 1500s, prominent men wore shirts with ruffled wrist. They tied the bottom of the ruffled wristband together with strings. The fashion was called “String tied”.
This style became very popular and in the 1700’s the string was replaced with a gold or silver linked chain attached to small, glass bead like button. Over time the glass beads were replaced with more decorative buttons made of semi precious jewels and diamonds.
Historians document that the cufflink was made popular due to the writings of Alexander Dumas, who wrote The Count of Monte Cristo. In the story there was a character in the book who wore enormous diamonds on his shirt cuffs that sparked great envy in everyone who looked on it. This elevated the perception of cufflinks to be associated with a higher social status.
The Industrial Revolution brought the ability to produce items of clothing more cheaply and the gold and silver chains were replaced with a rod and clip. This opened the market place to allow men from all walks of life to now wear cufflinks.
By the end of the twentieth century, men’s shirts were now being massed produced with buttons on the cuffs which lead to the decline in men wearing cufflinks.
Cufflinks have always had an association with luxury and the royal aristocratic society, where it was custom to not purchase cufflinks for one’s self but instead they were given as gifts on special occasions. This tradition continues today, as set of cufflinks is often given as a groomsman’s gift at a wedding.