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What’s up your sleeve? The Great Cuff-link vs Button Debate
14 Feb 2017
Henry Kissinger once opined that academic arguments were so much more vicious than their real-world counterparts because the stakes were so small. Whilst we wouldn’t say that the question of how best to stop one’s shirt cuff flapping about was exactly academic, we will reluctantly concede that in terms of importance the cufflink vs button furore ranks below questions of geopolitics and global thermonuclear war. We will also point out that Kissinger was very much a cuff-link man. Make of the fact what you will. On one hand, there’s a lot to be said for a cufflink. There’s the reassuring solidity of the well-ironed double cuff through which it’s threaded, and then there’s the subtle implication that one has made a little bit of an effort. Also – though we’d be loathe to admit thinking too hard about it – it’s nice to pop on a pair with which we’re particularly pleased: ‘Just what Richard Burton would have chosen,’ we reassure ourselves before slipping on our coat and heading out. No buttons on our shirt cuffs thank-you-very-much. ‘What are we? Animals?’ On the other hand, the buttoner will, on encountering the one in the wild, judge the cufflinkist equally quickly, harshly and irreversibly. With his self-conscious assertion that he can’t see what’s wrong with a good, old-fashioned button, he’ll tell himself (and anyone who’ll listen) that he’s a man of simple tastes, trustworthy and straight-talking, and that anyone who wears cufflinks is clearly a wrong ‘un, a ghastly posing popinjay, a slippery customer who’s not to be trusted alone with the ladies. We’d argue that there’s room in the wardrobe for both. Certainly there’s the convenience and implicit modesty (however false!) of a buttoned cuff. Then again, there are times – weddings, dinners and presidential inaugurations for example - when the subtle glint of a well-judged link could hardly me more appropriate.