Tradition says that a gentleman's jewelry consists of his wedding ring, watch, signet ring, and tie pin with but one exception. And that is his cuff links, the bits of color that by the end of the 19th century had replaced ribbons and bows as the principal method for closing one's shirt cuffs.
Today, the cuff link era appears to be drawing to a close. Except among English men who wear them with their town clothes, shirts around the world tend to be closed by inexpensive buttons. But, like the disappearance of other elegant members of the wardrobe from bow ties to spectator shoes, the rarity of the linked cuff is an opportunity to add a bit of discreet interest to the day's dress.
Photo: Drake's London
Perfectly attractive cuff links do not need to be expensive, for which I submit Exhibit A, the silk knot, which costs hardly more than a button but adds considerably more panache to the shirt cuff. And between the almost free silk knot and the steeply expensive realm of jewelry lies a fertile ground for other styles, such as Drake's sterling and glass examples in the photos.
I like to recommend that men who are visiting a shirtmaker for the first time begin their made to measure shirt wardrobes with a white or light blue dress shirt with turnback cuffs, and further indulge themselves with a starter pair of cuff links. It is an opportunity to add a touch of color to the cuffs.