When I sent my last piece to Will I included a postscript saying I’d try to make future posts less tl:dr, “tl:dr” being one of the many rejoinders people on the internet use to tell each other that the writer's capacity for words exceeds the reader’s capacity for attention. Another, of course, is the terse “cool story bro” in response to someone’s meaningless tangent. Here is another of my tangents about something meaningless that might promise a cool story. Bro.
I’m partial to the ancient Charvet silver knot cufflinks lying on top of the pile in the photo. If I’m wearing a French-cuffed shirt, they’re usually the first pair I grab. I find them even more versatile than the silk knot cufflinks on which they’re based. Knot cufflinks in silver don’t require color coordination, very helpful before those first several coffees. And the knot design is simple enough that you could wear them without a coat or tie without looking conspicuous, the way you might wearing semiprecious cufflinks of a different design.
Silk knots, of course, are one of the many minor miracles of dressing well. They’re cheap, easy to wear and kind of fun. You can get them in the ASW store and indeed in any shop with pretensions to sell to men who care about clothes, so in Brooks Brothers but not in Men’s Wearhouse. Silk knot links can be dressed down or up, and can go with any shirt or tie pattern or color combination, provided you have them in a complementary color. They’re informal but insouciant, the only cufflink style I’d recommend wearing without coat and tie – and following the early noughties trend for dressy shirts in business casual workplaces, enough of us do wear French cuff shirts around without coat and tie. They can also pass muster worn with a suit as well. While we generally refer to them as silk knots, they’re actually usually rubber or nylon, which are more elastic and more durable than real silk ribbon, which only Charvet still seems to use.
In fact, Charvet allegedly invented the silk knot link, which is another reason I’m partial to these. Of course, I can’t recall where I read that they invented knotted cufflinks and it oughtn’t to matter, except on that suggestible mental plane endemic to dreamers and collectors. Whether or not Charvet invented knot cufflinks, their silk knots are like no one else’s today because they use real silk. It’s smoother and noticeably more delicate. Their shop offers silk knots in every color of the rainbow and several shades beyond, including sparkly metallic silks and Technicolor snow. However, like a high-maintenance partner, Charvet silk knots are gorgeous but prone to unraveling or even, rather traumatically, their heads popping off if they get too old and brittle.
Decapitation isn’t a risk with knot cufflinks made out of metal. You can get metal knot cufflinks from a variety of sources at any range of prices, from simple steel to, I’m sure, solid gold. Just don’t cop out and get single-sided ones with a toggle in the back. Even at the best of times, those T-bar things are tacky and don’t do a good job keeping your links from slipping out of your shirt. Go the extra mile and get links that resemble the double-sided knots they’re based on.
Carrying that mimesis even further, looking closely we see these cufflinks actually feature ribbing on the knots, just like real silk knots have. I haven’t seen this on other metal knot links. It’s another detail amusing to me. I also like how worn these are. They may at one point have been vermeil (gold plate over silver). If so, that coating has worn over time, but they still give off the odd gilded glint now and then. I even like the small gouges in the stems that occurred at some point before I got them. At this point, some reader might ask whether there’s a concern with matching metals among cufflinks, watch, belt buckle, hip plate, briefcase snap and whatever other implements over which he dithers before sallying forth. I must lack the necessary brain cells to over think that hard. Life’s too short.
While these silver knot links are vintage, Charvet still sells them at its home in Place Vendôme or through Couturelab.com. However, I try to wear something old every day, mixing it with the new. Even if I forget to, I’ll still end up reaching for these.
Text and photo by Réginald-Jérôme de Mans