Words by Will Boehlke
Photo by Réginald-Jérôme de Mans
There were cufflinks before there were buttons on the ends of shirt sleeves, and at least one white shirt in every closet should be designed to take them today. That being one's evening shirt of course, for a single plain button looks rather, well, pedestrian at night. The links used on that shirt may be inexpensive rubber cuff knots, which should be replaced at the earliest opportunity with something plain in 14 or 18kt gold. Plain of course, for the wearer needs a first pair that can be worn without being particularly memorable for the same reason that the first suit in a wardrobe should be a dark solid. And gold because it is the gentleman's metal, untarnishable and always correct.
The basics achieved, there is no limit to the number of cufflinks that a man can collect over time, with the caveat that jewelry never wears out and those sterling silver penguin links that looked so enticing once upon a time are with us long after we have stopped wearing them. The most important thing about building a cufflink wardrobe is that new acquisitions should always be of first quality, starting with that initial pair.
That said, there is a stopping point at which one can rest along the way, and that is a medium wardrobe consisting of one dinner set (shirt studs and links) and five pair of links in addition to that basic pair of gold. The six link wardrobe allows for one pair each day of the week with one to spare, and that ought to be plenty of variety. Not to mention a stopping point occurring as it should well before one's cufflink box represents more investment than a small motorcar. I find in fact that I rarely wear more than a couple styles over the course of a week of French cuffed shirts.
Past that point, in my opinion, a man could start looking around for a second dress set to give himself some variety should he find himself dressing for dinner a couple of times in a week. If his first set is onyx backing a colorless stone like RJ's in the photo, his second might be ruby red, which I find works better with black and white than most of the alternatives. His cufflink requirements however are met, and further collecting is for the sheer collecting of it.