For the conservative man, there are few avenues through which to express personal style. Ties have always been an easy one, and, now, socks are becoming a new form of individual expressions. But when it comes to jewelry, the options have always been fairly limited: pocket watches, rings, tie bars, and, of course, cufflinks.
Though cufflinks have been around since the early 1900s, they still add modern flair to French cuffs (those are the kind without the buttons). Cufflinks picked up steam in the 1950s when men started wearing more than one accoutrement at a time (look for vintage tiebar/cufflink sets at pawn shops throughout Northern Virginia); as desire for fashion increased, more styles and designs for cufflinks became available. The trend cooled a bit in the laid-back seventies, when cuffs with buttons eliminated the need for cufflinks—but not for long. By the eighties, men were once again interested in the style and they’re remained popular since.
Cufflink design is not just determined by what’s in the front but in how the link fastens to the cuff: knot, stud, ball, chain, whale, or bullet backs are all options. And front designs range from the serious to the silly and novel: think of cufflinks as men’s counterparts to ladies’ earrings. If you can imagine it, it probably exists.