Last week I overheard someone demand double (or French) cuffs on their shirt. Apparently anything else would have looked cheap. Yet it is a trend that has only grown in London over the past ten years. Doubtless it was a easy way for shirtmakers to suggest they had superior shirts – an extra little touch like collars with two or even three buttons.
Bizarrely, these shirts are often sold as Italian; or in Italian lines from high-street shops. Yet the Italians have always worn a single cuff, dismissing the double cuff as French and foppish. Some of this attitude may also derive from the fact that Italians would wear their dress shirts with greater flexibility, at different times of the day and week – with a sweater on a week day, under a casual jacket at the weekend. A single cuff is more practical here (easier to wear under a sweater, a little too fussy for the weekend). The City businessman who only wears it with a grey suit during the week does not have this problem.
The Italian traditionally also likes his cuff tight to the wrist, as his sleeve is tighter and his armhole higher. But more of that elsewhere.