This is the second in our series looking at style aspects of shirts.

As with the previous one – on shirt collars – it will focus on sensible advice, rather than illustrating the myriad gimmicks with which menswear seems to be particularly plagued.

There is one really fundamental choice when you’re picking the cuff for a shirt: single or double. 

 

 

The double cuff

The double, or French cuff was very fashionable 12 years ago, when this website started. It was rare to even see a single cuff in the City for many years. But then, it was also the era of Mad Men and tie clips, so perhaps that was at the root. 

Today, double cuffs are rarer, both because the fashion has faded and because they are more formal than a single cuff. 

A double cuff is formal because it folds over, hiding the seam at its end. As with black tie trousers, hiding a seam makes things smoother, and is therefore seen as more formal. 

That’s great with a suit, or even a smart jacket, but it looks out of place with a woollen blazer or knitwear. That Mad Men era also saw a lot of men wearing the same double-cuffed shirts to the office on a Friday, with chinos. If the smart material or spread collar didn’t tell you this was a mismatched shirt, the cuffs and cufflinks certainly did. 

The thing is, single cuffs also look fine with most suits, so they are much more versatile – from worsted to woollen to weekend. It’s understandable that they are becoming much more prevalent, even if dress codes weren’t also tending towards casual. 

I’d still encourage readers to have a double-cuffed shirt or two in the wardrobe though. It’s a nice change, and a nice excuse to wear cufflinks – which are, after a watch and a wedding ring, probably still the only universal way for a man to wear jewellery.

 

 

Styles of double cuff

There are a few different types of double cuff, principally depending on whether the corners are rounded, angled, or square (see above). 

As with much in this area, there’s no real harm in the first two options, but also not much to say on their behalf. If you like them and want to wear them, fine.

But if you start showing them off, or describe them as your ‘style signature’, then you’re focusing on the wrong things. Get into the subtleties of fit or cloth instead. 

I’d say the same thing about the cocktail cuff, confusingly referred to as both the Milanese and Neapolitan cuff by some sites.  

This is a folded-back cuff that leaves a triangular gap, allowing it to be fastened by buttons instead of a cufflink. I think the best you could say about it is that it’s nifty. At worst it’s a gimmick. Certainly, the fact that James Bond once wore it is not justification enough on its own. If it was, then sprayed-on suits from Tom Ford would be similarly legitimised.  

 

 

The single cuff

With the single cuff, there are also some small style choices – though I’d suggest the fit choices are more important. 

The style choices, as with a double cuff, include whether the protruding corners are rounded, angled or square. Here the rounded end is the default. There’s nothing wrong with the others if you like how they look. 

You can also have one, two or even three buttons on the cuff. Here my feelings are stronger. You don’t need more than one button, so why have them? Yes, we don’t need buttons on jacket sleeves either, but they’re a redundancy that’s slowly fading. With multiple cuff buttons you are needlessly adding redundancy.  

There may be a functional reason for some people to have multiple buttons. If there is, and I haven’t thought of it, forgive me. Otherwise just have one. 

Personally, I quite like the Italian style which places the single button low on the cuff, and close to its edge (below). This is sometimes called an open cuff.

Being lower allows the cuff to open more easily and the wrist to move with more freedom. The smaller overlap created by having the button closer to the edge helps too. 

 

 

Fit

The fit of a single cuff is trickier. 

There is a functional advantage to having it fitted close to the wrist: the sleeve can have some excess length, without the cuff ever slipping further down the hand. And it’s less likely to get pulled back when the arm is extended. Basically, it stays where it’s meant to be. 

The disadvantage of this is that you can’t fit a watch underneath. The same goes for the conical style of cuff, where it tapers noticeably towards the hand. It’s one reason Gianni Agnelli took to wearing his watch over the top of his cuff. 

(Not something I recommend, personally. Here Tom Ford puts it well: “I think ‘You poor thing’ if I see someone doing that. I did it in the late Seventies, but everyone did. Everyone who was affected and pretentious – as I was in that period of my life – would wear their Cartier Tank watches on top of their shirts because Agnelli did.”)

 

 

However, I find it’s possible to sacrifice little in terms of cuff performance, and fit a slim watch underneath. It’s something worth talking to your shirtmaker about – to get the right balance – but it’s not that hard. 

Of course, it’s trickier if you wear a big, chunky sports watch with your dress shirts. But thankfully that’s one more trend that seems to be fading away. 

Another option is to have one cuff larger than the other, so it can accommodate the watch while the other doesn’t have to. I used to do that, but found it irritating that the two functioned slightly differently. Particularly if for some reason I weren’t wearing a watch one day.

Of my watches, the only one that can be difficult to fit under a cuff is the IWC Portuguese. For those that will ask, by the way, my wrists are skinny at 15cm in circumference, and my shirt cuffs usually 20cm, so a good 5cm of clearance. 

Double cuffs are much easier, with most watches usually fitting underneath. But then, being smarter, if anything the watch is likely to be smaller and sleeker too. 

 

 

The novelties 

There are a few other permutations of shirt cuffs. 

There is the single cuff made to be fastened with a cufflink, rather like half of a French one (above). There is also the convertible cuff, which has a button that can be tucked inside, to allow you to use a cufflink instead if you wish. 

And there are cuffs with tabs that stretch from one side to the other, to fasten with a button. Why, I don’t know. 

All this criticism of unusual styles could sound boring – a suppression of expression. But it’s not intended to. 

Rather, it’s meant to redirect men’s interest away from novelties and towards more fundamental things: the broad, deep richness of cloth, the fine, intricate work of fit. 

People go for gimmicks because they are and easy. Understanding cloth, fit and drape is a lot harder, but in the end more rewarding. 

 

 

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Karol

Fair point about Bond. The whole “if X did it, it’s alright” makes my head hurt. As if good dressers, let alone movie characters whose wardrobes could be designed by different people, couldn’t make poor clothing choices. Bonus points when somebody uses “Take Ivy” as a benchmark of what is acceptable.

Wouter de Clerck

Nice article, Simon, thanks. Thumbs up for your (stern) advice to lose the gimmicks and keep it simple and subtle. Tell that to our Minister of Health who habitually wears pointy, shiny, multi-coloured dress shoes (only in the Netherlands).
On the issue of multiple buttons on a single cuff: I like to have two buttons on my dress shirt cuffs, but only use the upper one (closest to the elbow), which allows the cuff edges to move a bit, while at the same time staying closely fitted to the wrist. Added advantage is that you have a spare button to close your cuff if the other button snapped off.

REUVEN L LAX

I tend to do the same – two buttons, but only using one of them. This also allows room for a watch.

Glad I’m not the only one who was bothered by that, goodness.

Richard0812

Hi Simon
Having gone through the phases of RTW – MTM -Bespoke I can relate to your point about focusing on fit and material. However, I must also confess to taking a great enjoyment in wearing a double cuff. The choosing of cuff links, the smooth feeling across the wrist, a wonderful start to the day. Regrettably, I am still working from home so it is months since I have had the opportunity to wear a double cuff, but hopefully that will change soon.

Limekiln

Nice note, I agree with all. I used to like wearing cufflinks to customer meetings, I just felt properly dressed. But in a customer meeting you’re usually writing in your notebook and suddenly comes the big drawback. An uncomfortable clump under your wrist even with a more streamlined style of cufflink. But I made the sacrifice.
I thought that the convertible cuff was a nice idea, allowing one shirt for both formal/informal….and minimising the clump. But I never got round to getting one. With the uncertainty over face-to-face meetings I may never do.

Richard

A functional point about double cuffs which I don’t think was mentioned: if you type or write at a desk, they get in the way. I gave up wearing double cuffs to work because I type all day, interspersed with jotting handwritten notes, and single cuffs are the most comfortable for doing that. I briefly tried double cuffs overlapped like a single cuff, with chain cufflinks so that the cuff sits flat and the cufflink is unobtrusive, but it looked a bit odd, and it’s harder to find chain cufflinks.

Mark

The problem with wearing a jacket / coat at a desk and typing especially with a blue suit is it makes the arms go shiney much quicker. Learn from my mistake and treat your coat as a coat ie something to wear outside.

Anonymous

Am I right in thinking that the single cuff is largely reserved for white tie events or can it be used interchangeably with a double cuff?

Tim

I would argue its elegance lies in the fact that it is sleek, which is very fitting for the white tie look. I certainly think it looks better with my tailcoat than a double cuff.

Tim Fleming

Personally I think the elegance of a formal cuff, double or single link, is in the kissing sides and shaped corner that leads to the cuff link, not the fold of fabric. I don’t think those seams are noticed, just the crisp line of the fabric edge vs. a fold. Of course, this is only my opinion. I also feel the single link cuff is nicer all around since it’s lighter and more sleek, as mentioned above. Sometimes double cuffs made in a thicker material or thicker interlining make the cuff bulky and feel like a napkin is wrapped aorund the wrist. The one downside with the single link cuff is that most cuff links have a longer middle stem/chain that iare too large as they’re suited for double cuffs.

Burt

Interesting, thank you! Re: more than one button on a cuff. There are two buttons in a row on my shirts so as to vary the fit when with/without a watch. That was an idea the shirtmaker came up with.
When not wearing a watch you just use the 2nd button and the 1st button close to the edge is hidden.
Perhaps not that beautiful, but very practical.

Burt

That’s right. The two buttons are placed next to each other horizontally and without a gap in between. This enables you to vary the cuff width a little. When a wristwatch is worn you just use the button that is closest to the edge which makes for a loser fit. Perhaps half of the 2nd button will be visible if you take off your jacket, so mostly you won’t even see it. But it ensures a close fit with/without wristwatch.

david

This is what I usually request from shirtmakers (although most of them get it wrong). I think it’s an elegant solution, except maybe for the most formal shirts, and I like the fact that it’s a functional detail, like a jacket’s lapel you can actually fold back and button up.

Simon, could you add something about gauntlet buttons? I remember you said you tend not to have them.

david

Does that mean the placket (or opening) needs to be shorter, so it doesn’t gape?

Tim

The Late Frank Foster always claimed to have invented the cocktail cuff, and a few others too. He made Connery’s and Moore’s shirts.

He made me a couple of shirts with cocktail cuffs. I said I preferred a more normal size turnback rather than the cutaway as pictured on Connery. “Yes, yes, with button-down then” he said. The shirt arrived with full size fold back cuffs and a small button (the same size as a button on the collar of a button down shirt) in the back corner to stop the cuff flapping about.

It’s a beautiful detail.

Fernando

The reason I do two button conical cuff is because i like the wider cuff and i wear a watch as tall as a rolex and if I use one button recesed it looks weird on a wide cuff.
This design allows me to have both cuffs cut the same and in the left arm i leave the top button unbuttoned so the watch can fit beneath. If i don’t wear it i can button both buttons and the cuff still fits correctly.

Luke

“… by the way, my wrists are skinny at 15cm in circumference, and my shirt cuffs usually 20cm, so a good 5cm of clearance.”

Hi Simon,

These articles are great—thank you. It so happens that this week I have embarked on finally re-buttoning all my shirt cuffs, but am having trouble figuring out the best measurement to go with. My wrists measure 16.5cm in circumference at the widest point, i.e. over the bone. You meantion the size of your cuff (20cm), but I wonder what the circumference is when the button is fastened.

Ian F

Very interesting, as always. Two small points:

1. You mention a preference for the Italian style which has the button placed low on the cuff but the picture and text suggest it is higher than usual, moved away from the hand and in the direction of the top of the sleeve. You also mention in the comments above about a buttoning point lower down the wrists when I think it should be higher (unless you always have your hands in the air!). Not trying to be picky, just thinking of clarity. Maybe nearer to or further from the hand would be less open to misunderstanding (even if it is only me who misunderstands).

2. Have you any experience of, or views on detachable cuffs?

DE

Hi Simon, another good article explaining why ‘less is more’. I (like you) prefer very simple cuffs, but I tend to go for 2 button barrel. This is because I have a small wrist but wide hand and tend to find that single button cuffs gape somewhat or disappear from view. The 2 button barrel just gives me a neater cuff appearance where the cuff meets the sleeve of my jacket or jumper.

Ian

Hi DE & Simon,
Matt Spaiser over at The Suits of James Bond, as well as having a good deal to say about the cocktail cuff, thinks that two buttons is useful for square and angled single cuffs as it prevents the cuff “rotating” around a single button, and putting the straight edges of the cuff out of alignment with each other. A single button suits a round cuff as the curved edge means this going out of alignment will be less notable.

Ben R

Is the single cuff fastening with cufflink, as mentioned under Novelties, the cuff prescribed for a formal dress shirt for White Tie? That is what I have been told in the past. But your opinion would be appreciated.

Ben R

Oops… My browsers did not load the comments. So I apologize for repeating what has been addressed above.

Kirill Dashkovskiy

I always wear cufflinks, so for me it’s either a double cuff or single cuff with the extra button hole for cufflinks. Might not be very contemporary, but then there is room for discretion in such matters.

E.O.

As a Bond fan it’s hard to admit, but I see your point on cocktail cuffs. It’s a fun detail that gets lots of compliments, but at the end of the day it’s flashier and harder to manage than the average button cuff (no wonder Roger Moore shifted from complex cuff designs to simpler cuffs – he started off with cocktail cuffs but finished his tenure with a simple one-button rounded cuff!)
I also understand the reason you’re getting bespoke is because you want something that fits, obviously that’s the most important, but in my defense for pursuing a detail-packed wardrobe up to this day, let me say there’s a lot of fun in the little details too.

R Abbott

I enjoy wearing double cuffs for more formal occasions (e.g. weddings) or for non-work occasions (e.g. dinner at a nice restaurant) but find them highly impractical for office wear because the cuff links get in the way when I try to type.

Scott

The convertible cuff has worked very well for me as I enjoy wearing cufflinks, but don’t like the bulk of the double cuff. When I want to wear a button cuff the design looks like a regular one button cuff shirt. Of course with a button down collar I wear the traditional rounded one button cuff only. This is an excellent article that really clarifies cuff options and the importance of simplicity and avoiding gimmicks, thank you.

CDBP

A few observations :
I have a limited number of no nos : single cuffs with cuff links bar stiff evening dress ; worse, single cuffs with cuff links that can also button ; two buttons to tighten / loosen the single cuff ; cocktail cuffs.

Likes :
Classic Turnbull & Asser three button cuff
Old school American one button soft cuff, like Mercer or Brooks Brothers as it was.
French / double cuffs that are not too big. ( T & A are too big for my taste ).
Two buttons on country shirts, tattersall, flannel.

Jtkuga

I prefer 2 button round cuffs. For some reason, perhaps because they are the most common where I work, and worn by the worst dressers in my office, I think the 1 button round cuff looks cheap. I think the 3 button T and A style looks gimmicky to me. The two button is subtle, but a little different. I have never tried square cuffs, and I’ve had a few angled, or mitered cuffs, but they never seemed to lay right. I have a few French cuffed shirts that I wear every now and then, but they aren’t a part of my regular rotation as I don’t like the way they feel and find myself fiddling with the cufflinks for some reason. I do have one shirt with cocktail cuffs, and admit I got because of the Bond factor. I doubt I’ll ever get another one, they kinda annoy me like French cuff shirts do, but that particular shirt fits me better than any other I have so it I will keep it as part of my regular rotation until it wears out.

As far as fit goes, I have small wrists as well. I find having the cuffs 1.5 inches larger than my wrists keeps the shirt from going down past the bottom of my hands, while at the same time allowing my slim wristwatch to fit underneath.

S

Simon,

Isn’t the whole “button lower down” basically a description of the classic Brooks Brothers cuff? And as Agnelli always wore Brooks Brothers button down shirts, this influenced the Italian shirtmakers? So that the “Italian cuff” is actually quintessential American?

S

CDBP

Bingo !

Alexander

I come here for great reviews, thoughtful commentary, and sage-like sartorial advice, but, on the cocktail cuff, I feel attacked (joking, I’m joking – mostly).

Now, most of my shirts 30 (give or take a few) are indeed single cuffs (all of my casual and 12 of my 18 work shirts). I would agree that single cuff shirts are more versatile. I have 4 French Cuff shirts that I only wear to work, or for particularly formal events. I like them, especially with some nice chained cuffs, and they do sometimes make me feel more confident, but they can also come off as a bit fussy in some instances. I have 2 cocktail cuff shirt (both bespoke) and feel like the cocktail cuff offers a good medium, because most people will not notice it at all, it is a bit nifty (an helps me quickly identify my bespoke shirts in the closet), and frankly it is more for me than for others.

You’re certainly right, that it is a style I would not wear casually, in fact I don’t think think I’d wear those shirts without any tie. However, I might wear it with a woolen and a tie (that’s a conscious choice to very occasionally break the rules).

I’ve mentioned it before, but even with a mid-blue or light grey colored suit (or even a linen-blend) and monks straps/dark colored loafers I am still dressed on the more formal side among those of us that work in the California Capitol. However, cufflinks can sometimes draw attention (usually in a good way, but still).

Joel

I normally go for the standard one-button rounded, but as more formal option that is only to be worn with a jacket, a cocktail cuff is hard to beat. I find that they can have the same “roll” at the buttons that we look for on a well made bd collar. They are still neat like a one-button cuff, no jingly hardware, but they have a formal aspect of no seam showing.

Alexander

Joel has said this wonderfully. Perhaps I should take notes from he, and Nick, on brevity and clarity.

Anonymous

Can you comment on the style and origins of various lengths of single cuffs and cuff corners? I personally like a fairly long single cuff with rounded corners (not corners at all I guess!). I would be interested to know more about the regional origins of this style and your own preferences.

James

Simon lovely article as ever. Double cuffs wear out (I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a trashed single cuff ) but can be easily turned. I suspect the PS community rarely wears things to destruction, but maybe I’m wrong, and you’ve certainly done repair articles. Maybe I’ve missed your shirt repairs posting?

Sflynn

I really enjoy a double cuff, I like a descreet cufflink and can change out the fabric as it ages adding a bit more character and giving the shirt a whole new look. Regarding comfort I have always found double cuffs function very well without a cufflink when worn under a jacket it doesn’t flap around at all and allows it to be worn more casually and when worn without a jacket it relaxes the whole look significantly.

H

I’ve always gone for the ‘hybrid model’ of work shirts having double cuffs with silk knots. It seems to turn down the formality just a tad. Most important though is the joy I get from picking a different colour combination each morning.

Roger Seegobin

Simon, I always thought it was the cost of manufacturing a shirt, that did away with the French cuff, I still like a shirt that has one of those cuffs, which I would wear with a very simple pair of silver brushed links.
I would say in the pass ten years I have met people who never owned a pair of cuff links,.

Nick

Hello Simon, another interesting article, thank you .

I agree with your suggestion for a single button positioned lower, for a barrel cuff – to my eye it balances the proportions of the sleeve better, for some reason.

However I must disagree with you about the cocktail cuff. Far from gimmicky I find it very practical. In a job many years ago at a relatively formal office where everyone wore double cuffs, suits and ties, I became fed up with the cufflinks banging around on the desk when writing and typing (as alluded to by a couple of other commentators). Around the same time I read something describing the cocktail cuff being the actor David Niven’s favoured sleeve closure, and decided to try it.

Designing a version with my shirtmaker, it’s a style I’ve ordered often since that first prototype (although not so much anymore as my work now doesn’t require as much in the way of formality) and even wear them with black tie (something I did rip off from Roger Moore’s James Bond!) You get the additional formality of a double cuff, with the practicality of a barrel (and no clattering on the table). And they’re great for travel (for those who can vaguely recollect what that was!) as an alternative to a traditional double cuff, as invariably I’d lose or forget the links whilst on tour. Don’t knock the cocktail cuff – I love them!

Alexander

Nick described this wonderfully, and you are a class act Simon.

CUONGSTORE

Dear Simon,
This is an excellent article that really clarifies cuff options and the importance of simplicity and avoiding gimmicks, thank you so much.

Countalma

James Bond didn’t wear it “once”. The style has been worn by different actors, portraying Bond, Over the decades. It’s a style used by some of the finest shirtmakers of Jermyn street, so, perhaps, dismissing it so cavalierly isn’t the best idea. Just because you personally don’t like a style, doesn’t mean it’s a bad style. Also, the word “gimmick” can be applied to so many aspects of traditional men’s clothing. Basically anything can be labeled a “gimmick” if it doesn’t serve a utilitarian purpose. How are cuffs on trousers not a gimmick? Or roped sleeveheads on a coat? Even the buttons on a coat’s sleeves are entirely redundand and don’t serve any purpose. So, picking cocktail cuff as an example of bad taste in menswear hardly makes any sense.

Matt Spaiser

Though I am a huge fan of the cocktail cuff, and at least half of my shirts have the cuff in many variations, it’s more of a gimmick than the other things you mention. Cuffs on trousers add weight to the hem to help them drape better, though there are are hidden ways to do this as well. Roped sleeve heads on coats add fullness to the upper sleeve for comfort, drape and movement, though there are other ways to add the fullness too. Most aspects of menswear have some sort of utilitarian purpose or are decorative leftovers from an historical utilitarian purpose (typically the case of decorative buttons). I won’t say that cocktail cuffs ever had a utilitarian purpose, though historically men have been wearing various kinds of shirt or jacket cuffs that turn back without cufflinks.

Anonymous

Wasn’t sure if to write here or on the black tie fabric post from the other day.

Most my shirts are made by Luca other than a few older shirts that are still hanging around. I am wanting to get a shirt to go with black tie but thinking Luca’s style is too informal but don’t really want to be caught by the normal bespoke shirt makers minimum X order.

Any recommendations of how to go forward?

Anonymous

Thanks Simon, was intending to go with a Marcella front… will ask Luca anyway but if not him who/where?

Alan

One point you did not mention was the positioning of the buttonhole on double cuffs. I personally prefer them when they are slightly closer to the folding edge than the halfway point, so that part of the cufflink peaks out from the jacket sleeve (I prefer to do this with smaller chain link cufflinks so that it gives a subtle, understated appearance). If the buttonhole is too far from the edge you never see the cufflinks when the jacket is worn.

Would you also consider doing a post on cufflinks? It’s a very open ended topic but I would be interested to see what sort of cufflinks you like to wear.

Russ

Simon, I can explain where the single linked cuff on white tie attire came from. A dear departed great uncle of mine was a tailor between the two world wars and I inherited his white tie and tails. He also introduced me in his retirement to a close elderly musician friend who had fought in WW1 and later ran a popular upmarket band in London during the 1920’s and 1930s – he would tell some pretty wild tales about the society parties and the enormous tips that were handed out by the gentry, but that’s an aside. Again, this chap regularly wore white tie in the inter-wars period and he later (when I went up to Oxford and started being a poser!) gave me his spats, cufflinks, studs etc which I treasure and occasionally use (apart from the spats of course) to this day. Anyway both were pretty knowledgeable about how to dress up.

The shirt for a white tie and tails is very heavily starched, and it would be impractical to have a French cuff – the starch would simply crack at the fold. In addition, it was then customary, due to the London smog, to take spare collars and cuffs with you (cuffs could be made detachable in the same way as collars) and change both on ones shirt. The air was so filthy with the coal fires that everyone was burning, that your collar and cuffs would attract soot spots and be filthy after a few hours. I had this confirmed by one of the old boy senior partners of the City firm where I trained in London – he said that in the 1930’s every trainee solicitor had to bring to work with him a clean spare collar and cuffs set every day and change them at lunchtime. The office windows also had to be kept shut because on bad days (usually when it was foggy) it was a health hazard to allow in the outside air.

I have also heard tell that another reason for the single stiff cuff is attributable to the famous Beau Brummell. Anything ‘French’ would be regarded as a ‘no no’ unless it was alcoholic.

Jon Bromfield

Strictly speaking, a gentleman does not wear a watch with formal clothes, so as to not insult the hostess/host with any checking of the time.

Andie Nicolas

Richard is right about double cuffs and writing away at the desk – sometimes all day! I tend to fold the double cuff over so the wrist is bare! Unfortunately I still write away (with fountain pens at that) rather than type away on the computer.
Another problem I found that with a solid gold watch on the wrist, the bar of the cufflink can rub away at the gold which is a softer medium. Same with the chain link cufflinks. I get over the problem by passing the bar through one of the two outer cuff holes so that the bar or link has no contact with gold of the watch bracelet.

Tom

A very interesting article.

I fell for the trend of thinking French cuffs were smarter than the other options. As a result I’ve got a wardrobe full of shirts with French cuffs. With Covid changing work patterns, combined with a personal shift towards a less formal style, I now wish I some of these shirts had button cuffs.

I presume not, but wonder whether anyone has had any luck converting French cuffs into single cuffs?

Anonymous

Hey Simon, maybe I missed it do you also have a diagram of your favorite shirt collars. I know they will tend to vary per person head shape and preference. Just more so from a guide standpoint.

JimmyD

First-time comment. Simon – you have a fantastic site and this is an excellent article (and timely) since I’ve been searching online for more information on single cuff link shirts. I occasionally see this type of shirt being worn in movies from the 50’s and early 60’s and think it’s a great way to spice up a single cuff shirt without the formality of a French cuff. Plus I would be able to put my growing collection of cuff links to more use. Can you recommend any online retailers that sell shirts with this type of cuff (single cuff link version only and not the convertible version)? Thanks!

Joël

Hi Simon,
nice article.

I like the double button cuff, because it prevents the cuff from “angling” and looking weird on your wrist sometimes even being uncomfortable, though I must admit, I only ever had this issue with RTW shirts (as I always ordered my bespoke ones with double buttons cuff).

I discussed the 3 buttons cuff with Turnbull & Asser once, and they explained they first started to do this cuff for a customer wearing large watches, so that instead of enlarging the cuff for the watch to fit underneath, he could let the 3rd button opened and wear his watches without feeling discomfort.

As someone who wear a watch everyday, I had my shirts done with the left cuff a tad wider than the right, to accommodate for my watches (I know it’s not really advised, but I really can’t stand my watch and shirt battling for the position on my wrist). I must say I’m intrigued by that 3 buttons trick. Since not all watch are slim (and that include many classic ones, especially those with complications) it might be an idea, which of course sacrifices some formality. I already “tested” it with my 2 buttons shirt once or twice, but since the cuff is already a tad larger, I can’t really comment on the effect and prefer them buttoned.

Regards,
Joël

Frederic

Actually I find that multiple buttons do have a function. Most cuffs of my RTW shirts, are moving around the button, so that edges of the cuff are not aligned at the wrist. I find this pretty annoying at least with dress shirts. A double button cuff does prevent the cuff edges from moving around, which is why I always order double button cuffs. (I also prefer the optic but that´s something else) . However I can´t imagine an additional function of a three button cuff.
Best regards, Frederic

James

Nice article. I personally wear french cuffs most of the time as I like wearing cuff links. I feel they let me add a nice bit personality to what can sometime be a very generic look. I’ve yet to try a single cuff made for a cuff link. I think it might be quite nice as the seam of a french cuff occasionally catches on things and having the doubling of the material can sometimes feel a bulky.

John

Simon,

what you call an open cuff (“the single button low on the cuff, and close to its edge”) is an interesting design.

I think that the hem stitching on such a cuff must be closer to the edge then usual 6 or 7 mm if button should end just with the edge of the cuff (and to ensure that it would end with the edge when buttoned-up). Would you kept that closer stitching also on a collar (for balance) or do you find this “matching rule” redundant?

J.

Paul Trumbull

I agree that a one button single cuff is what makes sense for functionality…However, I like a three button square cuff, just because I think it looks great, and not many people wear three button cuffs. So, I opt for them when I am having a shirt made, albeit only with MoP buttons. It’s fun, and it expresses my individual style.

And, thank goodness, the Mad Men style is going away. It didn’t look good in the 1960s, or the 2010s.

Andrew Nguyen

This may be a silly question but I believe I bought a French Double cuff shirt (32″ – which is my length) but when I fold it back it is too short but fits perfectly when treated as a single cuff (i.e. no folding back). So is it ok to wear this double cuff as a single cuff as it is past the return date and it looks fine to me in doing so??? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!!

Andrew Nguyen

Typically my length is 32″ but when buying a french cuff shirt obviously I need it to be aro 34-35″… In this case, I inadvertently ordered a french cuff 32″. Again, it is past the return date & it fits perfectly as a single cuff so I was just wondering if this was ok or would be too whacky to do lol???

Andrew Nguyen

Thx for the input suppose I’ll just donate it 😉

Andrew Nguyen

Simon, I apologize sincerely SO MUCH my friend for my question above which I now know how silly it must have sounded to you because when I came to realize something recently I felt compelled to revisit this comment to clarify. The reason was I ordered a “French Cuff STYLED” shirt online that suited my length size 32″ and naturally I folded it back as normal with a Double Cuff which I assumed ALL FRENCH CUFFS are… But I realized that I liked the look without folding back (even with your understandably critical feedback above)… It was when I pulled out another Double Cuff did I realize it was DOUBLE the size (6″) of the FRENCH CUFF STYLED SHIRT (3″) I was so confused about. So the long & short of it is, for anyone there exists SINGLE CUFF with a FRENCH CUFF STYLE (with cufflink options as well) LOL which is quite rare but I actually prefer this FRENCH/SINGLE style over the traditional FRENCH/DOUBLE CUFFS and glad I learned this before donating it as I was intending to do!!! Sorry for the long reply but I just couldn’t help but laugh imagining how you felt when reading my initial question because yes wearing a double cuff without folding would look INSANE LOL ;-)))

Alfonso Munoz

Personally, I absolutely love and would not entertain the idea of wearing anything but double (French) cuffed shirts for business and formal purposes. Putting aside the simple pleasure of selecting the cuff links that suit your mood or occasion, ultimately, the elegance and sophistication it provides and infuses upon your attire(specifically while wearing suspenders), is not only reassuring, but a classy and uniquely distinguished state of mind. Call me bourgeoise, but I am a die-hard aficionado.

John

Simon, do you consider it necessary to match the length (height) of cuffs with that of collar points? I keep both at 8 cm on my shirts, but so far I’ve only worn double cuffs. Based on this article, I had a shirt made with the rounded single cuff, the Italian “open” style. I think that somewhat shorter cuff would be much better fit for a lower button and the single cuff in general. I’d shorten it to about 5 cm. Do you think that mismatch with collar points is something to care about?

Thanks!

John

Michel Archambault

Love the subtle ‘dig’ on Tom Ford’s painted on suits for Daniel Craig’s Bond! Thank God they stopped short of the PeeWee Herman look, yikes!