A running joke among many people is that women are luckier than men since they have a wide selection of formal clothes and styles at their disposal, whereas men only have suits and tuxedos, with little variation through shirt color and style of ties. An often ignored element of style amongst men, however, is the cuff links, which replace buttons in holding a shirt’s cuffs around a man’s wrists.
In general, there are two formal situations in which men may require cuff links, work and social, and each setting has different guidelines for when to wear them.
Men do not require cufflinks at work on a day-to-day basis – simple button-down shirts with buttoned cuffs are appropriate most of the time. Since cuff links are formal, it may contribute to an awkward work environment at the office – setting some employees apart from others. However, it is generally acceptable for senior employees and executives, such as CEOs, CFOs, and Managing Directors, to wear cuff links on a normal basis since wearing them sends a signal of power to their subordinates.
In general, employees would consider wearing cuff links when meeting with clients or other important figures, or when attending formal work-related events, such as conferences. While there is no hard and fast rule, people should wear cuff links in work-related settings when they are conducting business with the outside world.
In formal social settings, it is much more appropriate for men to wear cuff links without giving as much thought to event. During formal social events, like galas, weddings, receptions, parties, and balls, men should feel at liberty to wear cuff links. Indeed, it is expected that men will take their style beyond plain vanilla shirts that use standard, boring buttons to hold the cuffs. Cuff links add an element of elegance to a man’s outfit, so it makes sense for men to wear them.
An important caveat to wearing cuff links, regardless of the setting, is to ensure that the cuff links are classy. Some cuff links can be tacky or loud, attracting too much attention and taking away from the overall outfit. This should not happen. Cuff links should complement, not overpower, a man’s overall appearance and style. As long the cuff links are chosen and worn tactfully, they have the power to transform an outfit from standard and good to suave and debonair.
Therefore, be sure to have a range of cuff links to choose from for your next event – at work or socially.