Origin of French cuff shirts
French cuff, also known as double cuff, is a double-length shirt cuff that is stitched on separately and then turned back on itself and fastened with a cuff link. French cuff dress shirts in slim fit are a must with Tuxedos. French cuffs were actually invented in Great Britain, where they were originally known as double cuff, foldback or turnback. This elegant style of shirt cuff got the name “French Cuff” when it reached America.
Cufflinks became immensely popular as a form of status symbol and fashion accessory in the 1930’s. Cufflinks continued to enjoy this popularity in the dressy eras of the past; think Mad Men of the 1960s, Saturday Night Fever of the '70s and Wall Street of the '80s. Almost every James Bond movie had the protagonist sporting fancy cufflinks; and it became a pop culture symbol. And thus, the French cuff shirt became a cornerstone of well-dressed men.
Why are French cuff shirts considered sophisticated?
- French cuff shirts are dressier than barrel-cuff (buttoned cuff) shirts.
- They are a must for black tie attire and formal attire.
- They generally come in finer, more luxurious fabrics than barrel-cuff shirts.
- Beside black-tie attire, they are best worn with a dressy suit or a fine blazer.
- They have a more ‘complete’ look than barrel cuff shirts; with cufflinks adding more style than just simple buttons.
- Cufflinks come in various materials, styles, shapes and designs. There are even luxurious cufflinks available for the sartorially niche
Apart from black tie attire, French cuff shirts are also worn with business attire, weddings and smart casual settings like formal dinners and office parties. While it is mandatory for black tie events, French cuff shirts add a layer of sophistication and suave to outfits in other settings. For someone wearing one to work, it gives the impression that the man means business. When you’re out for a date, it gives the impression that the man pays attention to little details; and that surely is an attractive trait. Since cufflinks are dressier than plain buttons, they lend a sharp look to the man’s outfit.
For a tuxedo, a white shirt is the obvious choice. For business attire, subtle shades of blue, pink, beige, etc. are safe choices. For social settings, you can choose bold patterns of French cuff shirts.
An interesting way of wearing French cuff shirts can be taken from the fashionably famous Italians. Italian men in that upper social stratum sometimes wear their French cuff shirts unfastened, i.e. without cufflinks. They do in order to purposely create a small error in order to seem nonchalant and not overly concerned with appearances. There is even a word for this practice – sprezzatura. It is, unsurprisingly, an Italian word that first appeared in 1528.
In conclusion, a man should have at least a few French cuff dress shirts in slim fit in his wardrobe in order to be well-dressed for various occasions.