As I make Cufflinks I started to wonder about the who, where and why of CUFFLINKS. It’s really very interesting!
The word “cuffe” used to mean the bottom of the sleeve and has been found in literature as far back as mid 14th Century. It is believed that it first meant ” hand covering, mitten, or glove”. There is evidence also that in 1520 it meant a band around the sleeve and hem of trousers.
The term “cuff” was then used as a verb from 1690s, presumably because it refers to a clout delivered by the hand.
Interestingly, off the cuff was used extemporaneously in American English from around the late 1930s, referring to an actor or speaker reading from notes jotted on his shirt sleeves rather than learned lines.
How interesting is that? I wonder how many actors actually write their lines on their cuff? Of course, the curiosity of this little linguistic tit-bit is that speaking off the cuff now refers to NOT needing notes!
In the 1640s the word “cuff” was used to describe a decorative addition to a sleeve;
By the way, http://www.etymonline.com/index.php, is a great site where you can find the derivation of anything you want.
Prior to the introduction of CUFFLINKS, tailors used buttons solely as decoration, and men kept their clothes together with pins, laces and straps.
During the 13th century, tailors began using buttons as fasteners. The development of the worked (stitched) buttonhole during the Renaissance aided in the button’s popularity.
In the post-Renaissance period (1600s) that two ornamented buttons, attached in the middle with a link of chain, became de rigeur among the upper classes of Europe, especially Great Britain, as per the cufflinks at the very top of the blog.
Jewelers began turning out what they called “sleeve buttons” in silver and gold, with etched or stamped designs, and often encrusted with precious gems.
Every royal family commemorated weddings and other special events with them, and the wearing of cufflinks became the mark of a gentleman. Funnily enough, their popularity is again soaring today, as they and the associated “French cuffs”(see later) are considered tres chic!
Glass buttons appeared in the late 17th century as a gaudier but lower-cost alternative to diamonds.
During the 18th century, a new jewel material – glass paste – made of ground-up glass and resembling faceted gems, came into widespread use. Paste became a popular material for covering cufflinks and buttons. The English fashion spread to France, where it became popular among the nobility.
It wasn’t until 1788 that the first known record of the word “cufflink” appeared.
In the late Napoleonic period, Faberge perfected kiln-fired enameled jewelry, and began exporting it around the world.
In 1845, the French claim to the double shirt cuff was made explicit with Alexandre Dumas’s hugely popular novel, The Count of Monte-Cristo, which describes Baron Danglars’s elegantly adorned cuffs thus: “…the owner of so splendid an equipage must needs be all that was admirable and enviable, more especially when they gazed on the enormous diamond that glittered in his shirt, and the red ribbon that depended from his button-hole.” How do you like the exquisite language? This must be the most amazing description of a cufflink ever written!
It has been said that the turned-back sleeves of Dumas’s characters inspired French tailors to begin making doubled-over, or “French” cuffs. The National Cuff Link Society, however, cautions that it may not be the shirt’s true origin. Regardless of which country invented it, the French cuff has remained popular for 150 years as a vehicle for cufflinks and is enjoying a surge in popularity.
The practice of wearing cufflinks spread and became ubiquitous during the 19th century. Imitation gems such as glass paste, micah and crystal, as well as gold- and silver-plate and base metal alloys were all employed by jewellers to make cufflinks affordable to the masses.
In the 1920s, jewllery designers invented the T-post and flip hinges. Snap-together cufflinks followed in the ’30s. Low-end manufacturers turned out millions of inexpensive cufflinks in standard designs from the 1930s through the 1960s.
The buttondown shirt’s popularity in the 1960s and 1970s dampened the demand for cufflinks as buttoned cuffs suited the overall look of the shirt more. However in the 1980s and again during the past five years, French cuff shirts again returned to men’s wardrobes, and are now extremely popular, especially with young professionals trying to stand out in a sea of “business casual” attire.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my “cuff links”. if you’ll pardon the dreadful pun! If you want to know about ordering a unique pair of handmade glass cufflinks for yourself or someone you love, just drop me a line.Alexandre Dumas Baron Danglars black glass blue glass buttondown collar Catherine of Braganza clothing history Count of Monte Cristo cuffe cufflinks etymology fashion fashion trends French cuffs fused glass glass cufflinks King Charles II mens fashion mens gifts mens wear red glass renaissance White Collar Movie