Hey Gents —
A common mansumption is that there’s ONE specific style of dress for every situation. Let me give you some examples:
“I work at an investment firm (or bank, or corporate office) so I have to wear a navy (or black, or gray) suit.”
“These pants are black, so I have to wear black shoes and black socks.”
“I’m making a quick trip to Target, so it’s okay to wear flannel pajama bottoms and flip flops.”
No! No no no, and no. And one more no. Especially that one about pajama pants. Only sophomore-year college girls do that, and even then, I disapprove.
I’ve been a fan of the high-low sensibility for a while, simply because it’s easier to fit in no matter what situation you are in. The no-fail ensemble of dark, well-fitted jeans, button-up shirt, and sport coat is a prime example. Most workplaces have adopted the idea of “business casual” as acceptable for their employees, and this getup fits the bill (assuming you’re doing it right.) What’s so great about it? Well, you’ve successfully thrown on a combination that can take you from the cubicle to happy hour, and you’ll be appropriately dressed for either environment.
This brings me to the topic of french cuff shirts. The uneducated everyday man might say, “Oh man! French cuffs? That’s too fancy schmancy.” And to you I say, “Dude… really?”
Honestly it’s not. French cuffs can add a little sexiness and style to your high-low uniform. Here are a couple ways to pull this off:
Fold cuffs down, join two ends together (inside touching inside) and stick cufflink stem (or silk knot) from the outside hole working your way in. There are four individual button holes you have to work that bad boy into, so be patient. If you get frustrated, have a glass of scotch, and try again. (Don’t have two glasses though, you may never make it out the door. And wait a second, isn’t it 7am? It might be a tad too early to start drinking.)
Some french cuff shirts (such as this one from Gytha Mander) have a button sewn on the inside of the cuff, to help hold it all together. Once you fasten this, it will be easier to get the cufflink in the main button holes. Feel free to utilize this as your one and only cuff fastener. It gets the job done, which means less fuss on your part. Plus, it looks like you don’t care, but in a good way. It lends a certain amount of Sprezzatura. Speaking of sprezzatura, this leads us to the next way to wear your french cuffs…
My favorite way to wear french cuffs if I’m doing a lot of work at the computer or want to wear a sweater. Take your silk knot or cufflink, place it through the outermost button hole, working your way in. The trick is in how you overlap the cuffs; you want to slide one side underneath the other, so it forms a faux regular cuff. Then, you would work your cufflink post through the rest of the buttonholes. Check the photos above.
Okay, this is for the brave everyday man. It takes a little bit of nonchalance and attitude to do this, but I believe in you. Simply throw that french cuff shirt on, fold up the cuffs, throw on your sweater or sport coat, and walk out the door. That’s it! Your jacket will keep the cuffs in check, and that’s the key to it all: keep your jacket on. Onlookers will take one glance at you and think either a.) “Man, this guy’s got some style!” or b.) “Did he forget his cufflinks?” Regardless, it doesn’t matter what people think, because you dress for yourself, right?
I guarantee that the educated, stylish man will think option A. All the other frumpy, gutless guys will think option B. The option B folks are also the ones wearing triple-pleated Dockers and blousy dress shirts, sporting backpacks while going to the office, so really, their opinion doesn’t matter much. Maybe your stylish, non-cufflink-sporting self will inspire them to get out of their blouses and into something slim with french cuffs.
A note on wearing french cuffs with no links: If you’re gonna take off your blazer to get your hands dirty, make sure to roll those sleeves up! We don’t want you getting caught in a meat grinder or that large, complex office printer. Plus, wearing french cuffs all unfolded and flapping in the wind makes you look weird. And we at the Effortless Gent do not endorse weird. Usually.
Well there you go, some pointers on how to rock the french cuff even when not attending dinner at the White House. If you take these tips and mix in a little bit of confidence, you’ll sooner or later be the coolest kid on the block.