A guide to dress shirts: the cuff

In the previous article of our guide to dress shirts we discussed the most popular collars for a dress shirt. In this article we will discuss the various cuff options when designing a dress shirt. The most important question to answer is whether you want a barrel cuff with buttons or a French cuff for cufflinks.  

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Barrel cuffs

Barrel cuffs are closed with buttons and are the everyday choice for most people. The barrel cuff gives a wide range of choices to the wearer, from choosing the number of buttons to the shape and design of the cuff . As to the number of buttons, most people will opt for a one-button or a two-button cuff. However, as a bespoke tailor we can also make cuffs with three or even five buttons. You have to keep in mind that the more buttons, the longer the cuff. Ofcourse, even if you want just a one-button cuff, you can decide on a longer cuff length. A longer cuff is recommended for someone with long arms. With regard to the shape of the cuff corners, you can decide between a round, an angled or a squared shape. Rounded cuffs are most common and subtle, whereas angled cuffs are generally considered more elegant and formal. The straight cut is less common, but can look nice, especially on a casual shirt. If you like your shirt cuffs to give a little bit more of a bespoke look, you can decide on an extra design element by choosing the Italian, the tab or the enveloppe closure (see the picture above).    

French (or double) cuffs

French cuffs are dressier and more formal than barrel cuffs. The cuff is folded back (hence the double) with holes to be fastened with cufflinks instead of buttons. Cufflinks are one of the typical pieces of men’s jewellery and if you like to make a personal statement or express your sense of style, French cuffs are a great way to do so. French cuffs can have squared, rounded or angled corners. Next to the double folded cuff it is also possible to opt for a single cuff (without the fold). If you wear formal outfits such as a three-piece suit or a tuxedo, a shirt with French cuffs are a must-have. When you want a more casual shirt, you should not opt for French cuffs.

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There are a lot of variations to the cuff style of a dress shirt and it is even possible to combine the barrel cuffs with French cuffs (the so-called convertible cuffs). Ideally, the shirt cuffs and the shirt collar should harmonize so the combination will give you the look you’re searching for, whether this is a formal, relaxed or a classic look.