A Guide to French Cuffs

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For those unfamiliar to the French cuff, the thought of wearing one can be intimidating. After all, no one wants to be the person known for missing the memo and showing up to the business-casual meeting overdressed. Although, when worn appropriately, a French cuff shirt has the ability to exude a feeling of confidence and self-assurance.

When coming across a French cuff shirt for the first time, the design appears to be somewhat of an anomaly. The sleeves seem way too long, there are too many holes (four to be exact), and zero buttons. There is a lot going on, but a couple of folds and some pinning, the wearer discovers a design rooted in function.

The French cuff, also known as a double cuff, can be traced to 19th-century Europe. With the rise of the merchant class by way of the Industrial Revolution that was occurring at the time, wearing a double cuff fastened by cufflinks became an understated way to show off social class. Some sources claim that the British began this, whereas others attribute this to the French. Although this tradition’s country of origin may never be settled, Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, led to the double cuff’s popularity. Baron Danglars, one of the book’s antagonists, is described as having extravagant adornments set on the turned back sleeves of his shirts. According to legend, many French tailors began making shirt cuffs with this “turned back” style, which quickly became known as the French cuff across Europe and America.

Of all cuff options, the French cuff is by far the dressiest. But you don’t necessarily have to wear a three-piece suit with them. French cuff shirts are an essential part of any wardrobe and we recommend wearing them with a suit and tie if you plan to wear them for work. They frame a suit nicely, and the cuffs look right at home peaking proudly from underneath a jacket’s cuffs.

For formal occasions, such as black tie events, we recommend wearing either two of our most formal shirts. First, our Barrington Tuxedo Shirt features a classic wing collar, which pairs well with a bowtie. We also recommend our Tuxedo Spread shirt that was crafted from a luxurious white two-fold royal twill fabric and features a removable button band that enables the shirt to be worn with studs or buttons.

To fasten your French cuffs, make sure to select your cufflinks appropriately. Cufflinks provide a region for some creative expression and a chance to make a subtle statement. For our Monroe Cufflinks, we collaborated with a third generation jeweler, Joe Rhames, for a sophisticated accessory.

The French cuff is the embodiment of style and sophistication. Whether if you’re headed to a black tie event, or just another day at the office, wear a shirt with a French cuff to take you over the sartorial threshold from being well dressed to stylish.

Shop all of our French cuff shirts here.

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