In one form of another, the cufflink, or ‘sleeve button’, has been a part of men’s wardrobe’s for over a millennium — with royal families commissioning cufflinks to mark weddings or other special events for centuries and some historians noting the cufflinks’ presence in ancient Egyptian paintings. But if there’s a story to be told about the modern cufflinks and cuff styles prevalent in men’s wardrobes today, it should certainly start with a mention of Alexandre Dumas’ nineteenth century novel The Count of Monte-Cristo. Nowhere else in the history of western literature will you find a story wherein the cuff of a man’s sleeve receives so much attention, or has had such an affect on ‘real-world’ menswear. Specifically, fashion legend has it that the turned back, french cuff was born (for all intents and purposes) after french tailors read a description of one particularly pivotal character in the book (‘Baron Danglars’) — a man whose presence sparked great envy when onlookers “gazed on the enormous diamond that glittered in his shirt, and the red ribbon that depended from his button-hole”. So sumptuous and handsome a description was this, that tailors immediately recognized how outfitting french society with such details could distinguish their clients and add a new chapter to modern man’s costume.
Shortly thereafter, a cuffed shirt and a set of signature cufflinks (or ribbons) became a characteristic mark of a true, modern gentleman — and cufflinks started to commonly appear at the wrists of men outside the immediate aristocracy.