T’S been a while since I mentioned the young apprentices but both have flown the nest and neither is so young anymore.
However, the younger of the two came home the other day sporting a pair of cufflinks, each bearing an initial of his name.
He’d been a groomsman at a friend’s wedding and they were a gift to thank him for his services.
He wasn’t sure what to make of them. Too ostentatious? I told him to watch Dragon’s Den. Blingy, show-off jewellery attracts multi-millionaires and not just the ladies.
Touker Suleyman, owner of quintessentially British menswear brand Hawes & Curtis – he bought it for £1 – is a particular devotee of initial cufflinks, although why he needs his initials on his shirts is beyond me.
Telecoms entrepreneur Peter Jones is not far behind, although his cufflinks are somewhat more understated.
The boy has some way to go before he attains such status, but there’s nothing to stop any of us starting a collection of cufflinks, antique or otherwise. Not all of them need cost a fortune, although a lot can.
The shirt with so-called “French cuffs” was the reason why cufflinks became an essential on a man’s dressing table. Before then, and since the 14th century, ruffed shirt sleeves (and collars) were secured with ribbons at court, while coloured strings served for everyday garments.
In fact, the sophisticated French cuff originated in the UK and got its name only when the fashion reached America. We called it the foldback, turnback or the double cuff and, as its name suggests, it was (and still is) double the length of the normal cuff.
This is folded back on itself and held, in the early days, by six holes for button fasteners, rather than today’s four. When the cuff got dirty, this permitted the wearer to fold the dirty part out of sight and secure it by moving the fasteners.
No one is certain when this change in shirt design evolved, but by the turn of the 18th century, the wellheeled soon enjoyed showing off their wealth by replacing the plain fasteners with gold buttons, sometimes set with jewels.
It didn’t take a genius to realise that linking the buttons together with a short chain made them more secure and easy to use, Cufflinks as we know them today were born.
The Sun King, Louis XIV (16381715) of Palace of Versailles fame had