CufflinksCufflinks are fasteners that are used to join two sides of a shirt or blouse cuff together. Cufflinks can only be used on special dress shirts or blouses that have a buttonhole on both sides of the cuff to accommodate the fastener. This style of cuff is commonly referred to as a link cuff, French cuff, or double cuff.
Cufflinks come in a large number of different styles, and no one style is more prevalent than any other. They range from simple metal posts designed to discretely hold cuffs together, to elaborate custom made designs encrusted with jewels, bone, cloth, and wood. It is also common practice to have cufflinks personally monogrammed with the owner’s name or initials.
Cufflinks date back to the Middle Ages where they were used by noblemen and called cuffstrings. These cuffstrings were little more than small chains connected to buttons. Though cuffstrings show a clear resemblance to modern cufflinks, they did not have the same diversity of style as today’s cufflinks.
It was not until the mid 19th century, however, that cufflinks found widespread usage. Prior to this the predominant fashion trends leaned towards ruffled and highly adorned sleeves. However, once simple unadorned cuffs gained popularity cufflinks had an opportunity to thrive.
Today cufflinks are seen as a formal accessory and are not used in casual situations. While they are almost a "must have" accessory for black tie attire they are much more optional for business attire with suit and tie.
An inexpensive alternative to metal cufflinks is the “monkey fist cufflink” which is made of elastic cord tied with a monkey fist knot at either end. These cufflinks are seen as novelty items and not typically used in formal situations. For more information you may also read this article titled: The History of Mens Cufflinks.