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Rules for Cufflink Shirts With a Suit

author image LaMont Jones, Jr.
LaMont Jones was an award-winning fashion and beauty editor for a decade at the "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette." A five-time nominator and judge of the CFDA Awards, he covers New York Fashion Week regularly. Jones is a 2011 inductee into the Pittsburgh Fashion Hall of Fame and coaches fashion models.
Rules for Cufflink Shirts With a Suit
A close-up of a man sitting in a leather chair wearing a suit jacket with cufflinks. Photo Credit dejan Jekic/iStock/Getty Images

A shirt with French or double cuffs is traditionally one of the dressiest shirts a man can wear. While your shirt and cufflink choices allow you to express your personal style, consider a few important guidelines if you decide to wear this style with a suit rather than a tuxedo.

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It looks sloppy to don a shirt with French cuffs and not wear cufflinks, which is like wearing lace-up shoes without laces. Turning the cuffs back over the suit sleeve or just letting them hang loose is unprofessional -- and inappropriate for such a dressy look. If you don’t want to wear cufflinks, choose a regular shirt style with the more common barrel cuffs and buttons.

Neckwear Mandatory

Some ensembles require certain sartorial complements. Just as a tuxedo jacket requires tuxedo pants, French cuffs and a suit require neckwear. Like going without cufflinks, wearing the collar open on a French cuff shirt is too casual for a suited look. Either a bow tie or necktie is appropriate. Given the dressiness of French cuffs and a suit, a good rule of thumb is to keep the tie a solid color if your suit or shirt has a pattern.

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Suit Styles

Be careful how you wear French cuffs with casual suits. Some summer-weight suits, such as khaki, linen and seersucker, are so casual that a French cuff shirt may look odd. If the suit is simple, opt for more subtle cufflinks. For edgier suits, more whimsical cufflink styles make a better fit. Stick with a neutral-colored shirt if you're wearing the suit to work, but feel free to go with a more adventurous color or print for an out-of-office social function that still requires a suit.

Styling Tips

French cuff shirts look best and provide the most options in a neutral color, with white as the most formal option. A colored shirt with contrasting white collar and white or self-fabric cuffs is also a popular choice. However, beware of loud patterns and colors such as neons, which can cheapen a suit’s look and overpower your cufflinks. Cufflinks with business suits should be simple, ideally in silver, gold or platinum; any engraving should be subtle and tasteful. Build a cufflink wardrobe that includes diverse styles so you have many options for making your look fit your mood and the occasion.

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