Our dear Panelist from New York asked about cufflinks, and I thought that I'd write a bit on them. I should start by saying that I enjoy metal as well as soft links, but my true love is indeed, the silk knot. The silk knot is incapable of being flashy, and can never be accused of being too jewelry-like. They are however, more complex color-wise when considering the selection for the shirt. I have rarely seen silk knots used poorly, but I have seen metal link misfortune with surprising frequency. When metal links are worn badly, they are the equivalent of gold chains, conspicuous rings, or flash belt buckles. I have no formulae or rules to suggest, rather, I think that so long as one realizes that metal links require far more caution, the correct effect will be achieved. I wear silk knots with sweaters, without jackets or ties, and I wear them with black-tie. I would wear metal links in all of those situations, though probably not just in shirtsleeves (summer and in the tropics). Our dear New York friend suggested that horn, wood, leather, or toggle links might be worn, and I could not agree more. I have a handful of subway tokens from our T that I plan to turn into the face-sides of cufflinks sometime, and the idea of carving some links from a rare burl is fantastic... imagine a handsome briarwood or meerschaum set made from an irreparably damaged but beloved pipe! Small grommets or hardware from a rare car, fittings from a handsome watercraft, seashells, or small gears from a damaged clock would all make exciting cufflinks. I also once made a pair of silk knots by tying four tiny monkeys fists (the knot used and pictured above), which required small tweezers, resistance to motion sickness, and a long calm passage from Key West to Nassau.
The real issue seems to be that the metal link must not appear to be a default. It should not be flash or disproportionately sized, and it must appear that one has thought it through. Flash is forgiven when one explains "These were Grandfather's... he got them after [better: during] the war." Our dear New York friend once sent us pictures of cufflinks that involved resin-suspended trout flies as the face. Home run. I like the idea of old typewriter buttons, too... sort of a cheaters monogram. Extra points if you are a writer. I made a pair of hilarious links by sewing two mother-of-pearl buttons back-to-back, with some space in the middle. I button the French cuffs together in a wonderfully self-defeating way, certain to frustrate the flash wearer. I was inspired to create these after seeing an acquaintance sporting a pair of links that had no face, just double swivels. Hilarious! The observer instantly thinks you've fastened them backward, but when they get a peek at the opposite side, they realize something is wrong.
The cufflink demands more attention than some give it, and less attention than others do. Flash should be just that: if the link makes impromptu appearances from under the jacket sleeve, a bit of notice should be alright. If the link lives out in the open (sweater, etc.), it should be toned way down.