The cuff of your dress shirt may not seem like a huge deal, especially if it’s only seen very little under your jacket sleeve.
However, that small piece of fabric on your wrist plays almost an outsized role in influencing the formality of your dress shirt.
All dress shirts have cuffs, the narrow strip of fabric that encircles your wrist and keeps your shirt sleeve in place.
However, you’ll find that shirt cuffs can be fashioned in a surprisingly large number of styles.
The barrel cuff is the most common cuff style for men’s dress shirts.
They are simple, uncomplicated tube-shaped, and secured with at least one button.
Barrel cuffs aren’t formal but are versatile enough that they’re suitable for business wear.
Within the barrel cuff family, you’ll find many style options.
Square Barrel Cuff
You’ll instantly recognize this cuff because it’s cut straight across the top, so the corners form right angles.
This is the most casual type of barrel cuff.
It isn’t an exciting look to your cuff, but it gets the job done.
The square edges make rolling your shirt sleeves easier, adding to the casual nature of this cuff.
Angled Barrel Cuff
You’ll also see these cuffs referred to as mitered barrel cuffs.
There are no right angles to be found here because the corners are cut off at a 45-degree angle.
The cut of these cuffs adds some interest to your dress shirt; they’re incredibly striking.
Angled cuffs are some of the most frequently seen cuff styles; they are perfect because they suit both informal and very dressy outfits.
Rounded Barrel Cuff
Rounded barrel cuffs are another popular cuff choice for men’s dress shirts.
You can create a softer look if you approach your shirt cuffs with a rounded barrel cuff.
The curving edges look very elegant.
Although these cuffs add sophistication to your dress shirt, they aren’t confined only to formalwear.
They can also be a sign of casual leisure dress.
One Button vs. Two-Button Barrel Cuffs
When you’re opting for which style you choose for your dress shirt, consider ahead of time if you plan to wear it for more professional and formal events or casual ones.
Even small details like buttons make a difference.
Two-button cuffs are more formal than ones with only one.
The two buttons are stacked on top of each other, so they are both seen from the outside of the cuff.
This is different from the two side-by-side buttons; those allow you to make your cuff looser or tighter. However, this would still be considered a one-button shirt cuff.
Shirt Collar to Match the Barrel Cuff
The cuff on your dress shirt should reflect the formality and tone of your collar.
It’s just that the barrel cuff is versatile enough to be a good match for all shirt collars.
In general, button-down collars will be best with most barrel cuffs because of their informal nature.
Straight point and cutaway collars are also great matches.
French cuffs are a fantastic opportunity to accessorize your suit with cufflinks.
You won’t find any buttons since the cufflinks pinch the cuff fabric together to close it.
Depending on the style of your French cuff, it may be folded or not.
A French cuff is typical of a formal or fancy dress code setting, though some trendsetters do dabble with pairing French cuffs casually.
Single French cuffs are a traditional cuff style and very formal; they have no fancy folds.
It has two buttonholes with a cufflink threaded through them.
A single cuff looks like a barrel cuff, only without the button.
Because this style is typically geared toward a black-tie dress code, it isn’t very common.
Double French Cuff
When most people imagine French cuffs, this is the style they tend to picture.
Double French cuffs are extra long and folded back over themselves; that’s why they are called “double.”
The cufflinks go through four layers of fabric instead of the two layers of the single cuff.
This style is also very fancy but is acceptable for any dressy social or professional setting.
Rounded French Cuff
Rounded French cuffs are similar to the standard double cuff, except the edge isn’t cut straight across.
It has a curved corner.
Rounded French cuffs are still dressy.
Shirt Collar to Match the French Cuff
Because of a French cuff’s formality, you must have a formal collar to go with it.
A tuxedo shirt or wing collar is the best choice, although a club collar is also an acceptable option.
Convertible Shirt Cuff
If you are looking for the most versatile option, check out a convertible shirt cuff.
It allows you to choose between buttons or cufflinks.
You’ll frequently find convertible shirt cuffs in a double cuff style, although they can also be found in a barrel style.
Convertible cuffs aren’t a common offering, especially if your dress shirt is off the rack. You’ll need to seek a custom-made dress shirt for one.
Cocktail Turnback Cuff
Possibly the boldest and most unique shirt cuff style, the cocktail turnback cuff is not a common finding.
This style is a barrel cuff that’s two times the standard length and folded back on itself like a double cuff.
This cuff stands out because the edges of the cuff are cut on the diagonal, so the folds are opened at the wrist.
Despite the double cuff foldback, this style has buttons, not cufflinks, as you might expect.
We can’t move on from this cuff style without mentioning that James Bond popularized cocktail turnback cuffs. Even from the 1960s, Bond is still fashion forward.
Mitered Shirt Cuffs
Some mitered shirt cuffs can be convertible, so you can change your look by adding cufflinks instead of your boring old buttons.
Converting your mitered shirt cuffs to cufflinks takes them out of the realm of barrel cuffs.
Mitered corners are already dressy, but swapping out your buttons makes this style even classier.
Mitered shirt cuffs give your dress shirt a slight panache, a small detail showing you pay attention to fashion.
They are also a good choice when you want to show off your stunning new wristwatch. Yes, people still wear those.