Serious about style? Don't forget to accessorize those cuffs.
When it comes to everyday accessories, men have few options -- there's the tie, the watch, the briefcase. But there's an old favorite in the dresser drawer worth reconsidering: the cuff link.
These fashion statements of the wrist are making a comeback. They're being worn day and night and by everyone from college students to older men for whom dressing up never went out of style. Women are wearing them, too.
"Cuff links are always in," says Bozhena Orekhova, GQ's accessories editor. "They are one of the accessories that men can wear, like watches.
It shows a lot about your manners and how seriously you take your style."
Cuff links came into play in the 1600s when flamboyant King Charles II of England popularized a shirt with a lacy front and matching cuffs. (Charles had grown tired of using ribbon to tie his cuffs.)
They might have had their peak in the 1960s and '70s, but there has been a recent surge in interest in them as a key men's accessory. Style influences from celebrities such as designer Tom Ford and Justin Timberlake, who are pushing gentlemanly looks, indicate that cuff links will be hot for a while.
Prices range from a few bucks for a thrift-store find to thousands of dollars.
Neiman Marcus, which sells cuff links from John Hardy, King Baby and others, shows French cuffs and cuff links will be must-haves as more professional men -- or men simply looking to stand out in a sea of button-up shirts and jeans -- return to dressing up.
"By looking at a person's cuff links, you can tell a person's resume," Orekhova says. "It's one of the important men's accessories. It's something that will always be there and stay there. Since the English gentleman is back in style, people are trying to capitalize on that and design things that capture it."
Recently, jewelry designers have turned to nontraditional cuff-link materials such as bone, rubber, titanium, wood and various gemstones.
Styles vary from kitschy and comical (martini glasses and water-faucet knobs) to luxurious (David Yurman's black-diamond cuff links).
Lance Avery Morgan embraces this resurgence.
Morgan's cuff-link collection, including ones handed down from his father and grandfather, numbers about 150 pairs -- and it gets larger with each gift from a friend.
"I love that I can take a regular pair of tattered jeans and a white shirt and a pair of loafers and do a day or evening look with the right cuff links," says Morgan, who has dreams of one day designing his own line.
"It's a gift that offers a legacy. I don't know anyone who has thrown away a pair of cuff links."
At Mercury, a store in Austin, Texas, owner Steve Shuck says he has a few dozen people who asked to be on a will-call list when cuff links arrive. The store sells vintage cuff links from a vendor in New York.
He has noticed more men in their 20s taking an interest. Cuff links allow a man to express his personality or interest in a quiet way, Shuck says.
Mousumi Shaw, founder of nearby jewelry studio Sikara & Co., is planning to expand her cuff-link offerings. She already carries designs from European, Latin American and American jewelry makers.
"I got inspired to carry a cuff-link collection because of my brother, who's stylish and into cuff links," Shaw says.
Cuff links are the new tie when it comes to men's accessories, she says.
This summer, she plans to add a line of cuff links from designers in India.
"India has never been known for cuff-link design," she says. "And now we have a new gemstone line, and we have some more industrial designs that we're bringing up. There's a renewed desire for men to accessorize."
Austin, Texas, artist Stephanie Lindsey, who designs for Baby Jane jewelry, uses vintage postcards for her cuff links.
Her line seems to appeal to older men. They "identify with the images more because I use postcards from the 1940s, which probably reminds them of their parents' era."