09 November 2010

Cocktail Cuffs

As temperatures rise, so does my ire. Southern California has experienced in the last several days a sweltering Indian summer, minus the flies, dreadful odours, and dirty street urchins. Cooler weather will return soon enough and with it, the winter rains.

In the meantime the changing season is a good opportunity to reevaluate your dress shirt collection and maybe enjoy a G&T or three on the verandah. But do not strain yourself. Keep it simple and classic. The attention given to a man’s choice of suit and shoes should not extend to his dress shirts. Remember: men’s dress shirts are disposable. Don’t over-think it.

Let me set you straight about collars. The only acceptable shirt collar for orifice wear is the English spread collar, or cutaway collar. This pertains only to those in banking, finance, manufacturing, higher management, and wine. If you are a lawyer or creative type (i.e., media, advertising, public relations, government, and accounting) you do not actually work at a real job, as you are well aware, so the type of shirt you wear is irrelevant. Nobody cares. Neither should you.

Now let’s discuss cuffs. Double cuffs are common (in both senses of the word) and I avoid them for all but the most formal of occasions. You should too. The Americans call them ‘French cuffs,’ which, considering their dislike of all things French, is rather puzzling. In this country double cuffs are the mark of the parvenu, the grasping outsider trying to climb the social ladder. Because they are thought to signify a measure of sartorial sophistication, double cuffs adorn the wrists of every gauche Southern farm boy, urban ragamuffin, foreign MBA, and Noo Yawk shyster in corporate America. Avoid them if you can.

There is an alternative. Try cocktail cuffs. They are infinitely more suitable, and, as it happens, a growing favourite of mine. Cocktail cuffs, as you know, are also called turnback cuffs or flowback cuffs; I prefer the first name for obvious reasons. The photographic image (above) depicts film director Terence Young, ex-Irish Guards officer and director of the first, second, and fourth James Bond films: Dr. No, From Russia With Love, and Thunderball. Note the cocktail cuffs, for which Young was known and which were applied to the on-screen Bond character in the early films. There are several shirt makers that still offer the cocktail cuff, from the well-known to the more obscure, and if you decide to pick up one or two shirts with these distinctive cuffs I am certain you will be quite pleased with yourself.

One last thing. What are the origins of the term ‘cocktail cuff’? Interesting question. Archival research reveals that a number of prominent figures on the London cocktail circuit in the 1930s were credited with developing the distinctive cuff. Cuff links, it was noticed, invariably produced an annoying clattering sound on the Egyptian granite tops of hotel bars and became entangled in ladies’ silk undergarments. The cocktail cuff was seized upon as the perfect solution. It does away with the need for fussy cuff links, allowing a chap to enjoy his evening cocktail in silence without irritating his neighbours, for which it was designed, and permitting him to go forth in bold thrusting cuff and make love to his woman with rough Tweedlike efficiency.

14 comments:

Tabitha said...

I thought paragraph three was a hoot but that last sentence is hilarious! I didn't know about cocktail cuffs, I shall seek them out especially as I now know what they portend.

Anonymous said...

There are also known due to the BOND collection as Portofino cuffs

Matt said...

I, too, am a big fan of the cocktail cuff, and it's interesting to hear your findings about its origins. It would be nice if they were more readily available, and half the places that do make them can't even cut them properly.

James said...

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of your site is your skill as a wordsmith. Today's post is a great example.

A.E.F. said...

Admiral, Pondering whether being made love to by a tweed clad and cocktail cuffed suitor would leave me shaken, not stirred or rather stirred, not shaken... Thoughts?

A.E.F. said...

PS - Leaving my previous comment the word verification was 'sated' which probably answers my question...

John Wesley said...

Why the diatribe? (Oh now I get it! -- another flaming churner from Cod!)

Yes, the cocktail cuffs are quietly elegant. No argument there.

Re: double-cuffs:
Didn't know Duke of Windsor, Prince Charles, Cary Grant. et al, were in same league as "guache farm boys, ragamuffins, shysters."

Cufflinks are a different matter. Very dangerous territory.

Cod-- Did you not post a squib in which Douglas Sutherland mentioned a gentleman's acceptable adornment as "... a pair of crested cuff-links"?

And on what garment exactly might they be worn?

BTW-- It's the "creative types" that are responsible for the subjects you care about. They are the poets, artists, writers, musicians, film makers, designers, etc. that give value to your life -- and supply fodder for Admiral Cod's blog.

--JW

WerewolfinExile said...

Remarkable post, Admiral. Your skill at crafting gripping prose is second to none. Hilarious and insightful observations. Admittedly, cocktail cuffs are a huge hole in my current wardrobe, however, I find understated cuff links to be one of the few forms of acceptable men's jewelry. The other items being a timepiece and wedding band. Granted it's a fine line, but there is no shame in sporting a decent pair of cuff links.

Anonymous said...

I find the cocktail cuffs rather effeminent. You are correct that being a lawyer is not a real "job" - it is one of the only three professions -- law, medicine, and the priesthood.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 20:11, don't flatter yourself. It wasn't meant as a compliment.

Belle de Ville said...

"In this country double cuffs are the mark of the parvenu, the grasping outsider trying to climb the social ladder."
Oh, come on now, really?
The men I know who wear french cuffs and cufflinks are neither gauche nor trying to climb the social ladder.
If farm boys or New York shysters wear french cuffs, that's news to me.
In spite of my occasional disagreement with your posts, you do write so very well.

initials CG said...

I really enjoy, and I do mean 'really' enjoy getting my cufflinks caught in women' undergarments...

I hope, that on occasion, they do too...

Image Consultant said...

We are big fans of cocktail cuffs and our quartermaster recommends them for all well-dressed gents who cross our path. The photo of Terence Young was a nice find.

Cufflinkme said...

We're waiting for the next installment, Neat Feet


french cuffs