French Cuff Shirts

What are French Cuff Shirts?

The French Cuff is also referred to as a double cuff and is one of the two primary versions of a Link Cuff. 

French cuffs or double cuffs, are a type of shirt cuff that is twice as long as a barrel cuff and worn folded back on themselves. French cuffs were once considered to be more formal than button cuffs (barrel cuffs).  They are seeing a resurgence in the business environment, particularly in Europe.  Even though traditionally French cuffs could only be worn with more formal clothing, this is now not followed by all people.  Some people wear this type of shirt cuff without a tie or sports jacket.  The French Cuff dress shirt remains the preferred choice for semi-formal & black tie events. 

The French cuff shirt is a type of dress shirt.  A dress shirt, button shirt, button-front, button-front shirt, or button-up shirt is a garment with a collar and a full-length opening at the front, which is fastened using buttons or shirt studs.  A button-down or button-down shirt is dress shirt which has a button-down collar a collar having the ends fastened to the shirt with buttons.

Folded French Cuff Shirt

What is a shirt cuff? 

A cuff is an extra layer of fabric at the lower edge of shirt sleeve that covers the arm, at the wrist.

The original concept or the function of turned-back cuffs is to protect the cloth of the garment from fraying.  Also if they fabric did fray the extra fabric would allow the cuffs to be readily repaired or replaced, without replacing the entire garment.  In modern times, consumers generally purchase new shirts rather than repair the cuffs of old & worn shirts.

Cuffs are made by turning back (folding) the material, or a separate band of material can be sewn on, or worn separately, attached either by buttons or studs.  A cuff may display an ornamental border or have lace or some other trimming.

Except on casual attire, shirt cuffs are generally divided down one edge and then fastened together, so they can let a hand through and then fit more snugly around the wrist.  

The divided shirt cuff are primarily designed in three distinct variations.  The primary difference between the options is the way the cuff is fastened.

Barrel Cuffs or Button cuffs have buttonholes on the one side and buttons on the other.  Some shirts use one button and others use multiple to allow the fit to be adjusted.

Link cuffs have buttonholes on both sides and are meant to be closed with cufflinks or silk knots.  They are most commonly fastened in either the "kissing" style, where the insides of both sides are pressed together.  Link cuffs come in two kinds:

  • Single cuffs: the original linked cuff, are required for white tie and are the more traditional choice for black tie.  Also, some traditionalists may wear this style with lounge suits as well.

  • French Cuffs or double cuffs: as explained above on this page, they are twice as long and worn folded back on themselves. French cuffs were once considered to be more formal than button cuffs, although they are seeing a resurgence in the business environment, particularly in Europe.  Even though traditionally French cuffs could only be worn with more formal clothing (and not a sports jacket), this is now not followed by most, while some even wear these cuffs without a tie or jacket. They remain the preferred choice for semi-formal, black tie events.

Convertible cuffs may be closed with buttons or with cufflinks.

Anatomy of the single or double cuff: The fabric is folded back onto itself, thus the inside of the shirt sleeve becomes the outside of the cuff and the outside of the shirt sleeve, becomes the inside of the cuff.

French cuffs shirts are a type of dress shirt.  Many fine retailers sell this type of shirt for both men and women.  If you are looking for men’s French cuff shirts or women’s French cuff shirts, you can shop stores such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, etc.  They may not always have this style in stock, but they will most likely be selling them if they are in style this season.

French Cuff Shirts

Learn about other shirt styles in our fashion terms section.

What does French Fries, French Onion Soup, and French Cuff Shirts all have in common?  That’s correct, they all have the word “French".

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