With the modern workplace becoming increasingly casual thanks to the technopreneurs of today, it’s time to talk about what it means to dress business casual or ‘Smart Casual’. In an attempt to help with the confusion over what smart casual actually means, this week we offer you some ways to wear your cufflinks more casually and embrace a more dressed down approach when it comes to your accessories.
But, first things first. The golden rule when it comes to any style of clothing, whether smart or casual, is to purchase pieces that fit you properly. Nothing destroys an outfit like an ill-fitting jacket, shirt or trouser. The first secret to looking smart is correct sizing. Think shoulders, waist and arm length. The second secret is to accessorise and that’s where we can help!
It’s easy to assume that the words ‘casual’ and ‘cufflinks’ shouldn’t go together, but with changing attitudes towards office attire and a more contemporary approach to ‘smart casual’, you could be wrong. Whether you are putting together an outfit for a laid-back summer wedding, a more dressed down look for the office or want to look your best for a dinner date, cufflinks are the perfect accessory for elevating your casual wardrobe. Just because you are dressing more informally, doesn’t mean that cufflinks should be ignored. A simple and engineered pair of cufflinks can show that you have great attention to detail, whatever the occasion. To give you a bit of inspiration, here are our favourite cufflinks for going casual.
Casual copper cufflinks
When accessorising a casual outfit, we recommend choosing a minimalist and timeless design so as not to draw too much attention. You want the raw material of your cufflinks to speak for itself, creating a subtle statement and a refined aesthetic that doesn’t leave you looking too overdressed. The clean faces of our Edward copper and Alexander copper cufflinks are ideal for this. Pair them with a classic white, pale blue or chambray cuffed shirt and a pair of cotton twill chinos. With the Alice Made This cufflinks, try Drakes for a great selection of shirts and a brand like The Workers Club or Margaret Howell for a contemporary, high quality pair of chinos to give you a clean and considered look.
Cufflinks and knitwear
Layering your cuffed shirt with some well-made knitwear looks smart, considered and still casual. A geometric pair of cufflinks will punch the cuffs and give an elevated look. Opt for this look if you need an outfit to see you from day through to night, work in a less corporate office or just want to experiment with your accessories and switch up your wardrobe staples. Our Kitson cufflinks or one of our hand-engraved James brass cufflink designs work particularly well with knitwear as the patterns, graphic silhouettes and added detail sits nicely against the texture of a weave.
The collarless shirt
Looking for a contemporary take on the classic white shirt? Go collarless! As we move into spring, a collarless shirt is ideal for creating a cool, collected look. We suggest wearing it under a light or striped seersucker jacket and with a silver or steel pair of cufflinks to give a fresh, crisp look.
We have spoken to many people asking ‘can I wear a suit jacket with different trousers?’ and ‘how should I wear different combinations of separates?’. Our answer is always, ‘Don’t be afraid to mix different jackets and trousers’. The bread and butter of separates, navy and beige are always failsafe options because beige is neutral and is discernibly complementary to navy. Although failsafe, it can sometimes be a little too predictable, so it is all in the detail and the accessories you choose. Alternatively, you can explore plaids, tweeds, bolder colours and patterns with your jacket choice and pair with beige, grey, navy or even denim bottoms to find a smart casual vibe that suits your personal style. A pair of silver cufflinks, like our Kitson, Erno and Bancroft designs, can add the perfect detail to your well considered separates.
The classic blazer
When we think of a ‘smart casual’ look, many of us will traditionally turn to a blazer. Questions like ‘what to wear with a blazer?’, ‘what trousers do you wear with a blazer?’ or ‘can you wear jeans with a blazer?’ always spring to mind. Worn over a shirt, a jumper or with a pair of jeans, a blazer is a great way to add structure to an outfit and look your best while still feeling comfortable regardless of the climate. A pair of cufflinks, like those in our aerospace collection, offer precise and industrial details that look fantastic combined with a blazer. They’re sure to catch the eye of the person you’re talking to, whether you’re raising a glass at a party or are just an animated talker. We love our Lucas steel and Oliver steel cufflinks for creating a crisp, casual aesthetic.
Be bold with colour
Colour combinations in men’s fashion can be considered limited, but really there are no rules. If you like bold colour, then go for it. Colour makes people smile and dressing casually is a great opportunity to have a bit of fun with colour. You can be bold with tones that you may not necessarily feel comfortable with in a more corporate or formal situation. Embracing colour in your accessories is also a little more subtle if you are too nervous to go for those bright trousers or that neon top. Our patina cufflinks were made for colour and have a beautiful, complex kind of vibrancy. Hand-finished by London-based patina artist Derek Bayley, no two pairs of our patina cufflinks are ever the same with the rich, deep finishes being achieved by expertly layering and oxidising different chemical combinations. The Bayley Prussian blue cufflinks, Bayley Luna silver cufflinks and Bayley Salmon pink cufflinks are some of our current studio favourites.
Yes, you can pull off shorts with a blazer or a cuffed shirt! You can make your cufflinks work across different seasons and climates. A simple and tailored pair of shorts in a bold colour means that you don’t have to pack your cufflinks away when the sun is shining. We love this look and, if you're contemplating this combination, you're probably the kind of dresser who's up for trying something new. This would be a nice outfit to wear on a holiday or for a smart occasion that doesn't require a full suit. It's a summer take on smart casual. Our tips here would be to go for fairly smart shorts and opt for chinos rather than denim or cargo. Choose a more casual blazer, perhaps something unstructured, or you could even choose a summery fabric like linen or seersucker cotton. Alternatively, you can skip the jacket, remove the tie and unfasten the top few buttons of your shirt, going for loafers or desert shoes rather than smarter lace-ups. When it comes to accessories, go for a brass cufflink from our aerospace collection. These would complement the climate and gleam beautifully on your sleeve.
The casual commute
Why not use your commute to dress down, while still dressing to impress beneath the layers. Commuting to and from work can quickly become monotonous. There is the balance to ensuring that your office attire is suitable for taking on both the boardroom and your morning commute with confidence. Whether you’re hopping on a train or taking the healthier route and going by foot or bike, keep things fresh and ensure you look your best while doing so. We suggest a bit of layering to accommodate the to-ing and fro-ing each day. A bomber jacket and a workwear over-shirt are great ways to layer up and treat your cufflinks a little more casually. Remove the layers for a meeting and reveal immaculate attention to detail with your cuffs. Finish your look with some wool-based jogging fit trousers and a pair of Common Projects white trainers. Another good option for a casual commute is to invest in a staple piece of clothing like a down-filled gilet. Thanks to practicality-loving designers, this mid-layer has become an essential for all. The beauty of a down-filled gilet is its weight – or lack of it – and its ease of wear. Brands, from Brunello Cucinelli to Uniqlo, have embraced this outerwear garment so you can choose to wear it under or over your suit jacket, enjoying this trans-seasonal essential. Whatever route you take, remember that layering is a great technique for bridging the seasons and maintaining a contemporary vibe, whatever the weather.
Opt for smaller cufflinks
The cufflink is a small yet integral accessory for any man’s wardrobe. A smaller cufflink design is also well-suited to a more casual look, offering a precise injection of personality and pared-back metallic tones.
Our Austin cufflinks work well here. They are a reversible and compact pair of cufflinks that are smaller in size than our traditional designs and come in silver or gold colours. They are a good everyday option, as are all of our stud cufflinks. With their straight and solid style of stem, our cufflinks have no chance of any fiddly, swivelling parts. They offer a pragmatic solution when compared to a more traditional cufflink that tends to require a higher level of finger dexterity and can be seen as too impractical for daily use.
Lose the jacket
Should you wear a French cuffed shirt without a jacket? There are no formal rules on the matter, so personal preference should be your guide. A bit of confidence goes a long way too. As the weather warms up, you can get away with just a coat and a shirt, leaving your jacket or blazer at home. Opt for a textured shirt and pair of cufflinks with a contrasting texture. Our hand-finished Bayley Luna silver cufflinks are a current studio favourite, with each pair possessing a unique character and quality of its own.
While there is still a little chill in the air at this time of year, with well chosen outwear, you can move seamlessly from the week into the weekend, ready to dress down when you get there. Choose versatile and functional pieces that look as great paired with your favourite cufflinks as they do dressed down for a Sunday lunch or a weekend stroll. A neatly cut overcoat can take the place of a blazer for informal smart casual events (where you’ll take it off anyway). Alternatively, the bomber jacket has been one of the most sought-after outerwear designs for the last couple of years, precisely because they’re so in tune with a more casual or laid-back approach. Use one to dress down a shirt.
A field jacket can also be a great choice. We would suggest going for a Private White VC jacket with their contrasting copper hardware to sit harmoniously with Alice Made This jewellery. Going for a vintage field jacket is a great option too. Finally try a classic mac or trench coat to offer protection from the elements, without adding unnecessary bulk or heat to your spring/summer look. Go single-breasted and beltless for a more casual look. You can go timeless and versatile with traditional hues of stone or navy, or choose it for a pop of colour, like orange, yellow, green or red, separating you from the crowd. Either way, these tones and colours will all work beautifully with our authentic colour palette, driven by our raw materials.
Pair your cufflinks with a bracelet
Not only are cufflinks brilliant for accessorising a casual outfit, cuff bracelets are too. Whether you prefer copper, silver, gold or a combination of all three, teaming your cufflinks with your bracelet can add interest to your casual wardrobe. We love stacking different widths of our Bancroft silver bracelets and wearing them with a pair of Bancroft silver cufflinks or our Erno silver cufflinks. Dressing casually doesn’t have to mean dressing without accessories or without refinement. You can go further and add rings, pins and more bling to your look. Pair with your watch or go for layering. Wear your jewellery or accessories with confidence and enjoy being a minimalist, with a piece or two streamlined in a single metal, or a maximalist, stacking and mixing your metals.
As many of us can be confused by what smart casual means, it’s reassuring to know that, as smart casual means nothing, it can mean anything. Part of the reason that smart casual is so hard to define is that it can mean radically different things in different contexts. It’s a state of mind as much as dress.
Need some more inspiration for wearing your cufflinks more casually? You can browse our full collection of cufflinks here and our full range of men’s accessories here. You can also follow us on Instagram @alicemadethis.