Shirt Architecture 101 Part II - Collars and Cuffs

Shirt Architecture 101 | Part II – Cuffs and Plackets

Part II – Cuffs and Plackets

Any man worth his salt needs to be able to choose the most appropriate cuffs for an occasion.  Here’s a breakdown and some tips.

Shirt Architecture 101 - Cuffs and Plackets - Button CuffBarrel/Button

The simplest (and most versatile) of the cuffs.  Depending on the style of shirt, can be worn with a tie, or dressed down with a pair of jeans or chinos.  I do have a bit of a pet hate when these are worn with suits, though – I feel that a French cuff (up next) is best suited for this.  Feel free to wear them with blazers or jackets though.


Shirt Architecture 101 - Cuffs and Plackets - French CuffJust what it says on the tin – twice the length of a single cuff.  French cuffs are worn with cufflinks, and though some argue they are a bit too formal to be worn without a jacket, I really like the smarter and crisper silhouette they offer.  The double cuff is best worn with a suit, where its turned back edge peeks out from the end of the sleeve and really completes the look.

Shirt Architecture 101 - Cuffs and Plackets - Cocktail CuffPortofino/Cocktail

You don’t see many of these about, but you’ll definitely make a statement by wearing them.  They’re not called James Bond cuffs for nothing, after they were popularised by Sean Connery in Dr. No, and you’ll be as slick as our favourite secret agent when wearing these for a martini or four.  Also known as a button turn-back, they’re like a French cuff but without the faff of cufflinks, opting for buttons instead.


I bet you thought we were done, didn’t you! Nearly – but we’ve got to talk about plackets first.  The placket is the bit that the buttons attach to on the front.

Shirt Architecture 101 - Cuffs and Plackets - Placket FrontPlacket Front

Confusingly, plackets is a bit of a catch-all term, and you can have a type of placket that doesn’t have a placket. Make sense? No? I’m not surprised.  Anyway, this is the most common type of placket, and is formed by folding the edges back on themselves.

French FrontShirt Architecture 101 - Cuffs and Plackets - French Front

For the French front, there is no placket.  Gives a nice clean look to the front of the shirt, so can be found on both casual and formal items.

Shirt Architecture 101 - Cuffs and Plackets - Fly Front PlacketFly Front

More often than not, fly fronts will be found on evening shirts.  A flap of material is formed that covers the buttons.

Stud/Tuxedo Front

These are as formal as they come – either the top four buttons are removable, or there are no buttons altogether. Rather than buttons, the front of the shirt is closed with studs.  You’ll only get to wear this on really special occasions; think black tie, when you get your OBE or go to the President’s Ball.

So that’s it for Shirt Architecture! You can catch up on Part I here.

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