The evolution of the modern cufflink coincided with the development of men’s shirt fashions. Once an undergarment that protected men from the rough fabrics of their outerwear, the shirt’s cuff and collars became visible—and ripe for decorative embroidery, ruffles, and ribbons to secure the cuffs—after the Middle Ages. In the nineteenth century, when starched cuffs made simple buttons difficult, the cufflink rose in popularity among the more monied classes until the Industrial Revolution allowed mass production that made them available to all. The adornment remained fairly simple until the Prince of Wales began wearing colorful Faberge links and a fashion statement—at the time, one of the few for men—was born. (You’ll find ample evidence of the diversity now available when you shop at Vienna Jewelry on Maple Ave.)
Today, shirts with buttons are readily available and there’s no real need for cufflinks other than to maintain a more formal tradition and for men to make personal fashion statements. Though Woodstock nearly obliterated cufflinks (many family heirlooms were repurposed as earrings), the return of traditional values in the eighties saw a resurgence. Today, cufflinks express individual style with logos, mascots, colored stones, animal shapes, precious gems, fabric, enamel, and more. There’s no limit to what you might find when you visit pawn shops in Vienna, VA.