Making their debut to the forefront of men’s fashion in the 17th century, cuff links became the upscale alternative to self-tie cuff strings. They’re chic. They’re crafted from precious metals. And then they’re hand-painted or jewel-encrusted for an extra luxe look. While these fasteners all serve the same purpose, there is some disparity in the ways they attach, so it’s important to know which backing will work best for you.

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Bullet Back
Quite possibly the most common cuff link, the bullet back has a capsule-shaped end that rotates 360 degrees. The range of motion makes this type easy to fasten, thus securing its status as a guy’s go-to.

Whale Back
With a curved post and swivel-tail end, it’s clear why this variety got its name. Similar to the bullet back, the whale-back fastener swivels up to 180 degrees for easy slip-in styling.

Fixed Back
As the name implies, the fixed back is comprised of one solid piece of metal. Compared to its counterparts, this link is the most rigid and makes for a very tight cuff.

Chain Link
Regarded as the first cuff link in its class, the chain link serves as a more formal choice. The two decorative ends are often reversible and connected by a short chain, offering both easy motion and a dose of serious style.

By Jillian Hudon, Staff Writer

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May 7, 2013