Style Defined: Barrel Cuff
A standard dress shirt cuff with multiple customization possibilities
Whereas a French cuff was the standard OG cuff back in the day, these days you’re probably far more likely to find shirts with a simpler kind of cuff – the one you’re used to seeing on your OCBD’s and standard OTR dress shirts.
This style is most commonly known as the barrel cuff, due to its resemblance to a barrel in construction. While the sides of a French cuff sleeve are fastened face-to-face, resulting in a teardrop shape when viewed straight on, the sides of a barrel cuff shirt overlap and are fastened with a button, creating a cylindrical ‘barrel’ shape.
Barrel cuff shirts aren’t necessarily formal or informal, but they do tend to favor the casual end of the spectrum. They can be perfectly appropriate in all but the most dressy of circumstances, but shouldn’t be worn in white or black tie attire. On the other hand, at times when a French cuff with links feels too dressy, a barrel cuff can easily lower that level of formality.
Now, the term barrel cuff is actually a bit of an umbrella term, as there are many different types of barrel cuffs. The first customization will come in the form of the number of buttons. One button on the cuff along with one gauntlet button halfway up the sleeve is the most basic and the most common.
That said, you’ll find options with two and even three buttons at the cuff. Personally, I think three is slightly overkill, but opting for two buttons adds a level of strength and formality to your look and can elevate a simple dress shirt to a higher sartorial level. Impeccably-dressed TV President Frank Underwood rocks this style all the time, and an FU endorsement is enough for me!
Other customizations include fused vs. stitched construction, varying levels of stiffness, and the finishing of the cuff hem, whether it be mitered, rounded, or square. Most of these choices really come down to personal preference and don’t necessarily affect the formality or wearability of the style, but can make all the difference in the world to a true style connoisseur.
Thanks for reading.
He Spoke Style