21st April 2022

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Sleeve Buttons: part 1

Terminology can be a slippery thing. A sleeve link, or sleeve-link or sleevelink (dictionary definition: two buttons, plates, or bars united by a link or short chain, and serving to hold together the two edges of the cuff or wristband: a common adjunct of men’s dress in the nineteenth century) may also be called a cuff link. But as the ‘cuff’ is merely the end part of a sleeve, where the material of the sleeve is turned back or a separate band is sewn on, it hardly matters!

Despite the above definition, they were also worn by ladies. The  detail from a 1861 advertisment below lists both gentlemen’s and ladies’ sleeve-links.

The Courier (Brisbane), 22nd June 1861 page 1.

In the Australian press, the term sleeve link was used from at least 1851 until 1971, whilst the term cuff link, cuff-link or cufflinks from 1853 until 2019: a considerable overlap with perhaps the former becoming redundant over the last half a century. Here are some images of ladies cuff links from Trove; oldest to latest.

The Australian Women’s Weekly, 29th April 1950 page 8. A “useful Sports Blouse of shuntung Rayon, with cuff link long sleeves.

The Daily Telegraph (Brisbane), 12th August 1954 page 19.

The Australian Women’s Weekly, 8th August 1956 page 43.