Casino cuff, flowback cuff, Neapolitan cuff, Milanese cuff, Portofino cuff. Some even call it the James Bond cuff. You might know it as any of these names, but Turnbull & Asser calls it the two-button turnback cuff and Frank Foster calls it the cocktail cuff. Tom Ford calls it the Dr. No cuff when they made it for Spectre. I’m partial to the cocktail cuff name myself. Terence Young, the director of Dr. No, From Russia with Love, and Thunderball dressed James Bond as he dressed himself. Not only did he bring Sean Connery to his tailor, Anthony Sinclair, but also to his shirtmaker, Turnbull & Asser, and Young himself wore cocktail cuffs.
I’ve read many things about the origins of the cuff, and most people say that they were designed for the James Bond movies and designed for evening wear. Turnbull & Asser claims to have invented them. Frank Foster says that he invented them, and in fact he made some of Connery’s shirts in Dr. No. Yet another story says they were invented for David Niven by Ede & Ravenscroft or Hawes & Curtis. The cuff origin’s may actually be from a century before James Bond wore them, and the true origins of the cuff are unknown.
If cocktail cuffs were designed for the James Bond films, they were not initially intended for evening wear but for only with lounge suits and sports coats. Sean Connery only wears cocktail cuffs with evening wear in Thunderball, his fourth Bond film. He wears them with lounge suits in all of his Bond movies except Goldfinger (in which he wore double cuffs with everything). Except for Thunderball, Connery always wears double cuffs with his evening wear. In You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever, Connery leaves the second button of his cocktail cuff open and let the cuff roll back a bit more.
Roger Moore wears cocktail cuffs on his Frank Foster shirts with his lounge suits and sports coats in Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun, and wears them with evening wear in The Man with the Golden Gun and in Moonraker. He also wears them with with lounge suits (and perhaps evening wear too, I can’t remember) in the final season of The Saint, and in The Persuaders he wears a single-button cocktail cuff with extra buttons to keep the turn-back in place, similar to a button-down collar. Moore goes back to the 2-button cuff for Bond, but the cuffs are cut differently in Live and Let Die than the ones that are in The Saint and The Man with the Golden Gun, though your really have to know what to look for.
Then there is Connery in Never Say Never Again, which I don’t include as part of the James Bond series. Connery wears the same button-down cocktail cuff that Roger Moore wears in The Persuaders, with both lounge suits and evening wear.
Cocktail cuffs can also be seen on Don Adam in the first season of Get Smart and on Dick Van Dyke in the last three seasons of The Dick Van Dyke Show. Martin Landau occasionally wears them in Mission Impossible. Peter Sellers wears them in What’s New Pussycat. I once spotted game show mogul Mark Goodson wearing them on an appearance on Family Feud. Peter Ustinov was also a fan. A lot of jazz musicians were very style-conscious in the 60s and too can be seen sporting cocktail cuffs.
There are about as many ways to design cocktail cuffs as there is to design collars, and creating an attractive and unique cuff is just as difficult as it is when making a collar. The turnback should be integrated into the design of the cuff and not look like it was merely stuck on. There really is no practical purpose to the cocktail cuff so at the very least it should look nice. The ends of the cuff should be rounded. If the ends are cut square they will easily get caught inside the sleeve of your jacket and the cuff will need frequent adjusting.
The image to the right is how Connery’s Turnbull & Asser 2-button turnback cuff looks unfolded. Turnbull & Asser’s cuff for Connery is designed to roll back and not just fold back. However, the cuff they make today is not the same as this one.
Next is Frank Foster’s cocktail cuff unfolded, as seen in The Man with the Golden Gun and Moonraker. Foster’s cuff folds back neatly, and it’s very clear exactly where the cuff is designed to fold.
The last design shows how not to cut a cocktail cuff. The corners are the top of the base section of the cuff will curl back while the corners at the end will get caught inside the sleeves. The makers of these usually put a heavy fusing inside so they don’t curl back, though that’s not a good solution for a poor design. Many online shirt makers make the cuffs like this, but most reputable makers save this design for women’s shirts.
This covers the essentials about the cocktail cuff (or whatever you like to call it) but if you have any questions feel free to ask.