Why a three button cuff, the philosophy of threes, and how it became our thing




It caught your eye didn’t it? Perhaps you thought it a bit much at first, thinking “not for me- best left to someone else”.  Is it an acquired taste like your early days with Scotch? That Durian you eyed in the Thai market with a bit of fear and trepidation? Hear us out on our reasons why and you might just find yourself a convert to the cuff. A bit like that Mescaleros album that you couldn’t get your head around at first listen but that quickly found its way to the top of your playlist.




From the very beginning we knew we were on to something with our shirts. We had just absolutely beautiful materials, a cut that was above and beyond the pale, a collar equally at home in the men’s clubs of St. James as the trattorias of Florence. What to do about the cuffs though? Do we do a double cuff?  A barrel?  Split the difference and do a cocktail cuff a la Dr No? We knew that our orange stitch was important to us (more on that in a later post) and that we wanted to differentiate our shirts in a subtle manner from the garden variety out there. As if the wearer was giving a slight nod, as if they where in on a discreet club, a visual handshake to those in the know.  So we have our signature orange stitch, our lovely mother of pearl buttons, and a desire to continue the feel of buttoning up something significant, something important that starts with the shirt front and ends with the cuff.


Still, a three button was not just creative whimsy. It’s eventual being came out of a problem we had with other shirts on the market. We like beautiful timepieces at Imperial Black. Hell, it’s even one of our obsessions. We have watches of all shapes and sizes. From the thinnest of classic Cartier tanks, to larger diamater IWC’s, Panerais, and Bell & Ross pieces. Normal shirt cuffs simply don’t accomodate the larger diameter watches in the collection. Conversely, the shirt cuffs that some manufacturers are making for bigger watches are nothing more than standard cuffs sized to a ham fisted giant. Not a good look when crammed into what supposedly passes for a slim cut shirt and absolutely sloppy when worn without something large on the wrist..



Inspiration comes from the most obvious of places. Several years back Martin Greenfield (who is really without peer in the US) made a suit for me.   Whilst waiting for a flight in Heathrow  I ended up talking about said suit with an older gentleman from Zurich (every bit the Swiss banker you no doubt have in your head) and it hit me. We were talking working suit buttons as I absetmindedly unbuttoned and buttoned mine. Some like the look of a bespoke suit with a sleeve button casually unbuttoned, others find it a bit show offy and like things buttoned up smoothly. No matter the side of the divide you land on there is something wonderful about a real working cuff and a three button variant seemed just the thing for our watch issues. You know our stance on oversized single buttons, two does very little for a larger watch, three is perfect and is a number that for some reason all of humanity has been drawn to through the ages. Socrates would no doubt have worn a three button cuff given the opportunity.



We called the workshop in Italy, babbling on about trinities, three-peats, tri-fectas, grand slams, and god knows what else.  A week later the cuff is born which looks every bit the business.  A slender gauntlet that exits a well tailored suit sleeve in the loveliest of ways, a mitred edge as a perfect off-set for a watch, our mother of pearl buttons and stitching becoming front and center.  An object of beauty at the end of a sleeve.  Is it a bit much for some? Quite possibly.  Is it just rtight for others? Undoubtedly.  Does it look amazingly rakish when the first button is left undone?  Does it ever…..



Postscript: For those who require a philosophical answer let’s just say that our three button configuration represents our past, our present, and our future.


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