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Should I remove extra buttons on my dress shirt's cuff?

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The question

My shirts come with two cuff buttons. I have sturdy wrists and so I only use the inside button, to create a roomier cuff. But this leaves the outer button visible. Is that cool or should I remove it?

The answer

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I am always impressed when I hear from someone more obsessive than me. To be honest, I have never noticed a visible shirt-cuff button and felt one way or another about it. Then I went and looked at my shirts and I realized that the cuffs might indeed look a little sleeker without an extra useless visible button. (This is like the Peanuts cartoon in which Linus tells Lucy he's aware of his tongue, to which Lucy scoffs; then we see her alone in the next frame looking worried – she's become aware of her tongue.)

It started to seem rational: After all, we do, as a general principle, try to conceal all our other straps and stays (suspenders, zippers, the cheap metal sliders on bow ties). But if I do remove the buttons that have long been there (and doubtless long ironed-over), they will leave a visible outline on the shirt, which will be even more noticeable. So I don't think it's worth it. My solution: Avoid buttons altogether.

There is no cheaper luxury than heavy French cuffs; they make the dullest suit feel powerful.

Russell Smith's latest novel is Girl Crazy. Have a fashion question? E-mail

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