A strange outcome of the all-casual all-the-time office is that it just makes some of us want to dress nattier. We particularly like the low-key flash of French cuffs -- very Rat Pack chic. But looking like you stepped off the set of Ocean's 11 doesn't require a win at the tables. Inexpensive links can be lighthearted, campy, even bordering on tacky, to liven up a dark-suit-white-shirt combo. Besides, even if you don't wear them, they are -- like earrings for women -- an evergreen solution to the gift problem. One more pair never hurts.
The classic silk knot is, of course, a preppy perennial. Brooks Brothers has the basic colors and some restrained combinations ($8), and Paul Stuart, a block away, has brighter parti-colored versions ($7.50): Visit both stores before you buy. Also at Brooks, a dull-finish update of the plain silver oval ($75) nicely treads the line between white-shoe and downtown. (It tips in favor of the former if you get it engraved.)
Alphabets, the local gift-shop chain, is big on kitschy images: little tail-finned Cadillacs, Labradors, and these forties-postcard views pictured above ($25 to $40). Even more appropriate for the die-hard urbanite are the subway tokens at the New York Transit Museum's gift shops, whether you prefer the old Y-cut style (also available with a sterling silver or gold-plated bezel) or the current "5-Boro" model ($50 to $89). Paul Smith takes a more upscale approach to playful, as in this checkered enamel pair ($55). (Grab 'em if your initials happen to be p.s.) An absolute trove can also be found at The Missing Link, where owner Michael Rodriguez sells nothing but cuff links, vintage and new. The double-sided lapis lazuli pair pictured above ($65) is merely a sample of his stock, which ranges from dressy classics like this to Playboy bunnies and well beyond.
Alphabets (three locations; 212-579-5702); Brooks Brothers (three locations; 800-274-1816); The Missing Link, 40 W. 25th St., lower level No. 108; 212-645-6928); Paul Smith (108 Fifth Ave., at 16th St.; 212-627-9770); Paul Stuart (Madison Ave. at 45th St.; 212-682-0320); New York Transit Museum Gift Shop (three locations; 718-243-3060).
Picks of the Week
La Perla's sexy eveningwear, lingerie, and swimwear is marked down as much as 75 percent at its sample sale. 24 W. 40th St. (212-278-0121); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Fri. 9-7, Sat. 11-4; 2/26-3/3.
S. Feldman Housewares is one of several Upper East Side home stores that knocks the Lechter's model into a cocked hat. This week those powerful and indestructible Miele vacuum cleaners, normally $620 to $1,170, are $499 to $1,059. 1304 Madison Ave., near 92nd St. (212-289-7367); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Sat. 9-6, Sun. 11-5; sale begins 2/26.