Originally Posted by Despos
It is proper to have white contrasting collar and cuffs made from the shirt cloth. White cuffs are an affect of modern times.
I bow to your expertise on most things tailoring, Despos, but I am not sure it's as simple as this. I would say that both are 'proper' in their own way (and probably equally unusual or anachronistic). This is how I see it - please tell me if you think I'm incorrect on any aspect...
Given then the use of contrasting white collars and cuffs originate from when both were seperate items (i.e. easily replacable) and white was the natural replacement colour, both collar and cuffs in white would seem to be quite old - this practice starts in the early C19th - before which shirts just didn't have stiffer collars and cuffs in the same way (and there's a whole complicated history there...). Most aristocatic men and bourgeois urban professionals wore white (and originally, linen) shirts, however, as opposed to the unbleached off-whites and later, blues, of working men. When coloured shirts entered the upper echelons of society in the early C20th, the collars and/or cuffs remained white (and the collars remained seperable until much later than the cuffs).
However, for much of the C20th, there seems to have been a growing transatlantic separation. The contrast collar but with self-colour cuffs became a norm in American trad clothing but white contrasting collar and cuffs remained in the UK for longer. They both largely died out by the 1960s, except in the upper echelons of the financial industries in the UK and in formal morning dress. However, in the USA, the 1980s saw a revival of contrast collar and cuff shirts associated first with the financial industries, along with bold pinstripe suits with strongly padded shoulders etc., which was essentially a gesture of power (in appropriating what had been both the global role, and the - correctly or incorrectly - perceived style, of British banking). This then spread all over the place because of Hollywood film treatments of this culture - and produced some pretty awful popularizations of contrast collar and cuff shirts as fashion or 'clubbing' items etc. The contemporary association of contrast collar and cuffs therefore is with either the highly affected style of Wall Street in the 1980s or its fashion aftermath, however for those of us who are of British (or indeed, New England) origins, it has other, older cultural associations and form.
Of course, I may be entirely mistaken, and be a deluded and self-justifying victim of Wall Street...