Button, Button,
Who’s Got the Button?

You must remember that button game from childhood along with memories of rummaging through Grandmother’s button box, basket or tin. A Grandmother’s button box could delight children for hours with exciting colors, shapes and textures of hundreds of buttons, large and small. Grandmother could always remember the exact garment from which any particular button came. Buttons were an important commodity and once a garment was too worn to wear, the buttons were removed to be used again.

The history of buttons holds many secrets about the past and the civilizations that used them. Archaeologists even found buttons or button-like objects in pre-historic burial grounds. The Crusaders, returning from battles in the Middle East, are believed to have introduced the buttonhole to Europe. This significant invention had a great impact on fashion, since fabrics could now be overlapped and buttoned. Kings and queens even had buttons inlaid with gems to signify their wealth and status. During the 17th century, as garments became more form-fitting, the button gained importance for both its decorative and utilitarian features. Buttons were used predominantly on men’s fashions (waistcoats, vests and breeches). In the 18th century, buttons became a craze as “decorative” items on women’s clothing since, at that time, women were still fastened into their clothing with laces and hooks. However, the importance of buttons for men’s clothing dominated the industry until the mid 19th century when buttons, both functional and decorative, were prevalent in both men’s and women’s fashions.

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