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.