Just the Details: Choosing Buttons

I love buttons and how they come in so many shapes, sizes, colors and materials. They can be plain and functional, such as simple shell buttons on a button-down shirt, or statement-makers, such as handmade or vintage buttons on a special coat or cape. So many options!



Pleat Collar Shirt: The simple shell buttons on this blouse do not detract from the design details -- they are simple, classic and functional. 


Pleat Collar Shirt Detail: Especially on a shirt with a vibrant print, these simple buttons become purely functional. 


Curvy Coat: These textured silver metal buttons enhance the cool tone of the pink wool coating fabric and the silver snaps underneath the buttons. The raised neckline and shorter sleeves have a mod vibe to them, which I think is carried through with the button choice. 


Curvy Coat Detail: The buttons stand out and are attractive on their own, but they do not distract from the curved seams -- which are the main design features of this coat.


One thing you may not have thought about is how much buttons can enhance or detract from a garment. An expensive blouse with inexpensive-looking buttons can cheapen the look of the entire blouse. Conversely, a less expensive coat with special buttons can serve to elevate the entire look. If you find a garment you love but are not all that excited about the buttons, one option is to buy it anyway and replace the buttons!



Lantern Coat: Even though this coat is all black, the shiny glass buttons still stand out as a cool detail. 


Lantern Coat Detail: Here's a detail shot of the glass buttons and custom-covered snaps that function as the closure (so the beautiful buttons can stay decorative). I think the buttons add a quiet elegance to the entire garment.


 When choosing buttons, here are some tips!


Pick out a few different button options in a variety of colors and materials -- metal, plastic, shell, nut, fabric, etc. Explore different shapes as well, such as round, rectangular, square, flower-shaped, if they suit the overall design. You never know what might work once you place the button on the fabric, step back and scrutinize!


Measure the length of the buttonholes and choose buttons that are either the same length (if the buttons you are considering are flat and small, such as for a shirt or top) or 1/8" smaller than the buttonhole opening (important for buttons with shanks, larger buttons and thicker fabrics). Make sure to test out the buttons to ensure they fit the buttonholes without strain.


If you live near a fabric store with a large button selection (Britex Fabrics in San Francisco and Stonemountain and Daughter in Berkeley are the places I like to go to here in the Bay Area), take your garment and spend some time exploring the options. You never know -- you may discover the perfect button in a color, texture or shape that you never considered before!











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