Perhaps it has been previously remarked on these pages as an example that even the choice of a button is important. Now let us focus on that proverbial button for a while and find out what governs our choice of this small but still very meaningful component of our costumes.
For a first and most important consideration the rule of propriety has this to declare about buttons: they must have meaning. A button must button something, it must be used only where there is at least some semblance of and opening. Let us repeat: to be chic, a button must have a raison d’être – namely, a button-hole or a loop to connect it. Buttons are inherently practical things, even those glimmering with jewels or wrought in gold, and their practical nature should be respected. A button placed in the middle of an expanse of fabric, just to satisfy a mindless whim, is a very lost and lonely little thing, without the button-hole to accompany it.
Buttons come in multitude of materials from the cheapest and most utilitarian to those fashioned from precious metals and pearls. They can be as small as pin-heads or large as saucers, completely flat or round like pepperberries, and besides the common round shape can be manufactured oblong, square, or any variety of fantasy shape, and about the diversity of colour found in buttons it is useless to even speak about as it knows no bounds. Because of this profusion of choice, it would be unwise to go in to the specifics of choosing a particular style of button to match a particular gown or coat, let it suffice to say that the apparent weight of button must match the weight and stiffness of the fabric, and moreover the fineness of the button must neither exceed nor fall below the style and use of the article of clothing it is attached to. For example, a sporty cardigan of coarse wool calls for sturdy leather buttons and would terribly clash with glass buttons, which are well suited to a delicate afternoon blouse.
Coat and jacket buttons may be of bone, mother-of-pearl, metal, or any material that dry-cleans successfully – although if you are infatuated with special buttons with uncertain cleaning properties, you can cut the buttons off before dry-cleaning and sew them back afterwards. It is slightly bothersome task, but extremely chic buttons are worth the extra trouble and anyway you should from time to time ensure the hold of your buttons with a few stitches of thread. Buttons for blouses and wash-dresses of linen or cotton must be washable, since it would be very tedious and taxing and practically impossible to clip off and reattach them for every wash.
Buttons for your outerwear, suit jackets and dresses may match the color of the main fabric, contrast, or harmonize with it. When using contrasting buttons, such as white pearls against navy, or silver on gray, consider whether such accents will be attractive with all your accessories. Sometimes cloth-covered buttons of the main material are your best choice. They do not wear particularly well, but it is usually not expensive to have two sets made at one time. Then you can sew on new buttons when the first set begins to look shabby.