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Button-Down Collars Came About Because Of Horseback Riding To Stop A Shirt Collar From Constantly Flapping In Your Face.

They’re a common part of any modern day garment, buttons. They’re found on our shirts, our jackets, our pants, and pockets, button fly jeans are a popular alternative to zipper pants. Buttons get in everywhere, and come in every imaginable shape and size, and counting your buttons can be both practical and fun.

Count Your Buttons Day is a great opportunity to make sure all your garments are in order, and to ruminate on the idea of a life without these useful tools.

  • The word button is from the French word bouton, meaning bud or knob – buttons, as ornaments, date back several thousand years.
  • It wasn’t until sometime in the 13th Century in Germany that buttonholes first made an appearance and it was almost immediately a sensation, with them being nearly ubiquitous by the 14th century.
  • Until the 19th century, most buttons were used for men’s clothing. Hooks and lacing were the norm for women’s clothes. After the mid-1800s, women became the primary consumers of buttons
  • in earlier times, buttons provided social commentary on the era and often defined social status and wealth. The French King, Francis I (1515 to 1547), is reported to have had thousands of gold buttons on a single coat.
  • buttons made before 1918 are defined by the National Button Society (NBS) as old (NBS Division I) and those made after 1918 are defined as modern (NBS Division III).
  • The oldest button ever found was in the Indus Valley Civilization which is now Pakistan. The button is made of a curved shell and dates back 5,000 years!
  • In 2600-1500BCE buttons were used as ornamentation instead of as fasteners.
  • Men’s garments wrap from left to right with the button on the right side. Most men were right-handed and dressed themselves whereas servants dressed women of wealth. Placing them on the left side made it possible to face the buttons while completing the task. Also, most women were right-handed and held their babies in their left arm to nurse. Easy access was essential.
  • Women’s buttons are sewn onto the left side of the garment. The reason for this is that buttons were very expensive and only wealthy women with domestic help could afford them. So to make it easier for the help to button up they were on the ‘wrong’ side.
  • Button-down collars actually did serve a purpose and horseback riding was the catalyst! Imagine going out for a hack with your shirt collar constantly flapping in your face. Rather annoying, huh? Shirt collars were originally attached separately so buttoning them down was the perfect solution, especially for polo players. In 1896, Brooks Brothers ran with the idea of calling the shirt, as we know it today, “The Original Polo Shirt.”
  • Buttons on sleeves were Napoleon Bonaparte’s idea. First seen during the time he ruled, buttons on sleeves are now taken for granted. Rumour has it that Napoleon did not want his soldiers to wipe their noses on their sleeves so he told his uniform makers to sew buttons on the sleeve ends.
  • During the World Wars, the British and U.S. military used button lockets which were buttons constructed like lockets to store compasses.
  • How many different kinds of buttons did the British Army in France use during World War I? 367 different kinds. Buttons were considered so important to front line troops that any kind of button could be requisitioned and delivered within eight hours. The British Army spent $500,000 per year just for the paste used to polish brass buttons.
  • What were the first buttons in the United States made of?  Metal. In 1750 Caspar Wistar, a German immigrant began to manufacture brass buttons in Philadelphia.
  • What does the expression “brass button” suggest? Authority and service.


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