When buttons were first made they were simply employed for decorative purposes ; in the fifteenth century they were used as fastenings. Buttons are also used as a mark of rank or to denote an order. The Chinese mandarin has the choice of nine different kinds of buttons to designate his grade or rank. He wears his button in his official cap or hat - beautiful and artistic buttons they are, too. The first grade button is made of a transparent red stone, then comes a red coral button, then one of sapphire, a blue stone, and the next of crystal. A button of white shell, plain gold, embellished gold, and, for the ninth grade, a silver button.
Any one of these ideas could suggest delightful possibilities for buttons which we may adapt to our own use. The button may present the one distinctive touch of colouring to a gown or hat or cloak. There was a time when each button had to be fashioned by an artist in his craft. Some were made of needlework, others of brass, and even iron. Exquisite gold buttons,set with jewels, others of ivory or delicate filagree work. Some of paper, porcelain, and even the casein of milk.
Then came the commercial progression. Buttons were stamped in dies. Pearl buttons were made from oyster shells, and polished by machinery. Beautiful glass and porcelain buttons followed from Bohemia, and now to-day buttons of all
An otherwise plain costume will have a smart appearance if trimmed with buttons on skirt and bodice. An alternative arrangement would be to set the buttons in groups of twos and threes sizes, shapes, and materials are poured forth into the mercantile stream in their millions.
For our clothes and millinery buttons may prove truly friends in need, especially if they are chosen for their quaintness and beauty, and never - when required for decorative purposes - for their utility.
A plain hat may be smartened up considerably by one handsome button. We will suppose the hat is of black velvet, and we have a feather, but it requires something to finish off the stem of the feather, and suddenly we remember an old paste button. It looks a trifle dull, so we polish it carefully with a piece of tissue paper, place the feather at a becoming angle, and then add the glittering button, and it is surprising what a smart touch it will give.
A Frenchwoman will do wonders with a button and a twist of ribbon. There may be one smart bow at the side of a hat. Then treat the button as a buckle. Perhaps it is a hat which requires a touch of colour - let the button give that vivid addition.
If we cannot find a button to suit our gown, cut out a large round of velvet, and embroider little circles in filoselle silk in any desired colour. Cover a button-mould with this, and we have a pretty finish for the bow of the hat. Such a button would also make an artistic note on a hat which is swathed in lace, silk, or fur. An embroidered button placed on a hat entirely composed of fur would be uncommon and attractive.
Two large buttons made of silk cord look well on a long coat of velvet, silk, or fur; they may be further embellished with French knots in gold thread. By adding an odd dull gold bead or two, such buttons may assume quite a barbaric appearance. These buttons are also handsome when embroidered in gold or silver cord, with French • knots worked in pretty pastel shades of mallard floss.
Sometimes one may pick up quaint polished or beaten copper buttons at out-of-the-way shops. One of these dull orange-copper buttons makes a most picturesque adornment for the burnous-like evening cloak of soft silk. In this case the button can be permitted to become useful as well as ornamental, and may fasten the cloak around the shoulders by passing it through a loop which has been made of silk cord for its reception.
An old paste button may gather a scarf together, and prove useful as well as decorative
The same kind of button may loop up one of the wide silken scarfs edged with fur or swansdown which many women affect for evening wear. When used for this purpose the button should be placed in a suitable position, so that it would rest on the shoulder when passed through the silk loop.
There are those who may be fortunate enough to have a set of old paste buttons. At the same time, they may also possess a fur muff which is rather worn in places. The fur may be arranged carefully in strips, with strips of velvet between each strip of fur. The old paste buttons will look charming on the two strips of velvet, which could be finished off with silk tassels. This is an artistic way of renovating or enlarging a muff at little cost.
Nothing looks better on a rough turquoise or rose-coloured frieze coat than a set of the beautiful shaded porcelain buttons which can be bought at art depots. They are made in most exquisite colourings, some of rose, others of gold ; others, again, remind one of the fires of the opal, whilst another may possess the bewitching colourings of the autumn leaf. These buttons need not be placed in a straight line, but can be arranged on the coat in twos or threes, and so present a more artistic effect. The skirt which belongs to such a coat may be cut up each side to show a panel of the same material, or one of velvet or silk to match the collar of the coat. Three of these artistic buttons make a pretty embellishment for this panel.
For the girl who admires the uncommon, two large buttons made of silk and thickly sewn with beads will appeal irresistibly. Coral and steel or white beads make an excellent combination. They are placed on the bust of the blouse, and between each button there are loops of silk cord finished off with silk tassels.
For an evening bodice, cover the button-moulds with silk embroidered with pearl, crystal, or gold beads; the loops between each may be made of strings of beads to match.