Thursday, 3 November 2016

Boot buttons

Nowadays, most footwear is designed to fasten with Velcros, zippers and snaps, some have shoelaces, and some even have parts made of elastic to minimize the fuss with fastening and unfastening. But in the olden days, especially women's boots had a row tiny buttons on metal loop shanks. They were popular until 1940s, when other closure systems became more widespread.


The boot buttons above are quite a luxury compared to most of the kind, made of glass and painted in beautiful colours, like mint green or pale pink. Most boot buttons, however, were made of enameled metal, and the colours were fer less exciting.


No wonder women took a long time to get ready, when they had to fasten all the buttons up the calf, even if they had ankle boots. Nonetheless, in mid-19th century, someone has come up with a very clever idea how to speed up the process and a button hook was conceived.

The button hooks were useful also for waistcoats and gloves, which usually had planty of tiny buttons.

As you can see, the buttonhooks came in all possible shapes and sizes, with the handle made of various materials. The collection above, from Bedford Museum, shows hooks with wooden and bone handles. I can also see some antler handles here, and below, a few luxury silver ones.

Button hooks were so ubiquitous that some companies used to give them out for free as a form of promotion, with the brand name of the company engraved on the handle. I guess these were really useful! You can read more about the history of this unusual invention on this website dedicated to buttonhook collecting.

Nowadays, boot buttons, if they are sewn to boots and not glued, are usually only for decoration, with an alternative, more practical closure concealed somewhere else.

These boots are no longer for sale
but you can find plenty more on etsy!

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