Ask Belle: How to Replace Buttons

Aug 13, 2015

Belle: 

You often mention that you would change the buttons on jackets or suiting that you show us. Would you consider doing a post on your thought processes for such an alteration? (E.g., general rules on what size/type/color considerations you think about? I’d also appreciate your favorite resources for nice buttons.)

Thanks, JH

Most women don’t realize that the buttons can make or break a jacket.  Cheap-looking buttons, buttons that are the wrong color, or buttons that have odd embellishments can all make a garment look tacky and cheap.  Changing them is an inexpensive way to lift the piece out of the mire.

The last item I mentioned changing the buttons on was this hot pink suit from Kasper.  The buttons have this strange floral shape with a rhinestone in the middle (seriously?).  To replace them, I’d have my tailor search out a similarly sized button in a similar shade of pink.

When changing out the buttons, size matters.  In most cases, a button of equal size is the best choice.  In others, you may want to choose a slightly larger button.

If you can’t find a button in a similar color, there are always the old standbys: wood, tortoise, gold medallion, and mother-of-pearl.

Good buttons are hard to find.  Usually a good tailor can track down nice ones, but since so few people sew now, even they can have trouble.  Etsy and eBay are great places to look for good quality buttons.  Try searching for vintage buttons, and always get a matched set.  If you’re really in a jam, I’ve been known to go to the Goodwill and buy clothes just so I can scavenge the buttons.

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  1. Sally says:

    I would be wary of choosing a new button larger than the old one, lest you end up with buttonholes that are too small for the new button.

  2. Anne says:

    If you are in DC, G Street Fabrics in Rockville has amazing buttons. In NY and LA check out Mood Fabrics (of course). In San Francisco, Britex Fabrics has an entire floor of buttons. In Portland, OR, the Button Emporium is an amazing collection of new and antique buttons. I’m a bit of a button freak and there are wonderful things out there if you go someplace other than your average Jo-Ann’s.

  3. MaryMary says:

    Do you have a relative who sews? My mother has a button box full of buttons that are older tha I am.

  4. cara says:

    Hi Belle! Love your blog and I love that pink Kasper suit too. I’ve got a styling question for you, what would you wear underneath a suit like that? A black camisole? Blouse? I always have a hard time figuring that out.

  5. Emily says:

    Great way to make a cardigan look expensive too. I had got a Banana Republic sweater on major sale that had big rhinestone buttons on it. Changed them out for mother of pearls and it looks awesome.

    • Belle says:

      Good call. OR sometimes when the cardigan has “holiday buttons” (sequins, rhinestones, etc) you can switch em out to make it basic.

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