Isaac Mizrahi
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There are no bad buttons, there are only bad people. How does that sound? OK?

[Small thing.] [Big idea.]

[Isaac Mizrahi on the Button]

No one knows who invented the button. It might have shown up as early as 2000 BCE. It was decorative when it first started, just something pretty sewn onto your clothes. Then about 3,000 years later, someone finally invented the buttonhole, and buttons were suddenly useful.

The button and the buttonhole is such a great invention. Not only does it slip through the buttonhole, but then it kind of falls into place, and so you're completely secure, like it's never going to open. The design of a button hasn't changed much since the Middle Ages. It's one of the most enduring designs in history.

For me, the best buttons are usually round. There's either a dome button with a little shank, or there's just this sort of round thing with either a rim or not a rim, either two holes or four holes. Almost more important than the button is the buttonhole. And the way you figure that out is: the diameter of the button plus the width of the button, plus a little bit of ease.

Before buttons, clothes were bigger — they were more kind of amorphous, and people, like, wriggled into them or just kind of wrapped themselves in things. But then fashion moved closer to the body as we discovered uses for the button. At one time, it was the one way to make clothes fit against the body.

I think the reason buttons have endured for so long, historically, is because they actually work to keep our clothes shut. Zippers break; Velcro makes a lot of noise, and it wears out after a while. If a button falls off, you just literally sew that thing on. A button is kind of there for the long run. It's not just the most elemental design ever, it's also such a crazy fashion statement. When I was a kid, my mom knit me this beautiful sweater. I didn't like it. And then I found these buttons, and the minute the buttons were on the sweater, I loved it.

If you don't have good taste and you can't pick out a button, then let someone else do it, you know? I mean that.