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Different Types of Buttons: Materials, Styles, and Uses (2024)

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types of buttonsImagine having a collection of buttons that adds a touch of color and creativity to your sewing room. From plastic to wood, coconut to metal, buttons come in various materials and styles.

In this article, discover the different types of buttons – their composition, sizes, and common uses. Whether you’re an avid collector or simply looking for the perfect button for your project, understanding the world of buttons will give you more control over your designs and add innovation to your creations.

Key Takeaways

  • Buttons come in a variety of materials like plastic, wood, coconut, leather, and metal, each with their own properties and benefits.
  • Buttons serve either functional or decorative purposes – functional buttons fasten clothing while decorative buttons provide aesthetic detail.
  • There are different button styles like flat buttons, shank buttons, stud buttons, and toggle buttons suited for different applications.
  • Beyond the basic types, there are unique button varieties like fabric buttons, glass buttons, rhinestone buttons, enamel buttons, resin buttons, and novelty buttons.

Types of Buttons by Material

Types of Buttons by Material
Now let’s explore the different types of buttons based on their materials.

Plastic buttons are lightweight and versatile, making them a popular choice for various garments.

Wooden buttons offer a natural and rustic aesthetic, while coconut buttons add an exotic touch to clothing.

Leather buttons provide durability and sophistication, while metal buttons exude strength and elegance.

Plastic Buttons

Plastic buttons offer a versatile and cost-effective option for adding functionality and style to your garments.

They come in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes, allowing for customization options that suit any design aesthetic.

Plastic buttons can be dyed using various techniques to achieve the desired color or pattern.

Additionally, they’ve a minimal environmental impact compared to other button materials since they can be easily recycled.

Emerging trends in plastic button design focus on innovative textures and finishes for unique decorative button applications.

Wooden Buttons

Wooden buttons are a popular choice for adding a natural and rustic touch to garments. They’re perfect for eco-friendly fashion enthusiasts who appreciate sustainable style and natural material accents.

Crafted from wood, these buttons come in various types, including shank buttons. With their unique grain patterns and earthy tones, wooden buttons add rustic embellishments to clothing items like shirts, dresses, jackets, or accessories.

Incorporating wooden button craft into your designs adds an element of warmth and timeless charm to your creations.

Coconut Buttons

Now let’s talk about coconut buttons, which are another type of button based on their material.

Coconut buttons add a touch of natural elegance and tropical chic to any garment or accessory.

These sustainable fashion choices are crafted from the shells of coconuts, making them environmentally friendly options for those who appreciate island-inspired designs.

Available in various sizes and shapes, coconut buttons can be used as alternative closures or decorative accents on clothing items.

Whether you prefer flat or shank buttons, there’s a coconut button design that will suit your crafted couture needs perfectly.

Leather Buttons

Continuing with our exploration of different types of buttons, let’s now delve into leather buttons.

  1. Eco-Friendly Elegance: Leather buttons offer a touch of sophistication while being environmentally friendly.
  2. Leather Buttoncraft Trends: Stay up-to-date with the latest trends in button crafting by incorporating stylish and unique leather buttons into your designs.
  3. Vintage Leather Revival: Bring back the charm and elegance of vintage fashion by using antique-inspired leather buttons on your garments.
  4. Custom Leather Embellishments: Personalize your clothing or accessories with custom-made leather embellishments, adding a touch of uniqueness and creativity to your style.

Metal Buttons

Metal buttons are a popular choice for adding durability and sophistication to various garments.

With their strength and elegant enamel finishes, metal buttons offer versatility in designs that can elevate any outfit.

They’re particularly fashionable when used in suit combinations, creating a polished and refined look.

Whether it’s coat buttons or jacket buttons, metal options adhere to button size standards while providing a touch of style that’s sure to impress.

Functional Buttons Vs. Decorative Buttons

Functional Buttons Vs. Decorative Buttons
Now let’s explore the key differences between functional buttons and decorative buttons.

Functional buttons serve a practical purpose, such as fastening or closure, while decorative buttons are primarily used for aesthetic appeal.

Understanding these distinctions will help you choose the right type of button for your specific needs, whether it’s adding functionality to a garment or enhancing its visual appeal.

Functional Buttons

You will frequently encounter functional buttons in various garments and accessories, serving practical purposes such as closures and fastening.

These buttons are designed for everyday functionality, providing utility in design.

They come in different sizes, materials like plastic or metal, and can be flat or shank buttons.

Functional buttons prioritize versatility over ornamentation, making them essential for practical fashion needs and ensuring that your clothing stays securely fastened throughout the day.

Decorative Buttons

As we delve into the realm of decorative buttons, let’s explore the distinction between functional buttons and their more aesthetically-focused counterparts.

Decorative buttons are a testament to artisan craftsmanship, embodying vintage elegance with eclectic embellishments. These artistic pieces go beyond their utilitarian purpose and serve as button art, showcasing cultural influences through materials like corozo, mother of pearl, enamel, and resin.

From intricate designs to bold colors and textures, decorative buttons add flair to any garment or accessory.

Different Styles of Buttons

Different Styles of Buttons
Now let’s explore the different styles of buttons that you can incorporate into your designs.

Flat buttons are sleek and minimalistic, perfect for modern aesthetics.

Shank buttons add a touch of elegance with their looped backings, while stud buttons offer a more rugged and edgy look.

Lastly, toggle buttons provide a unique and versatile option with their distinctive shape and functionality.

Flat Buttons

Continuing from the previous subtopic, let’s explore different styles of buttons with a focus on flat buttons.

Flat buttons are sleek and versatile, providing a modern touch to any garment or accessory. They differ from raised buttons in their smooth surface and lack of depth. Available in various sizes and finishes, including fabric-covered options, flat buttons offer endless possibilities for DIY crafts.

Their evolution throughout history has showcased their adaptability as alternative fastening methods while adding style to garments.

Flat Buttons vs. Raised Buttons

Button Finish Options

DIY Flat Button Crafts

Historical Evolution of Flat Buttons

Styling Tips for Flat Buttons

Shank Buttons

Now, let’s take a look at how often shank buttons are used in different styles of clothing.

Shank buttons exude vintage elegance and are popular for their unique fastening techniques. They come in various shapes, such as horn or bone, and can be customized to create couture embellishments.

While they’ve a rich history, shank buttons have also experienced a modern revival with contemporary designs incorporating toggles and studs for added style and functionality.

Stud Buttons

You frequently encounter stud buttons in various styles when you’re looking for different types of buttons.

Stud buttons have been used throughout history and come in a range of materials, sizes, and shapes.

They’re versatile and can be found on garments like shirts, jackets, jeans, bags, and even upholstery.

Whether made from metal or plastic, round or square-shaped studs add a touch of style to your clothing while also serving as functional closures.

Toggle Buttons

Looking for a button style that adds an interesting touch to your garments? How about toggle buttons?

These unique buttons have a fascinating history, dating back centuries. With their distinctive anatomy featuring a bar or loop and often made of materials like wood or metal, toggle buttons offer versatility in terms of uses and styles.

Whether you want to add a rustic charm or modern flair to your clothing, toggle buttons are worth considering.

Specialized Buttons for Specific Applications

Specialized Buttons for Specific Applications
Now let’s talk about specialized buttons for specific applications.

Sewing buttons are specifically crafted for attaching to garments and come in a wide range of materials based on fabric type and use.

Fashion buttons, on the other hand, are designed with a specific aesthetic appeal for fashion purposes and are considered complementary to clothing and accessories.

Suit buttons are primarily used for suits and coats, selected for their elegance and durability, while shirt buttons are tailored specifically for shirts, dresses, trousers, and lightweight fabrics.

Sewing Buttons

When it comes to sewing buttons, precision is key in ensuring a secure and functional closure for your garments.

From shirt buttons to pant buttons, wedding dress buttons to denim buttons, there are various button types and materials available for different uses.

Consider the size of the button in relation to your fabric weight and placement on the garment.

Remember that snaps can also be used as an alternative fastening option for added convenience.

Fashion Buttons

For those seeking specialized buttons for specific fashion applications, there are numerous options available to enhance your garment’s aesthetic appeal and functionality.

Fashion buttons come in a variety of types, materials, and styles.

Glass buttons add a delicate touch to tops, blouses, skirts, dresses, evening wear and accessories.

Rhinestone buttons bring sparkle and glamour to coats,jackets,dresses,and skirts.

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Suit Buttons

Choosing suit buttons is an essential step in completing your tailored ensemble.

Opt for shank or metal buttons in materials like enamel that offer durability.

These classic styles align with the formal aesthetic of suits, continuing their historical evolution in men’s fashion.

Place buttons strategically to allow easy fastening while maintaining a polished appearance.

Completing your suit with the right buttons demonstrates fine attention to detail.

Shirt Buttons

Since shirt buttons are tailored for shirts, dresses, trousers, and other lightweight fabrics, you’re selecting versatile options available in materials like bone or plastic when choosing buttons for these garments.

  • Size – match shirt buttonholes
  • Shape – flat, shank, or toggle types
  • Material – bone, plastic, wood, or shell
  • Color – coordinate with fabric
  • Weight – suit lightweight fabrics

While allowing for flexibility in styling lightweight garments.

Unique Button Varieties

Unique Button Varieties
Now let’s explore some unique button varieties that can add a touch of creativity and flair to your designs.

  • Fabric buttons are versatile and can be made from various fabrics, allowing you to match them perfectly with the garment.
  • Glass buttons provide a delicate and elegant look, often used in evening wear or accessories.
  • Rhinestone buttons add glamour with their sparkly appearance, while enamel buttons offer intricate designs on metal bases for a strong yet stylish option.
  • Finally, resin buttons provide endless possibilities with their versatility in shape, color, and pattern options.

Fabric Buttons

To further explore unique button varieties, let’s delve into the world of fabric buttons.

Fabric buttons have a rich history and are made from various materials such as silk, cotton, or linen.

They come in different types like Chinese knotted buttons and LSI button styles.

Fabric buttons can be used for both functional and decorative purposes in clothing and accessories.

Their placement on garments adds visual interest while allowing for easy fastening or closure options.

Glass Buttons

Glass buttons are a unique variety of buttons known for their delicate and elegant appearance.

They come in clear, colored, frosted, or etched glass and feature either a shank or drilled holes for sewing.

Common glass button types include faceted, rose-cut, and murano.

Size ranges from small delicate beads to large dress buttons.

Use care when laundering garments with glass buttons, which may require dry cleaning or hand washing due to fragility.

Rhinestone Buttons

Sparkling with crystals embedded in their bases, rhinestone buttons catch the light beautifully, making them a glamorous option to embellish evening wear and formal attire with their gleaming presence.

The sparkling crystals lend dresses, gowns, and coats an eye-catching elegance perfect for special occasions or black-tie events.

Base Material Sparkle Source Best Suited For
Metal Crystals Evening dresses
Plastic Rhinestones Bridal gowns
Ceramic Glass gems Formal coats

Enamel Buttons

You’ll find enamel buttons have a metal base coated in a shiny, durable enamel that allows for intricate designs and vivid colors on their surfaces.

Enamel button strength is due to the combination of the sturdy metal base and the protective coating.

These buttons are commonly used in shank designs for suits, adding an elegant touch to formal attire.

The history of enamel buttons dates back centuries, showcasing their enduring appeal and timeless style.

Resin Buttons

Continuing with our exploration of unique button varieties, let’s now delve into resin buttons.

Crafted from synthetic resin, these buttons emerged in the 1920s as a low-cost alternative with endless creative potential through molded designs.

Available in diverse sizes and shapes like balls, cubes, and novelty themes, resin buttons work for casual daywear across all fabrics.

Requires gentle handwashing as hot water may deform the resin.

Novelty Buttons

Novelty Buttons
When considering novelty buttons, focus on their usage in children’s clothing and accessories.

These shank buttons feature molded plastic tops in imaginative shapes that delight kids, like animals, flowers, cars, or stars.

Children love the whimsical variety, making novelty buttons extremely popular for decorative and playful purposes on kids’ garments, crafts, and hair accessories.

Novelty Buttons for Children’s Clothing

After covering the unique varieties, you’ll want to know about the novelty buttons meant for children’s clothing.

Focusing on safety, durability, washability, these buttons let kids express creativity.

Plastic shank buttons molded into fun shapes, bright colors, and cute designs suit children’s fashions.

Durable enough for play yet soft for comfort, they withstand washing.

Letting imaginations run wild, children participate in styling choices with whimsical options.

Secured properly, novelty buttons bring harmless joy.

Novelty Buttons for Accessories

Now, let’s explore how novelty buttons can add a playful touch to your accessories.

  1. Plastic Novelty Buttons:

    These lightweight and colorful buttons are perfect for adding a fun element to bags, hats, or scarves.

  2. Metal Novelty Buttons:

    With their shiny finishes and unique designs, metal novelty buttons can elevate the look of your jewelry or belts.

  3. Resin Novelty Buttons:

    Resin buttons come in various shapes and patterns that make them ideal for embellishing phone cases or keychains.

  4. Glass Novelty Buttons:

    Delicate glass novelty buttons can bring elegance to hair accessories like headbands or barrettes.

Button Size Comparison and Common Uses

Button Size Comparison and Common Uses
Let’s now explore the different sizes of buttons and their common uses. Understanding button size comparison is important for selecting the right buttons for your projects. Additionally, we’ll discuss three common types of buttons and their prevalence in clothing, as well as compare shank buttons to flat buttons to determine which is best suited for various applications.

Button Size Comparison

Button Size Comparison

With numerous options available, it’s important to compare button sizes in order to select the right one for your garments and fabrics.

Here’s a handy button size comparison chart that categorizes buttons as small, medium or large based on their diameter range:

│ Button Size │ Diameter Range  │
│    │ (inches)   │
│ Small  │ .25 -.50  ├ 
│    ├ ─ ─ ─    ├──> _Printable Version Available_ 
     ...     ...

Using this information will ensure that you choose an appropriate-sized button for any sewing project or clothing repair.

Common Uses of Buttons

You can easily determine the common uses of buttons by comparing their sizes and understanding their specific applications.

  • Button Size: Different button sizes are suitable for various garments, from small buttons for delicate blouses to larger ones for coats or jackets.
  • Buttonhole Size: The size of the buttonhole should match the button’s diameter to ensure a secure fit.
  • Button Type and Placement: Shank buttons are commonly used on suits, while flat buttons work well on shirts and dresses.

Understanding these considerations will help you choose the right buttons for your clothing projects with precision and control over their functionality in design innovation.

Three Common Types of Buttons

When choosing buttons for your garments, it’s important to consider the three common types available and their respective sizes and uses.

Here is a comparison of the most commonly used button shapes, materials, sizes, functions, and placements:

Button Shape Button Material Button Size Button Function
Flat Plastic Small Decorative
Shank Metal Medium Functional
Toggle Buttons Large Functional
Wooden Large Functional

Understanding these differences will help you choose the right buttons that not only enhance your garment’s aesthetic appeal but also serve its intended purpose effectively.

Most Common Buttons in Clothing

Narrowing down on the most common buttons found in clothing, you’re seeing plastic and metal shank buttons of sizes 16-20 lignes as the predominant types used for button-up shirts, coats, jackets, pants, and dresses.

  1. Plastic shank buttons – versatile, affordable option for button-up shirts
  2. Metal shank buttons – more elegant, used in suits, blazers, coats
  3. Size 16-20 lignes – ideal for balancing functionality and aesthetics
  4. Flat buttons rarely used – lack durability needed for high-use clothing items

Shank Buttons Vs. Flat Buttons

Let’s compare shank buttons and flat buttons, looking at their sizes and common uses.

Button Type Size Range Common Uses
Shank Buttons Small, Medium, Large Dresses, blouses, shirts, trousers
Flat Buttons Extra Small, Small, Medium Lightweight fabrics like silks, cottons, linens

Shank buttons have more versatility in sizing and are suitable for medium to heavy fabrics in garments like suits and coats. Flat buttons come in smaller sizes for lightweight, delicate fabrics in blouses, dresses and shirts.

Alternatives to Buttons

Alternatives to Buttons
When selecting closures, consider alternatives to buttons such as:

  • Hook and loop fasteners
  • Snap fasteners
  • Magnetic closures
  • Zippers
  • Velcro

These allow for adjustable and secure fittings while providing sleek, seamless designs.

Choosing the right non-button closure depends on the fabric, garment type, aesthetic, and ease of use needed.

Hook and Loop Fasteners

Carrying on from button size comparison and common uses, you’re likely familiar with hook and loop fasteners as alternatives to buttons for garment closures.

Invented in the 1940s, these handy closures offer adjustable fit and easy fastening.

Peruse options when where to buy.

Evaluate ease of use, flexibility, and durability when choosing hook and loop fasteners for your project.

Snap Fasteners

Snap fasteners show you a popular alternative to buttons for garment closures with their simple design and secure hold.

  • Easy to use
  • Durable
  • Provide adjustable and secure closure
  • Variety of colors and sizes

Magnetic Closures

You’re now looking at another button alternative – magnetic closures. These closures offer strength and durability, making them a reliable choice for securing clothing items. Their versatility and affordability make them a popular option in the fashion industry.

Magnetic closures are easy to use, providing a secure fastening mechanism without any hassle. Additionally, they’re lightweight yet durable, ensuring long-lasting functionality.

With their strong hold and stylish appearance, magnetic closures add both practicality and aesthetics to your garments.


If you’re looking for an alternative to buttons, consider zippers.

With a history dating back to 1851, zippers come in a variety of types like metal, plastic, invisible, and more for uses like closures, decor, and design accents.

Pros are strength, security, versatility.

Cons are potential breakage, jamming, visibility.

Assess your needs, but zippers can substitute buttons in many applications.


Attaching clothing with Velcro patches instead of buttons provides you a quick ‘n easy alternative for fastening garments.

The hook-and-loop fastener known as Velcro traces its origins to Swiss engineer George de Mestral in the 1940s.

Velcro offers adjustable, removable closures as an alternative to buttons, snaps, or zippers. It sees widespread use in shoes, jackets, accessories, and kids’ clothing for its versatility and ease of fastening.

Proper care through washing or brushing maintains Velcro’s gripping properties over repeated use.

Specialty Buttons for Delicate Garments

Specialty Buttons for Delicate Garments
When sewing delicate fabrics like silk or chiffon, specialized buttons can provide the right combination of gentle fastening and elevation of material.

Glass, pearl, shell, and ceramic buttons offer lightweight, non-abrasive closure while complementing the delicate drape and sheen.

Selecting specialty buttons allows you to protect fine fabrics while accentuating their beauty through considered design details.

Glass Buttons for Delicate Garments

One specialty button well-suited for delicate garments is glass buttons, which feature glass beads or delicate shanks made from clear or colored glass that complement sheer and lightweight fabrics beautifully while securing closures.

  • Provide a delicate yet secure closure
  • Available in a range of colors to complement fabric
  • Durable construction despite delicate appearance

The elegant and versatile glass button is decorative yet functional, securing lightweight fabrics in a durable yet refined manner.

Pearl and Shell Buttons for Delicate Garments

Frequently, you’re attaching pearl and shell buttons to delicate garments because they complement flowing, lightweight fabrics beautifully. With a historical elegance, these versatile buttons add sophisticated embellishment.

Their nacre composition makes them smooth, lustrous, and durable. Pearl and shell buttons come in various shapes and sizes fitting any delicate garment.

Type Attributes
Freshwater Pearl Affordable, luminous
Saltwater Pearl Expensive, high luster
Mother of Pearl Iridescent, durable
Seashell Textured, natural sheen

Ceramic Buttons for Delicate Garments

Another specialty button you’ll want to consider for delicate garments are ceramic buttons.

These buttons offer intricate designs that complement sheer and lightweight fabrics, making them perfect for delicate garments.

Ceramic buttons have a smooth finish and are available in many colors, allowing you to find the perfect match for your garment.

They’re also lightweight and easy to sew onto fabric.

Additionally, ceramic buttons resist tarnishing and corrosion, ensuring their durability over time.

Button Use and Styling Tips

Button Use and Styling Tips
When choosing buttons, consider the garment, weight, and purpose.

Strategically place buttons to complement design lines and functionality.

Play with different sizes, shapes, materials, and embellishments to make buttons a stylistic focal point.

Choosing the Right Button

When choosing the right button for your garment, consider its material, style, and intended use.

Here are some tips to help you make the best choice:

  1. Consider the button size in relation to your fabric and design.
  2. Select a button material that complements your garment’s overall aesthetic.
  3. Choose a button type that suits both practicality and visual appeal.
  4. Ensure that the function of the button aligns with its placement on your garment.

Button Placement and Functionality

After choosing the right button for your project, you’ll wanna consider button placement and functionality as you style them so the buttons serve both form and function.

Strategically position buttons based on garment type, considering size, shape and style.

Ensure accessibility and functionality by allowing ample space for buttoning.

Mind the tension between aesthetic appeal and practical fastening when determining ideal placement.

Button Styling and Embellishments

To enhance the overall look and appeal of your garment, consider incorporating button styling and embellishments during the design process.

Here are some tips to help you achieve that perfect finishing touch:

  1. Experiment with different button shapes, colors, sizes, and materials to create visual interest.
  2. Play with button placement to add unique accents or draw attention to specific areas of your garment.
  3. Consider adding embellishments like embroidery or beading around buttons for added texture and detail.
  4. Don’t be afraid to mix and match different types of buttons for a truly personalized look.

By following these tips, you can elevate the style of your garments using creative button choices!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the most durable buttons for high-wear garments like jeans or workwear?

Choose durable metal or enamel buttons for high-wear garments.

Their intricate designs withstand friction while complementing style.

When longevity matters most, rely on sturdy shank or toggle buttons made of brass, iron, or enamel.

How do I tell what material a vintage button is made from?

To determine the material of a vintage button, examine its characteristics.

Look for clues like color, texture, weight, and any markings or labels.

Researching common materials used in vintage buttons can also provide valuable insight.

Where can I buy custom printed buttons for a special project or occasion?

Looking for custom printed buttons? Well, lucky you! There are plenty of online stores that offer this service.

Just search for custom printed buttons and prepare to unleash your creativity on the world!

What’s the best way to store my button collection to prevent damage or tarnishing?

Use archival bags labelled by type, reinforce with cardboard for rigidity; store flat in acid-free boxes away from light, heat, and moisture.

Replace torn, yellowing bags.

Routinely inspect condition.

Periodically dust using a soft brush.

Are there any good books or online resources for identifying antique and vintage buttons?

Check online resources like Button Country or

Reputable dealers like also offer guides for dating buttons through markers, materials, styles.

Local historical societies may have print resources too.

Compare against photos from books like Warman’s Buttons Identification and Price Guide as well.

Examine construction, color variances, imprints.


Like a painter’s palette, buttons add splashes of color, texture, and personality to your designs. Choosing the right ones unlocks creativity, while understanding their form and function takes your skills to the next level.

So embrace these small canvases. With some thoughtful placement and styling, you can turn basic garments into true works of art.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a site dedicated to those passionate about crafting. With years of experience and research under his belt, he sought to create a platform where he could share his knowledge and skills with others who shared his interests.