When and Wear: Buttons

Fashion trends — they come and go quicker than a missed call and any of my high school boyfriends. In the fashion realm, it’s hard to imagine a style that sticks, a look that lasts, a fad that doesn’t fade. But there is one item, one trend, or tool rather, that defies time, subsists in all seasons and outlasts innovation, again and again and again — the button. In style years it’s been an eternity, and in dog years it’s seven times that. In actuality the button is as old as mankind and yet is as constant and fresh as tomorrow morning.

We have all buttoned up, unbuttoned, lost a button, liked a button, collected a button, wore a button, painted a button, had our face on the button of mom’s arctic parka.

Buttons are fashion’s phone-a-friend, a garment’s go-to, a skirt’s safety net — without the button, the whole thing would fall apart. Without buttons, who would keep your collar down in an interview? Who would keep your coat clasped while waiting for the carpool? And who would make your cable knit cuter? A life without buttons, like a dress shirt without buttons, is ugly and unpractical. We have become so reliant on the timeless trend and tool that I beg to ask: are buttons just filling the holes of our cardigans, or are they are filling deeper holes, deeper voids?

Our fast-forward culture is disastrously dependent on the buttons that keep us put together. They have morphed from fashion’s phone-a-friend, to a modern day lifeline. Technology has fastened buttons to its every outlet, linking every portal, connecting every contraption, controlling every machine. It’s no coincidence that these two items, one for fastening and one for performing functions, share the same name. The snowball effect of buttons is making it impossible not to be fixed to everyone and everything at every time. They are nullifying every boyfriend’s excuse in the book for not calling, texting nor emailing. Buttons are making it impossible not to push/press/click/hit/tap your way through the day. Whether they’re on your sleeve or on your cell, buttons are everywhere and have become everything to everyone.

From my brickberry, to your Blackberry, the remote, to the mouse, the camera, the vending machine, interactive punch pads, garage keypads, hospital call bells, your Ultramatic adjustable bed, Timex Indiglo or low-flush toilet. If it doesn’t have a button to push, push it aside (sorry, pretty notepads).

The only buttons my grandmother ever knew were the ones she sewed back onto her Nygard knits. Now, a day doesn’t start until we literally press one of four, and in most cases, all four buttons: on, start, play and enter. Ironically there is often no button to stop.

Push on the light, start the coffee, off the blow drier, on the straightener, start Windows, enter password, play voicemail, window down, volume up — we now push buttons to meet, accept or decline new friends, check the weather, do our math homework, calculate our income tax, walk across the street and open the car door.

Buttons that were once made to secure our clothes seem to be securing our existence. Was the button made first to fasten and fill a small hole? Or have we filled life’s holes with the one thing we know that sticks? Have we become so reliant, so needy that we rely on technology’s (easy) buttons to stay on track and intact?

The more I begin to revel in all the buttons I’m pushing right now typing you this and all of the buttons I am going to push today, pushing all of these buttons, is inversely pushing my buttons.

Today, I decided to resolve this, when I hit the touchdown of all buttons.