In my experience, one of the best ways to make a mass-produced piece of clothing a bit more luxurious and enjoyable is to replace plastic machine-sewed buttons with high-quality, hand sewn ones. There are many places to find great horn, mother-of-pearl, leather and metal buttons: thrifting and ebay are always good options and there many online stores with wide selections. If you’re in the San Francisco area, though, I highly recommend stopping by Britex Fabrics.
A few months ago I purchased a Club Monaco single-breasted trench coat on deep discount. I have already gotten good use out of it but I knew that the large plastic buttons were keeping the trench from reaching its full potential. On a rainy day last weekend I stopped by the famous fabric store to peruse the button selection. The beautiful shop has four floors stocked with fabrics of every kind, but the selection of natural and vintage buttons is truly something to behold. A wide variety of colors and sizes are available, and the cost is quite reasonable (they are just buttons, after all).
Replacing all of the buttons on a blazer or jacket will set you back around $15-$25 (or less if you thrift them) and the change will be dramatic. Natural buttons have a delightful weight to them, as well as having a wonderful richness to their color and a much more “real” feeling (because they are). It’s a simple and inexpensive alteration that makes a garment much more pleasurable to wear.
I left with a small handful of ruddy amber colored buttons and will be swapping them out on my own soon (a skill all men should probably have). I’ll post the process tomorrow but in the meantime consider upgrading one of your favorite pieces with this small change – you’ll be glad you did.
Britex also has a web store that can be found here.