Another thing I love about New York are the specialty stores you find tucked away on side streets. Now I'm certainly no dressmaker or weekend seamstress, but you have to fall in love with a store that calls itself Tender Buttons.
Located on the Upper East Side at East 62nd Street, this little gem was started in 1968 and named after a 1914 culinary essay by Gertrude Stein, which ruminates on small objects. Apparently the essay's title came from a sign for button mushrooms seen in a French produce market. There's your connection!
This amazing store holds literally tens of thousands of all kinds of buttons and clasps and things that hold your clothes together. They are all snugly housed in rows of little wooden boxes, each with a very carefully hand written description and provenance, like "faux horn chunks from Italy".
Who would have thought the humble button came in so many guises? As a starting point, the store stocks over 400 different styles of blazer buttons, vintage enamel buttons and 18th Century French carved ivory. Prices start at 50 cents and go up to $2000 for one button!
Even if you're not looking to match a button from your vintage military coat or give an old shirt a new lease of life, it's worth dropping into this exquisite store just to marvel at the sheer range and history of buttons.