Why do shirts need Buttons?

Ranjit Damodaran
2 min readJan 28, 2023



This is one of the things that baffles me. I believe having Buttons on shirts is still a remnant of the past. It is a like a vestigial evolutionary organ that has lost its sense of purpose.

Let's delve into the history of the humble Button. The Indus valley is credited with the first button in 2000 BCE, made of a curved shell. It is the oldest known button in existence. I was presently surprised, and it is an Indian subcontinent invention.

Earlier known buttons didn't have holes like the present ones, but they may have been used mainly as an ornament than a fastener and a symbol of social standing.


Romans took it to the next level, known for their flowy clothes, and they used it as the pin-up known as Fibula for their clothes. It is another alternative way of holding the clothes together.

During the middle ages, buttons became a vogue. People in England started wearing tight-fit clothes. The more oversized and more buttons, the merrier, and in France, a makers guild was formed for the buttons.

Button with holes “Buttonhole” or in french “Boutonnières” is believed to have started in Germany during the 13th century.

After the industrial age, there was no more scarcity of buttons. Buttons are no more made of shells, animal bones, or horns. Plastics and metals will do the job.

Even today, if you visit rural South India, button stitching is still handled by a specialized person called “Kaja boys.

However, now the buttons are overrated remnants of the past era, with the invention of various garments which don't need more fasteners to hold two ends of the cloth.

It has become a part of the legacy to continue with buttons, whether you need them or not.

Now the word button is used in many places, and it can be the switch in an electrical circuit, a button on web pages, or anything we can push to start something.

Now that I have talked about the button let me button-up.



Ranjit Damodaran

Tech enthusiast, Project Management. Interested in Complexity science, Economics, Psychology, Philosophy, Human Nature, Behavioral Economics, almost anything.