if you must have the most gorgeous button available, or just want to jazz up something that maybe you have grown bored with, i cannot think of a better place to look around than tender buttons. this tiny little shop on the upper east side, named for a famous book by gertrude stein, has beautiful, beautiful pieces made of incredible materials in all shapes and sizes. i’ve known about this place long before i did much shopping when i was right out of college, had zero money and was working part-time on evenings and weekends at the crazily luxurious andrew w. mellon foundation across the street. my treat when i could not bear running another regression analysis, or read another volume on university research libraries (it was mighty dry stuff) would be to venture out for a snack and maybe a peak across the street at this store full of miniature treasures.
first open in 1964, this long and narrow shop has shelves full of buttons collected by the owners from around the world. in addition to the practical (classic woven leather, gold, silver, mother of pearl), there are antique, rare and vintage buttons dating back to the 18th century. the button selection includes art deco pieces, buttons made from porcelain, silver, carved ivory and regimental brass as well as those with tiny enamel paintings from france. tender buttons also has a vast children’s selection of buttons with the cutest shapes as well as a good stock of cuff links and buckles as well as little collections or exhibits of the owners’ latest finds. tender buttons, 143 east 62nd street between lexington and 3rd avenues, manhattan, new york, 212.758.7004.