Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi talks about the lasting genius of this everyday object so perfectly designed that it changed the world around us.








  • sewn – Past Participle form of the verb sew (sew – sewed – sewn) – to work with a needle and thread or with a sewing machine
  • buttonhole – a slit or loop through which a button is passed
  • to slip through – to pass, move, or push something through something quickly
  • enduring – existing for a long time
  • dome –  anything shaped like a hemisphere or inverted bowl
  • shank – (for example) a ring on the back of a button by which it is sewn to cloth
  • rim – the outer, often circular edge of something
  • ease – an easy fit; freedom from constraint; absence of difficulty
  • amorphous – having no specific shape; formless
  •  to wriggle – to twist, or move your body (part), with small, quick movements
  • to wrap – to cover or enclose in paper or soft material (e.g. presents)
  • Velcro – the brand name of a type of fastening tape consisting of opposing pieces of fabric, used as a closure on garments, luggage, etc., in place of buttons, zippers, and the like
  • to wear out – to use something a lot so that it no longer works, or can no longer be used
  • the long run – a long period of time after the beginning of something
  • to knit  – to make something such as a sweater, a scarf, etc using wool and sticks called knitting needles

Answer the following questions:

  • What was the first function of the button?
  • Has the button design changed much since the Middle Ages?
  • Why is it one of the most enduring designs in history according to the speaker?
  • What were clothes like before buttons?
  • Why are buttons better than zips(BrE)/zippers(AmE) or Velcro?
  • What’s your preference: buttons, zips or Velcro?
  • What does the designer mean by saying: “The button is a crazy fashion statement.”
  • If there was a museum of buttons in the place where you live, would you like to visit it?


Practice Makes Perfect

Use the verbs in brackets in the right tense (Present Simple, Past Simple, Present Perfect or Future). Go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LN4L5EMmmc  to check your answers.

  1. No one knows who (1) …….. (invent) the button.
  2. It might (2) ……… (show) up  as early as 2000 BCE.
  3. The button and the buttonhole (3) ….. (be) such a great invention.
  4. Not only (4) ……… it …… (slip) through the buttonhole, but then it kind of (5) …… (fall) into place, and so you are completely secure, like it (6) ….. never …… (open) .
  5. The design of a button (7) ……….. (not change) since the Middle Ages.

ANSWERS: 1. invented; 2. have shown; 3. is/are; 4. does slip; 5. falls; 6. is (never) going to open; 7. hasn`t changed


  • When a button falls off, can you sew it back on? Are you good at sewing?
  • What object comes to mind when you think of the word enduring?
  • Do you like wrapping presents?
  • Can u knit? Have you ever knitted anything?
  • What could wear your patience thin? (If your patience is wearing thin, you are becoming annoyed and likely to get angry soon)
  • Do you sometimes try to wriggle out of (to avoid doing something by using clever excuses) your responsibilities?
  • What do you do with ease?

Explore it more to create your own teaching-learning experience!

Tender Buttons, a one-of-a-kind New York institution, closes shop.

The Upper East Side institution wasn’t just a shop; it was performance art. It presented some common objects with Wunderkammer charm.



Tender buttons, a one of a kind new york institution, closes shop