The Button Queen2
 
Last week I discovered The Button Queen, on Marylebone Lane in London. It’s hard to believe I’ve never been in before; I don’t think I will ever select buttons for tailoring from anywhere else.

The Button Queen has been around since the 1950s. It used to be on Carnaby Street until the 60s, when the swingers pushed them out. They have been on the current premises since 1987 – and before that on the other side of the road. The shop’s life has been a peripatetic one, constantly being moved on by new trends or developments. Then again, it feels surprising today that any shop in cental London can turn a profit selling buttons.
 

The Button Queen 

There are precious and rare buttons for collectors. Most of the trade is dress makers and designers, looking for original patterns and materials. But in the middle there is a rich collection of buttons suitable for tailoring.

The problem with most button retailers is that they don’t have the sizes required for a jacket’s front and cuffs, let alone blazer buttons, overcoat buttons and so on. Much as I love Duttons for Buttons in York, there were only ever a handful of ranges that had the appropriate sizes.

  
nepalese horn The Button Queenhorn The Button Queen domed horn buttons The Button Queen horn buttons The Button Queen

The Button Queen folders that will be of most interest to readers are labelled ‘horn buttons’, ‘shell buttons’ and ‘blazer buttons’. Possibly ‘wooden buttons’ as well. Horn has all the colours we expect from tailors, a few extra shades, and some beautiful carved and domed models. These are largely hand-cut Nepalese horn, which ranges from the very rustic (tweed jacket, perhaps) to the beautifully fine and intricate.

The shell folder has the mother-of-pearl you’d expect (again, with a few extra shades) plus my favourites: mussel shell. The blazer-button folder, although contaning a broad range of coats of arms, otherwise aren’t that interesting.
  

blazer buttons The Button Queen lion's head buttons The Button Queen 

Far more noteworthy are the vintage and rare metallic buttons. For I had come into The Button Queen seeking something antique for my Gieves & Hawkes bespoke pea coat. Martin, the manager, was initially sceptical. Pea coat buttons are pretty large and normally pretty dull. But when I explained that there was a lot of flexibility about the size, he dug out a few old boxes.

I recommend looking at the livery buttons. These were usually worn in two curving lines down the front edges of household staff uniforms, and not designed to do up. They feature the family’s coat of arms or crest, and are slightly bigger than jacket buttons, slightly smaller an overcoat’s. Nice for a blazer, perhaps.

For the pea coat we found some slightly larger, domed versions. Made from brass, they are nicely tarnished and (according the backs) made in Birmingham in 1927.

I’ll include some photos of those in the final pea-coat post. In the meantime, have a look at the models here, and get down to see Martin next time you have a piece of tailoring in need of some personalisation.
 
 
The Button Queen London

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Patrick Humphreys

An exceptional shop, indeed. On my first visit, the service was admittedly rather snarky, in that way that these types of shops tend to be. I’ve visited since then, however, and found it more agreeable, realising that there’s really no other place like it in London. After all, the button market must be a tiny one, but this shop has it cornered.

J.A.

Hi,

Are leather buttons for an odd jacket considered gauche? I’ve thought about adding dark leather buttons to one of my jackets and this shop is indeed what I’ve been looking for.
@ Simon Crompton- pls keep more posts with London’s secret haberdashery stores coming, thx

Mark

Simon

A presumptuous question, I know, but I had a blazer made at Poole’s six years ago with their own brass buttons, unfortunately I wear it very infrequently as the brass gives it a bit too much of the ‘Golf C lub Bore’ look. Any suggestions as to what sort of buttons might bring it back into a more useful – and less brash – casual jacket?

Mark

Simon

Thank you for that. Good ideas both. And apologies for the delay in responding to your kind advice.

Mark

Just found out that you can order from their website.

Mr P

Are you aware of Taylor’s Buttons, Simon? Every tailor certainly does.

Robert

What a great find ! Thanks for sharing!

David

I’m planning on upgrading my rtw pea coat with brass buttons but my budget is limited. How much would I have to expect to pay for buttons from Queen?

Tom

Simon,

can you recommend a place in London (or online) where I can get hand made horn buttons for suits? I’ve tried the Button Queen but sadly they were out of the standard sizes and can’t really say when there’s going to be a re-stock.

Regards,
Tom

Guy Graff

Here it is 2 years after you posted this article about buttons. It was odd and pleasing to uncover and read because I live in New York City and I discovered a very similar shop here over 20 years ago. The name is “Tender Buttons” located at 143 E 62nd St, NYC (still in operation). A wonderful shop serving a somewhat neglected segment of the market.

Thanks for that article.

Stan

For one of your jackets you replaced buttons with the buttons from a store close to Fleet Street. What was the name of the store as I cannot find it anywhere on the site now.

Stan

Simon, thank you for a quick reply.

I found it already under this link. https://www.permanentstyle.com/2014/06/cashmere-denim-and-fresco.html It is Richard Weldon, is it worth a visit or should I stick with Button Queen?

Robin Basu

i believe they have moved now.they are based in west wales but have an online purchase

https://www.thebuttonqueen.co.uk/