The Fascinating Lives of Buttonhooks

As you will hear us shouting from the rooftops any time we release a button boot, buttonhooks are an utterly indispensable accessory for anyone who dons Victorian/Edwardian footwear with functional buttons. This handy little tool makes quick work of fiddly little buttons, and not just on shoes and boots; buttonhooks can help with fastening gloves, waistbands, bodices, and more. A nice buttonhook does help one to feel a bit fancy as well.

The woman in this advertisement is lucky enough to have a pair of button boots with scalloped edges, just like Renoir! However, she is unlucky enough to be buttoning her boots while wearing a corset.

Buttonhooks have been around in some iteration since at least the 18th century. As you might expect, they increased in popularity during the Victorian era, and by the 1880s, buttonhooks were ubiquitous. They remained in common use until after the first World War. If there was one thing that the Victorians loved, it was putting teeny-tiny buttons on everything, from button boots to gloves to children’s clothes.

Buttonhooks came in all shapes and sizes, from two-inch pocket buttonhooks to ones that were over a foot long. They were made from all manner of materials, from practical steel to fancy-schmancy gold and silver. Simple, more utilitarian buttonhooks had plain handles that were designed for function only. One could also acquire all manner of ornately decorated buttonhooks, with artfully carved handles and narrative designs.

Very plain buttonhook, as practical as it can get.

Because basically everyone needed buttonhooks, they became a common means of advertising names of products, stores and brands, and you could even get commemorative buttonhooks stamped with the names of events. They were kind of like the Victorian’s equivalent of commemorative keychains or bottle openers. Buttonhook swag and merch!

This buttonhook handle features a plug for Sorosis Shoes.

Buttonhooks are easy enough to use; one simply has to insert the hook end of the buttonhook through the buttonhole, carefully hook the shank of the button, and gently pull the button through the buttonhole with a slight twist. We have a tutorial on our website on how to use a buttonhook, as well as a helpful video.

We would be remised if we didn’t mention our own American Duchess historical reproduction buttonhooks! Designed from an original antique buttonhook, our buttonhooks feature a stainless steel hook and solid cast brass handle.

What would these buttonhooks go perfectly with, you ask? Why, our Cute as a Button mini-collection pre-order styles, of course! You can now get cloth-top Manhattan Button Boots in SIX colorways, as well as our new two-tone leather Renoir Button Boots (with the scalloped edges!).

Manhattan and Renoir Boots are $20/€20 off each pair through October 21. Don’t forget your buttonhook!

Pre-Order is Open
October 7 – 21, 2022
$20/€20 discount per pair


  • Annon

    October 19, 2022 at 6:25 AM

    😍I love these shoe/ boot types/ historic shoes from this era (…and most historical eras!)

    Feedback: the video was cute/ fun …but you forgot to show the reverse/ how to quickly unbutton when you’re in a hurry

    Loving your designs!


    …don’t forget American Duke Victorian era button shoes too!



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