It's amazing what a box of buttons can reveal about its owner. Yesterday I was lucky enough to stumble upon a cardboard box stuffed with the spare buttons you get in little plastic packets alongside the clothes that you buy. Or at least, that's what you used to get. You might now find a spare sewn onto the inside of your purchased garment, but more often than not, you're left to your own devices when it comes to replacement fastenings thse days. It's a pain, given that most buttons are now sewn on so badly that you usually lose one the first time you put on your new shirt! The owner of these buttons seemed to shop almost exclusivly at Jaeger and Basler. And as I went throght the box it became clear that black and gilt far exceeded any other colour. A woman of expensive and classical taste perhaps? I popped the buttons from their packets as if I were shelling peas, and was pleased with my £5 haul. I also discovered that clothes used to be accompanied by small skeins of wool or thread for the sewing on of buttons and minor repairs. Some little packets contained spare squares of cloth too - evidence of our past attitude to making clothing last. When did we lose that determination to preserve and conserve?