What is this button on the back of the collar for?
February 9, 2012 3:26 PM   Subscribe

I recently bought a new wool coat and upon examining at home, I found a small (~1/4"-diameter) button on the outside, under the collar, dead-center at the nape of the neck. What is this for?

To add more to my quite trivial question, this wool coat (by Dockers, if it matters) did come with that "free scarf" most wool coats come with nowadays, so my first thought was it was a place to "attach" the scarf. You'd button the scarf in, fold down the collar and have a way to keep the scarf on the coat even when you hang it up. But, I examined the scarf carefully, stretching, feeling it and there is no button hole, no slit, no place where the button could pass through. There isn't even a tiny hole in the scarf that I can see.

That shot down my other theory that maybe the scarf was permanently attached to the coat by sewing a button through the scarf and into the coat. But if the scarf was then forcibly removed, I could see either a hole made in the scarf or the button being torn off, but neither seems to have happened.

So, can any fashion plates out there help me? Am I supposed to cut a slit in the scarf myself to use this button? Go to a tailor and have a buttonhole sewn in? Or is the button just "one of those things" that wool coats have? It's my first one, so I wouldn't have known about this before.
posted by Fortran to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total)
Buttons are sometimes used as anchors for something on the opposite side (a bit of a stretch here because I bet you'd have noticed this). Could it be acting in some way as an anchor for a hanging loop or some such?
posted by yoink at 3:42 PM on February 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Does the button match the other (if any) buttons on the coat? If so, it's probably an extra button in case one of those falls off. They commonly attach them to places on a coat where your less likely to experience wear, so there's little risk of losing the extra button.
posted by katyggls at 3:42 PM on February 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

In the olden days of the 60's it used to be common to have a button there on dress shirts, to stop the then-fashionable skinny ties from slipping down below the back of the collar.

Maybe it's for a similar scarf-y purpose?
posted by Pinback at 3:51 PM on February 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

(In the case of tie, it didn't button to the shirt - it just sat above and under the button.)
posted by Pinback at 3:54 PM on February 9, 2012

Response by poster: yoink: No, there's nothing on the other side of it under the fabric that I can tell.

katyggis: Well, it does match the buttons that are on the inside of the big buttons on the outside of the coat, but the coat came with a wee bag containing one of each size of button in case one was lost.

Pinback: Hmm. You might be right. Maybe it's a weird friction lock for a scarf. You don't button the scarf to it, but having it there can help the scarf stay put?
posted by Fortran at 3:56 PM on February 9, 2012

Best answer: Is it an older coat? Often older shirts and coats had a button or button-hole on the back of the collar as a place to attach a "wind trolley" or hat tether. The hat tether was a little cord that would run from a mans hat and attach to his collar or coat so your hat wouldn't fly down the street if it blew off your head. Google "wind trolley" and you might find out if this is what this particular button is for...
posted by jnnla at 4:04 PM on February 9, 2012 [5 favorites]

What a wonderful thing to learn about: "wind trolleys"! I just did a bunch of googling though and all I see are wind trolleys with buttons on the end--the idea being that you poke the button through a button hole on your shirt or your jacket. I don't see any that attach to a button.
posted by yoink at 4:18 PM on February 9, 2012

Are you sure it isn't missing something (a fake fur collar, a hood) that it was supposed to come with? Failing that, perhaps there's another model of the coat that does come with one of those things, and attaching the buttons to them all is part of simplifying the manufacturing process?
posted by crabintheocean at 4:26 PM on February 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I've seen this on coats and jackets that some with a removable hood. Possibly this coat was sold with a hood elsewhere, and you got the scarf model...?
posted by Specklet at 5:13 PM on February 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

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