June 9, 2018


Maybe you have arthritis or tendinitis or maybe you’ve always had sausage fingers. Maybe you have really long fingernails that make dexterity difficult or maybe you have amputations (sorry I can’t help you there…awkward…). Any one of these conditions is enough to make you frustrated when buttoning your shirt or even worse, when you are trying to squeeze into a pair of jeans from 1999…myself included. I’m not judging. Let me tell you right off the bat, I don’t have any great ideas and there’s nothing on the market that I know of that will make this scenario that much easier. However, let’s talk about it. Let’s get it off our chest and figure things out together. Unless you are using your teeth to button your shirt/pants (btw, kudos to you), it can’t be that bad.

Modified Strategies

If elastic waistbands and T-shirts are not an option, buy clothes with bigger buttons or replace them with bigger buttons. Make sure the bigger buttons fit through the button hole. The holes can be enlarged if you are handy or know someone who can do it for you. Unless you have to, don’t unbutton every single one when you undress. Try to wear clothes that are not too tight since buttoning or zipping up tight clothes can be more challenging.


Like most things in life, your success will depend mostly on your tenacity, how much time you have, and

button hook

how desperate you are. You may want to lie down on your couch and tell me all about it but right now, let’s start with buttons and zippers. These may not sound very exciting but they are certainly important if you want to go out and not get arrested. Since these devices are designed for single-handed use, it can be tricky to use them with your non-dominant hand (depending on which side the buttons are on) but practice will make things easier. If you have weak grip or difficulty making a fist, try to choose one with a thicker or less slippery grip.


button and zip combo

It helps to use a mirror to see what you are doing. Make sure you have good lighting because putting that hook through the zipper hole can be challenging. A handheld mirror might be helpful so you can get a close look. Soon, you’ll be able to do brain surgery! That was a joke. I don’t mean that. Please don’t try.


Putting a small device through button holes, how hard can it be? It can’t be too hard, can it? Wrong!! It can be very hard. It can strain your eyes, hand, neck and/or back from trying to see what you are doing while practising precision with your hand. Give yourself lots of time to get ready. Vary your activities. Do one button, put socks on, do another button, go find your keys, etc. If your body is less strained, the process of dressing will go faster and you’ll have more patience when you go out. If you don’t find the process of buttoning tiring, then go crazy. Have at it.

Be Kind

Be kind to yourself. I know you used to be able to button your shirt without thinking about it. You zipped your pants in less time than it required you to take one breath. I know it’s frustrating and sometimes maddening. You might have to buy a few replacement button hooks because you snapped the others in half or threw them out the window. Regardless, don’t give up if it’s important to you. You are fine and will do fine. If you were born in the loin cloth wearing days, you would be more than fine but it’s our society that demands things to be hidden. Really, it’s not a big deal that you can’t button quickly. Look at it this way. You are way wiser and better looking than those “button-efficient” people and buttoning shirts never brought world peace. Take care of yourself.


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