Suit. Fench, 1765-75. Silk, metallic, metal, cotton. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Buttons were worn on garments as early as the 14th century, for decoration. Two centuries later, they became more popular; liberally adorning garments- very expensive garments. The button was a luxury ornament. Buttons were covered with cloth during the reign of Louis XIV, and would be manufactured in steel, and later gilt. The 18th century was a great century for buttons, as Matthew Boulton perfected his machinery to manufacture them efficiently and quickly. Buttons for all!
I love this description of the buttons on the dashing suit above from the Metropolitain Museum of Art:
"The distinctive buttons on this 18th-century suit characterize the flamboyance with which French men dressed to match the opulence of their female counterparts. The liberally applied buttons would have been a lively pink color and glittering in candlelight next to the elegant textile and salmon-colored lining. The slim silhouette is emphasized by the narrow shoulders, curved front opening and elongated pocket flaps."