The word "closure" is loosely defined in the dictionary as something that "closes or shuts." In the sewing world, the term represents a broad range of devices or notions that have one central purpose in common - to allow an opening to be opened and closed again as needed, such as a shirt front or at the waist (closures are also referred to as fasteners). Closures are used on many sorts of sewing projects but are a staple feature of garments and they are what allow for the close fit of modern garments (with some help from elastic textiles, of course, but that is another article). Prior to the invention of closures such as buttons, zippers, and snaps, clothing styles were loose fitting and relied on draping and sashes for shaping (think of the Roman toga).
There are many types of closures that are used in sewing from buttons to zippers. While most are fairly common, there are a few specialty closures that are used less often. Below, is a brief overview of the various types that are commonly used. If the word is underlined, there is an additional article that discusses that type of closure in more depth (use the "back" arrow to return to this page).
A button is a flat disc that is attached to one side of an opening with a buttonhole or loop on the other side of the opening. The button is inserted through the hole or loop to secure and close the opening.
While there is great variation in the shape and style of buttons, there are two basic types that differ mainly in how they are attached. Shank style buttons have a solid top with a loop on the underside that is sewn through (there are several examples in the photo - most of the buttons at the top are shank style). Standard buttons will have either two or four holes drilled all the way through the button that are used to sew the button on.