Why Cary Grant Used To Cut The Buttons Off His Shirt

Long before life hacks were seeping out of every social media hole imaginable, resourceful individuals had to come up with the so-called hacks on their own. Whether these types of tips were discovered through trial and error or passed down from a wise family member, they always made life a tad easier, more manageable. For this reason, you wouldn't necessarily consider debonair Hollywood mega-hunk Cary Grant as someone who partook in these types of thrifty best practices.

Dive into the actor's history, though, and a clearer picture of Grant's life and consequential habits begins to take shape. In a New York Times profile, Grant opens up about his difficult upbringing, including how his emotionally absent mother checked into a mental hospital when Grant was only 12 years old. "It was her way of rejecting society and rejecting my father," he said. The feeling of rejection would follow Grant for the rest of his life.

Grant's experience with his mother would eventually lead to a tumultuous love life during which four of his wives left him. Grant even underwent 100 LSD sessions in order to attempt to address his fraught and mentally draining relationship with rejection. So what does all this have to do with shirt buttons? Well, there's a logical explanation.

Cary Grant was considered to be a cheapskate

While money isn't everything, it can often provide a type of stability that's can be hard to come by for many people. Including world-renowned celebrities. While Cary Grant's partnerships didn't always work out, there was one relationship that treated Grant extremely well: the one between him and the camera. Grant's chemistry on screen was palpable, and even though he certainly battled personal demons when it came to rejection and loneliness, he was undeniably beloved by Hollywood and his fans across the globe. An armchair therapist might point out that these career accolades fueled Grant, who struggled to maintain connections in his personal life. 

A person who reaches the kind of monumental celebrity levels of Grant is not a person you'd typically categorize as a cheapskate, but apparently, some really did see Grant this way — much to his chagrin. He told The New York Times, "Well, you could start by looking at my charity donations. Now, perhaps I've offended some people I wouldn't loan money to ... It's true I don't lead the life of a Frank Sinatra. But someone should ask the doormen and waiters I deal with. I pay my bills immediately, and a lot of big spenders don't."

Grant's frugal tendencies even extended all the way to his cleaning supplies, an observation made by a journalist who followed Grant around for a bit.

'I think it's a very sensible procedure'

According to Cary Grant, a journalist who followed him around for a bit highlighted the fact that Grant used to cut off the buttons from his shirts. Grant used his interview with The New York Times as an opportunity to clear the air. Turns out, he cut the buttons off his discarded shirts not because of some idiosyncratic Hollywood divo behavior, but for practicality's sake. " ... (T)here are two good reasons why I do it," he told The New York Times. "First, my shirts were made with a particular kind of button and I wanted to save them to replace buttons that fell off of other shirts. Secondly, the housecleaner liked my old shirts as dusters because they were soft, and the buttons, if left on, would have scratched the furniture. I think it's a very sensible procedure and should be adopted as a household tip."

There you have it: a very darling life hack from Mr. Hollywood himself, Cary Grant. While he might've missed out on a stable childhood, it's clear that he managed to live a self-reliant life and create a down-to-earth environment despite his nearly infinite level of fame. Considering the era that Grant came out of and his struggles with female companionship, it's no wonder he took a utilitarian approach to running his household.