Many people are still puzzled over the fact that men’s shirt buttons are on the right side and women’s buttons are on the left.
“I just learned that the buttons on my shirt are on my right side for women and my left side for men.Wtf!!!!”exclaimed one Twitter user.
“I learned that women’s shirts have buttons on the left side when I was today years old!”wrote a second.
What then gives?Several theories have been around for a long time.
One theory asserts that wealthy women did not dress themselves; rather, they hired help.Women’s buttons were sewn so that someone else could fasten them, assuming that most people use their right hand.
Why do men’s shirts button on the right while women’s shirts button on the left?
In the 17th century, when buttons first appeared, they were only for the wealthy.Right-handed servants dressed women.With a picture of a passage from “The Economic Naturalist:” one author tweeted, “placing buttons on the left made it easier for them.
“In Search of Answers to Everyday Mysteries”
Chloe Chapin, a fashion historian, discussed button placement on the “Today” show in 2016.Chapin stated, “I think it’s important to question which time period we’re talking about, given that buttons on shirts and jackets are a relatively new phenomenon.”However, many aspects of men’s fashion can generally be traced back to the military.
She explained that putting buttons on the right side gave better “access to a weapon,” which “practically trumped everything,” and that a gun hidden in a shirt would be easier to grab with the dominant hand. She assumed that most men were right-handed.
Chapin offered the following theory: at a time when it mattered, button placement distinguished men’s and women’s clothing.In the 1880s, women’s clothing became more “masculine,” but it was still “illegal” to “dress like a man in public.”
The requirement to breastfeed and care for a child is at the heart of other theories.Again, according to Southern Living, designers of clothing assumed that most women carried babies with their left arm because they were right-handed.They could unbuttone their shirts with their right hand if they needed to breastfeed.
According to an unconfirmed theory that was mentioned in an article published in Elle, Napoleon was offended that people would mock his hand-in-coat posture and ordered that women’s clothing be buttoned in the opposite direction of men’s clothing so that they wouldn’t mimic him.
Of course, it could also simply be complete gender inequality.According to the 19th-century sexologist Havelock Ellis, it was a sign of inferiority for women to button their clothing in the opposite direction as men did.
The presumption at the time was that ladies were more fragile and needed more help, thus, the typical requirement for handmaids dressing them consistently.Women would “seem inferior to men” in terms of “strength and in rapidity and precision of movement” if they buttoned their clothing on the left.