People are discovering why men and women’s shirt buttons are on different sides – and it’s blowing their minds

HAVE you ever wondered why menswear and womenswear is only slightly different?

One more noticible difference is on shirts, where buttons are placed on either the left – for women or the right – for men.

The reasons behind the differences go back centuries, to when men fought and women were expected to stay home to raise children.

A Quora thread says that mens shirts button on the right to make duelling easier and quicker to get to their weapon because: "It was more convenient and quicker to use their left hand for unbuttoning,"

Most men held their swords in their right hands, so needed to swiftly open their shirt for duelling and self-protection.


As for why women's shirts button on the left, it's quite possibly because of babies.

Women tend to hold their infants in their left arm, so that their right hand can do other things, another reason why the right arm is often dominant in most people.

Women's shirts were designed to be opened or closed with the only hand that was free – the right hand.

So they were buttoned on the left in order to make breastfeeding easier.

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Another theory is that horse riding determined where the buttons were places on women's shirts.

Due to wearing long, heavy skirts, dresses and undergarments as well as 'proper ettiquette' women were expected to ride horses sidesaddle, with both legs on the right side of the horse.

Having buttons on the left stopped the wind getting in to the shirt as they rode.

Some think that the difference in button placement began during the rise of emancipation when women started to wear trousers and other styles borrowed from men instead of their restrictive corsets and girdles.

Button manufacturers put them on the left side of women's clothing as a practical means of distinguishing between men's and women's clothing as cut in the fabric is also different.

An unusual theory posed by The Atlantic comes from when French military and political leader Napoleon Bonaparte was sick of being bullied by women for the way he posed.

Napoleon liked to stick his hand between the buttons of his shirt and women would tease him by copying his pose themselves.

Some think Napoleon could have ordered that women's shirts be buttoned on the opposite side of men's to stop the bullying.

Speaking about modern clothing to Today, founder of women's blouse brand Elizabeth & Clarke, Melanie M. Moore said: "When buttons were invented in the 13th century they were, like most new technology, very expensive."

"Wealthy women back then did not dress themselves — their lady's maid did.

"Since most people were right-handed, this made it easier for someone standing across from you to button your dress."

Ultimately, it comes down to tradition, when people had staff to dress them, as Alex Fisher wrote on Quora: "The buttons and fastenings were arranged to make it easier to close and fasten the garments, which required that men’s garments had the fastenings arrayed on the right, while a lady’s dresser required that they be on the opposite side.

For more fun fashion stories, check out why people are discovering what the tiny pocket on your jeans is for and it’s blowing their minds

Check out how to up your buttoning game and never get a gape again, why you’ve been buttoning cardigans wrong

For some bra-tips, see why you’ve been putting your bra on wrong – expert reveals ‘right’ way that doesn’t damage your underwear

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