Women are only just realizing why their shirt buttons are on the left side – and why men's clothing is the opposite | The Sun
18th November 2022

MANY women are only just now realizing why their shirt buttons are on the left side – and why men’s clothing is the opposite.

Have you ever wondered why menswear and womenswear tend to be only slightly different?

It turns out, there’s a historical reason for it, going back centuries to when men fought in duels and women were rearing children

According to a Quota thread, men’s shirt buttons are on the right to make it easier for them to quickly retrieve their weapon in a duel.

“It was more convenient and quicker to use their left hand for unbuttoning,” read the thread.

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

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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 etiquette' 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 from getting into the shirt as they rode.

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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."

Many people were shocked by the revelation, with one woman saying on Twitter: "I have been blind to the world."

Another said: "I learned something new today."

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