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Why are buttons on men and women’s shirts placed on different sides?

The reason why men’s shirts have their buttons on the right side while women’s garments have theirs on the left stems from opulence and convenience. In the 19th century, only affluent women can afford clothes with buttons. And if you are a well-off lady during those days, you don't dress up by yourself, you have chambermaids to dress you up so their buttons were placed on the side most convenient for right-handed servants. The idea must have came from dressmakers who assist clients during fittings.

In the case of men's buttons, even the wealthiest bloke of the olden times generally dressed themselves up, even if they have servants who can very well assist them.  Thus, the buttons are on the right side to make fastening or unfastening a piece of garment quicker and easier for the right-handed man. This proved to be useful during unexpected duels where gentlemen can easily unbutton their coats with their left hand while drawing their swords with their right.

 

2 comments

  1. Charles 22 November, 2012 at 22:50 Reply

    You cited the main cause of most of the button placement phenomenon; however, literary evidence exists predating the time you cite, tracing to the Puritans in England, who assembled primitive theological equations from the Bible as to gender. Eve first committed sin; the wicked were to appear at the left hand of God at judgment; so, women’s buttons were placed on the left side, men’s on the right side. I’m surprised the Junkie hasn’t addressed a more obvious matter—the trouser/skirt division of the sexes; what caused it (not “brain chemistry” or chromosomes); and why women started disregarding it by wearing twin tube leg garments en masse! Please don’t turn to psychiatry for any correct answers!

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