Why Women Have Different Sides For Shirt Buttons From Men


There must have been some fashion trends that you didn’t like, or they may have confused you. Growing up, I also believed some trends didn’t deserve the admiration they got from people. They made me say, “what is the need for this?”

They got weirder, and as I was going through my cupboard, I noticed this very peculiar thing. All of my buttons on the shirt are on the left side, while my brother’s shirt has buttons on the right! Weird, right? Both of us are right-handed, and it didn’t really make sense to me.

Many people don’t notice the difference but like a curious person, I got on the web to do my research.

Why Women Have Different Sides For Shirt Buttons From Men | why do women's shirts button on the left

The weapon effect 

It is easier for a right-handed person to get the gun out of their shirt if the buttons are on the right side. This dates back to the 13th century. Even while carrying swords, swordmen usually keep their weapon on the left side. This ensures a safe way to take the weapon out without the sword getting stuck or tangled. Even in the old pictures, we can see men carrying guns on the left side. This was also because women weren’t a part of the armies or those who fight and represent their country.

A famous portrait of Napolean shows his hand on the right side of the coat. This was a notable habit of his, which wouldn’t have been possible if the buttons were on the other side.

Why Women Have Different Sides For Shirt Buttons From Men | why do women's shirts button on the left

Well, that does make sense right? But what about women’s clothing?

Thanks to 13th-century wealthy women

The history goes back to the 13th century when wealthy women had maids dress them. Men always had shirts with buttons on the right side, while to make it easier for maids to close the buttons, women specially told the tailors to tie them on the right side. So like a mirror, the maids’ right hand was used to button the dresses of wealthy women! This way, more time was spent getting the women ready for their tea parties. 

Coming back to the 21st century, buttons are now easily affordable. But they remain on the left side for women and the right side for men. 

Why Women Have Different Sides For Shirt Buttons From Men | why do women's shirts button on the left
Wikimedia Commons/ Kenneth Mathiason Skeaping

The traditional style of riding horses

Horses are another possible reason for the button sides. Women traditionally rode on the back of the horses, with their legs on the right side. With buttons on left, air breeze would easily pass their tops. 

One other reason could be that it was easier for women to open their buttons with their left hands, in order to breastfeed their babies which were held with their right hands.

Why Women Have Different Sides For Shirt Buttons From Men

Some people may have followed the way of the rich, copied women’s style of clothing and this resulted in women’s shirts having left-sided buttons. This was super interesting to know! Who knew common fashion’s trendsetters also date back to the 13th century? 

If you liked reading this, check out- Why Were Bras So Pointy In The 50’s?


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