Why Men’s and Women’s Clothes Button-Up on Different Sides

Have you noticed that the buttons on men’s and women’s shirts are on different sides?
If all men were lefties, and all women were righties, this would explain things. But because most people are right-handed, the reason is obviously different.

5-Minute Crafts is going to tell you why the buttons on women’s and men’s shirts are on different sides.

The truth is, historians don’t have a single point of view about this. There are several theories, some of which might be true.

Theory № 1: In the past, women got dressed with the help of their servants.

One of the most popular theories says that in the Victorian era and the Renaissance, most wealthy ladies didn’t get dressed on their own but used their servants’ help. It was partially because womens’ clothes of the time were much more massive and complicated than mens’. And putting on corsets and all the dresses alone wasn’t that easy.
To make it easier for the servants to button the ladies’ clothes up, tailors might have placed the buttons on the left.

The people that don’t agree with this theory say that noble men also used the help of their servants and often had even more buttons than womens’ clothes. But the buttons are still on the right side.

Theory № 2: Women needed to feed the children, and men had to protect their countries.

There’s a theory that women often breastfed their children using their left hands. So, unbuttoning the shirt was easier if the buttons were on the left side.

But for men, it was more comfortable to have the buttons on the right because the clothes of wealthy men often supposed they would have weapons with them. The right hand might have been busy with a sword and the left hand could be used to unbutton the clothes.
This idea seems even more reasonable if you pay attention to the 19th-century paintings. You can often see men hiding their hands in the unbuttoned part of their clothes from right to left.

Besides, there’s a version that the buttons on the right could be just a leftover of the war times. In armor, the metal plates covered each other from left to right. The left side was protected by a shield. To prevent a situation when someone’s weapon got in between the plates, the left part of the plated was always on the top.

Theory № 3: Buttons on the left side demonstrated the status of women.

This idea is very similar to the first one. But there’s a difference: the left-side position of the buttons could really be connected with the servants but not to make their lives easier. According to this theory, dresses with buttons on the other side could be an indicator that the lady was incredibly rich. So rich, in fact, that she didn’t have to get dressed on her own.
Fashion trends of the time often appeared to demonstrate wealth, so this version might be true.

Why has this trend remained? Probably because many people tried to look like rich people. And then it became a tradition.

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