A Not-So-Obvious Distinction Between The Buttoned Clothes

Ever wondered what the difference is between a man and a woman’s buttoned shirts?

Aside from how men and women’s shirts, jackets, suits are cut, they also differ on their clothes’ button orientation. Men’s shirts have the buttons on the right while the buttons on women’s shirts are on the left.

This is such an odd thing. Every day, there are hundreds of men and women walking in the streets with their buttoned clothes, and no one ever notices the arbitrary difference in the buttons’ orientation.

When or where this started is a puzzle. There are many theories as to their origin, however, a majority of these point to buttons being relics of the past and part of an old tradition which was carried over to the new contemporary world. This is called the Button Differential.

With men’s shirts, the buttons are placed in the right placket with the flap opening to the left. A common explanation says that clothing for rich men in the past often involved weapons. Since it was easier to pull out the weapon with the right hand, the clothes with buttons were fashioned to be on the right more convenient for unbuttoning with the left hand. Also, since majority of men have a dominant right hand, they would use their right hand to hold the weapons and use their less dominant left hand for unbuttoning their shirts.

As for the women, there are also many theories regarding this matter. A prominent theory has something to do with babies. Since majority of women are also right handed, they often hold their babies in the left arm so as to keep the right hand free to do the finer works. Another theory has to do with horses. Women rode sidesaddle and to the right. So by having the buttons of the dress to the left, it reduces the air that would get into their dress as the horse travels along.

The next time one plans on buying Men’s Sweaters or women’s office dresses, this odd little knowledge of buttons and their orientation as well as the theories surrounding it will linger.

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