Women are just discovering why their shirts button on the left and not right

Women’s blouses tend to button on the left, while men’s shirts are more likely to have fastenings along the right-hand side – and there’s an interesting reason why

Woman adjusting her shirt buttons
Women’s shirts button on the left, but why?

It has been an interesting year of discovery for women – more specifically, women’s clothes – as two stories emerged explaining why they are different to men’s clothing.

Now internet sleuths have turned their attention to shirts, and why the buttons on women’s are on the opposite side to men’s.

As the Daily Star reports, there are a variety of theories as to why this may be the case, and one dates back to when men were locked in battle, and another theory is to do with child-rearing.

Melanie M. Moore, founder of women’s blouse brand Elizabeth & Clarke, has a different theory and thinks she may have unearthed the reason once and for all.

There are many theories about why women’s shirts button on the left


Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Why do you think women’s blouses button on the opposite side to men’s shirts? Let us know in the comments…

One thoery is that men’s shirts had buttons on the right side because most men held their swords in their right hand.

This meant they needed to be able to unbutton their shirt quickly to duel and unbuttoning using their left hand was faster.

As to why women’s buttons are on the left, many believe it’s because women tend to carry their babies in their left arms.

It’s possible that women’s shirts were designed to be opened or closed with the free right hand to make breastfeeding easier, so they were buttoned on the left and open on the right.

It also may be because way back when women were expected to ride horses sidesaddle.

Buttoning up on the left may have kept the breeze from blowing up their shirts as they galloped across fields.

Another possible explanation for the variation in button placement could be traced back to the rise of emancipation when women began to abandon their girdles in favor of pants and other traditionally male clothes.

As a practical technique of distinguishing between men’s and women’s clothing, manufacturers placed buttons on the left side of women’s clothing.

Melanie M. Moore, founder of women’s blouse brand Elizabeth & Clarke, has a different theory.

“When buttons were invented in the 13th century they were, like most new technology, very expensive,” she told Today.

“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.”

There are a variety of possible reasons as to why men’s and women’s shirts are buttoned differently.

At this point though, it all comes down to good old-fashioned tradition.

Do you have a story to share? We’d love to hear all about it. Get in touch via [email protected]

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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