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28th Aug 2016

This is why men and women’s shirts have buttons on different sides

Cassie Delaney

Alright children, gather round for the random fact of the day

You’ve probably noticed by now that there are some pretty substantial differences between men and women. One insubstantial but interesting difference is that men and women’s shirts have buttons on opposite sides.

There are many reasons for this and they all stem from ye olde times and ancient traditions.

Let’s start with men’s shirts.

According to The Atlantic, the reason for the buttons on the right placket and the open flap on the left is down to weaponry. Since most men held swords in their right hands, this Quora thread explains, “it was more convenient and quicker to use their left hand for unbuttoning.”

Women on the other hand have their buttons on the left.

There are two main theories for this, the first reported again by The Atlantic.

The theory is based in motherhood and states that given right-hand dominance, women tend to hold their infants in their left arms, keeping their right arms relatively free. So shirts whose open flap is on the right makes it easier for them to open with those free hands for breastfeeding.

The most recent theory was unearthed by Today co-hosts Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie who say that the style dates right back to the invention of the button.

Apparently only wealthy women could afford to have buttons on their shirts, and if you were wealthy, you also had ladies maids. The buttons were on the opposite sides as it made it easier for someone facing you to tie them up.

So there you have it. Now let’s sit back patiently and wait for the Myth Busters to validate any or all of the above theories.