Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

Fashion can be a bit convoluted sometimes, especially when looking at fashion history.

While it usually isn’t too difficult to figure out why a certain pair of pants looks good with a certain shirt, the schematics of how different fashion trends began could very easily lead you down a rabbit hole of mostly useless information. One of these rabbit holes is, of course, buttons.

In the centuries since their creation 800 years ago, buttons have become a true staple of clothing for both men and women.

However, if you’ve ever seen a man and a woman both wearing practically identical button-down shirts, for example, you will quickly realize that there is a difference between the two – the woman’s shirt has buttons on the left side, while the man has them on the right.

Men button their shirts left to right.

Getty Stock Image/Tara Moore

While many theories and debates have emerged over the years regarding where this gendered phenomenon originated, the true reason brings us back to the creation of buttons themselves.

Ultimately, it was simply due to the time period that buttons came about and who they were often worn by.

When buttons became a part of men’s and women’s fashion back in the 13th century, the wealthy women who commonly wore them were typically dressed by handmaidens.

Since handmaidens were typically right-handed, buttons being placed on the left side made dressing ladies much easier.

Alternatively, while men were often dressing themselves, many would also be carrying swords.

Paul Keers, author of A Gentlemen’s Wardrobeexplained to The Guardian: “A gentleman’s sword was always worn on the left side, so that it could be drawn with the right hand.

Women button right over left.

Getty Stock Image/Marie LaFauci

“If a jacket buttoned right over left, the handle of the sword would be likely to catch in the jacket opening when drawn, so any serious swordsman would demand a tunic which buttoned left over right.

“As an indication of a masculine lifestyle, this tradition was then extended to other items of menswear.”

Realistically, the trend continued simply because there was no reason for it to end.

However, it is theorized that the gendered difference between a man’s button placement and a woman’s did become more vital at certain points in time, such as in the 1880s.

“It was fashionable for women’s clothing to look more traditionally masculine,” fashion historian Chloe Chapin told Today.

“However, it was illegal in many places to be dressed like a man in public, so perhaps having a difference in buttoning confirmed that you were wearing a female dress.”

By Admin