If you’re currently wearing a shirt, take a look at the button placement on it. If you’re a man, the buttons will probably be on the right, but on a woman’s shirt, the buttons are usually on the left. How about starting to unlock the secret of buttons on the left side of women’s clothing?
It seems like something we all take for granted, but why is it? In most countries, right-handers outnumber left-handers, so why are women’s shirts always buttoned on the left?
Short answer: There is no definitive reason behind this practice, but there are some plausible hypotheses; one of them, until the mid-1800s, noble women recommended this style of dress to their servants. The buttons on the left made it easier for them to shoot their minions rather than torturing them.
As with many other historical traditions and events, there is no specific, indisputable reason why women’s clothing should have buttons on the left side. But as noted, there are good assumptions, so let’s take a closer look.
Buttons on the left are more useful if worn by someone else
This is one of the most popular hypotheses and it makes a lot of sense. According to this idea, the left button trend was determined by wealthy women in the Victorian era (1830-1900).
At that time, both men and women wore a lot of clothes. However, women’s clothing was very complex, consisting of corsets, petticoats, bloomers, dresses, aprons, and a wide variety of accessories. Therefore, they always needed help getting dressed. With this in mind, fabric manufacturers have designed more wearable garments to prevent servants from being fired.
There is a more recent assumption about women’s clothing that has had a lot of success over the past decade. Right-handed women can hold their dolls in their left hand, leaving their right hand free. Hence, it becomes more convenient for them to unbutton and breastfeed their babies with ease in shirt design shirts which consist of buttons on the left side.
Another hypothesis stems from a widely held belief in the Victorian era that “the left hand descends to the right”. Putting buttons on the left side of women’s clothes is a subtle indication to women that they are inferior and that they do not forget their “good place” in society. Of course, this assumption makes no sense, and the margin of truth is completely zero.
Besides the various suggestions offered to explain the buttons on the left side of women’s clothing, there is another hypothesis. It is said that Napoleon Bonaparte, a prominent French general and political leader, desperately wanted to prevent women from making fun of him. In one of Napoleon’s most famous portraits, he appears with his right hand under his waistcoat.
They hid their right hands under their clothes, thinking they were mocking the women’s iconic poses. To put an end to this growing fashion which clearly offended the great executive, he ordered that women’s clothes have only buttons on the left side so that they would no longer be mocked by their laconic poses.
However, it is unlikely that Napoleon’s orders for women’s clothing alone managed to capture the entire world view of how women’s clothing should be designed.
Many assumptions have been described, but none of them can be considered the real reason for placing buttons on the left side of clothes. Women’s clothing can always remain a mystery!