Why men’s shirt buttons are on the right and women’s are on the left side

There are various theories as to why buttons are differently positioned for men’s clothing and women’s clothing. This has come all the way from the Victorian Era and the Napoleonic Era.Men’s button and women’s button are placed on opposite sides and this is common for all kinds of shirts in all countries. Let us know the different reasons as to why the buttons are placed on the opposite side.


1 For self-defense

Men have always been seen to be the ones who carry the armor and fight battles.The sword was the best kind of weapon that was carried by men. Most of the men were seen to be right handed and thus, they kept their swords on the left side. Since, swords were kept on the left side of their waistcoats, they had to be unbuttoned with the right hand that was convenient. Thus, the buttons had to be on the right hand side as it was easier to unbutton the same with the left hand as the right hand was occupied.

For self-defense

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2 Napoleon Bonaparte’s scheme

All the portraits of Napoleon Bonaparte have his right hand tucked into the coat which was achievable if the buttons were, from left to right. It was also seen that women used to stick their hands in their pocket like him and imitated him sarcastically. He thus ordered the women’s clothing to have the buttons on the opposite side so that they could not mimic him. Though this seems to be a doubtful incidence, this has been talked about for a long time.

Napoleon Bonaparte’s scheme

Image Source: www.wikimedia.org


3 How they dressed up?

A woman’s clothing was always known to be very flamboyant and had many layers and so the women had to be dressed up by maidservants. Men usually dressed by themselves in the previous times, while women were dressed by their servants. There were always servants for women who were categorically kept for dressing them. Since servants were mostly right handed, it was easier for them to dress women if the buttons were placed on the left hand side.Thus women’s buttons were placed on the left and men’s on the right.

woman’s clothing

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4 For modesty purposes

Though this theory has not yet been proven properly, it is said that in many churches in America and England, the church congregations were known to be separate where men sat on the right side and the women on the left. The buttons were placed strategically so that the least amount of flesh of the chest could be seen both by men and women through the slit of the buttons.

For modesty purposes

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5 The horse-riding factor

When there was a combat or a fight, men sat astride on their horses and rode on the left side of the road so that their right hands were free to hold the sword and defeat enemies.They could also draw the sword, from their left hips and the left side so that the sword did not get stuck in the hilt or the pocket of the coat.It was always difficult to draw a sword from the same side and thus the button was also positioned on the right side. Women, on the other hand rode the saddle sideways and they sat to the left because that was more comfortable. Buttoning on the left side of their shirts did not allow any wind to enter the gaps and thus this difference.

The horse-riding factor

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6 Women were seen to feed babies from the left side

At the same time, women were known to feed their babies from the left hand side and thus it was easier to unbutton the shirt from the left side with the right hand. This is also the most convenient position as babies can be kept warm by covering them with the right hand flap of clothing. Thus, the buttons are fastened over the left flap.

Women feed babies

Image Source: www.iamnotthebabysitter.com


7 Women were always trying to prove that they were different

Though women always wanted to be equal to men in all spheres of life, they actually wanted due advantage of being a woman in certain aspects. Though they wanted to be similar to men, they also tried to prove that they were different in some ways. They borrowed a number of features from the men’s clothing, but they actually changed some of it to prove that they were different. Hence, the buttons were also placed on the opposite sides.

Girl and boy posing

Image Source: www.theatlantic.com


These are some reasons as to why men’s and women’s shirt buttons are placed on the opposite sides. At some points it was due to the male patriarchal society while at some other times, it was for the convenience of both men and women. This has carried on since the very olden days and also now in the modern era.And, we have become so used to it that we never even questioned this phenomenon, but now you know why this happened.


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