Maybe you've noticed it, maybe you haven't, but one of the primary differences between men and women's button up shirts is that they button up on the opposite side. On shirts, they're on the left for the ladies and on the right for the gents. 

Which made us wonder... why?

Well, the answer is because of horses, babies, and Napoleon.

There are several different theories as to why buttons are gendered on dress shirts. Many of them are interesting, and historically rooted, but none have been deemed labelled definitive.

Theory 1. swords

Men's shirts had buttons on the right side, with the open flap on the left. In the olden days of yore, wealthy men's clothing often included weaponry (I'm waiting for the day when the GAP has a buy 2 get 1 sword free campaign!). Since most people are right-handed, and therefore hold their sword in the right hand (sorry lefties!) it was, according to this Quora thread, "more convenient and quicker to use their left hand for unbuttoning. 

So where's the evidence? Portraiture. Take a look at this dude and you'll notice a pretty popular "hand-in-coat" stance from the 19th century. 

Seen here is a right-button orientation that, according to The Art of Chivalry: European Arms and Armor from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was designed to "insure that an enemy's lance point would not slip between the plates, they overlapped from left to right, since it was standard fighting practice that the left side, protected by the shield, was turned toward the enemy. Thus, men's jackets button left to right even to the present day."

Well, we've got the men's buttons down, but why are women's buttons on the left?

Theory 2. Babies

Sorry again lefties, this shirt button orientation has really left you in the dust. The position of these buttons was based on the fact that most women (right handed women) hold their infants in their left arms. So putting the open flap on the right made it easier to maneuver their shirt for breastfeeding. 

Theory 3. Horses. 

So you know how in the olden days women, in large part, rode sidesaddle? Putting the shirt and dress buttons on the left hand side reduced gusts of wind from entering the shirt as women trotted along

Theory 4. Spite

The time when clothing manufacturing practices were becoming more standardized (aka the early days of industrialization) was also the early days of the women's movement. One theory holds that clothing manufacturers were feeling spiteful, so standardized little things in men and women's clothing that would ever so subtly re-assert a difference between the genders. 

Theory 4. The most reasonable theory

It's pretty well known that during the age of industrialization, when clothing was becoming standardized, wealthy women didn't dress themselves. The buttons are on the other side because it was easier for servants to help rich women get their shirt on if the buttons were mirrored. 

When buttons became easier to manufacture and apply to clothing, opening them up to mass consumption, the buttons remained on the left so the masses could mimic the style of the wealthy

Fun fact about this one: The 19th Century sexologist Havelock Ellis tried to use the difference in buttons to argue that women were inferior to men, because men were able to dress themselves. 

So what do you think? 


Being woken up suddenly is not very good for our health.

Especially for the elderly, it's not something to make a habit of. Sleep interruption can increase blood pressure, cause a worsened self image, and cause a day filled with irritation and confusion.

No one wants to be woken up, but there are definitely some reasons for being woken up that are worse than your alarm clock.

We went to Ask Reddit to find out some of the worst reasons people have been woken up.

Keep reading... Show less

People have a habit of excusing crap behavior - honestly because it's often easier in the short term. Long term = flaming dumpster fire.

Keep reading... Show less

We live in a time where we are critically re-examining how we pay workers. After a two-year-long pandemic where some low-income and "unskilled" jobs were deemed "essential," we now must put our money where our mouth is.

For too long in the world have incredibly important jobs been overlooked or else outright maligned. Teachers in the USA make some of the least money, career-wise, and have some of the hardest jobs. Dancers pay to put their bodies through hell with no guarantee of paid work after training.

Keep reading... Show less

What causes a small town to die?

Honestly, there can be quite a few factors, but perhaps the biggest one is that small towns often lack the upward mobility opportunities that are more available in urban areas.

As a result, many towns around the United States for instance have lost tens of millions of people as their populations seek jobs and opportunities elsewhere.

And what remains of these places can be pretty sketchy.

People told us more after Redditor RadicalizedSnackWrap asked the online community,

"What's a super sketchy US city that we never hear about?"
Keep reading... Show less