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When most of us go shopping for a shirt, we tend to focus on something that fits and goes well with something else that we own. We don’t necessarily want to know everything that there is to know about the shirt, but sometimes it’s interesting to learn a few little facts on the subject.

One of those facts that have gone undetected by many people is the fact that the buttons are on the different sides of the shirt when you compare men’s shirts with women’s shirts. On a woman’s shirt, they are on the left side. On men’s shirts, however, they are on the right side.

Photo: Pexels/Karolina Grabowska

After this interesting fact was posted on Twitter, many people came forward to say that they hadn’t realized it was the case. Some of them even said that they were in their 20s and we’re just now realizing it.

So, why is it that women have buttons on a different side of the shirt than men? Is there really a need for it?

Actually, there is some debate over why the buttons are on different sides. One of them has to do with wealthy women who, at one time, didn’t dress themselves. According to Reader’s Digest, wealthy women would have others dress them, and they put the buttons on the opposite side of the shirt to make it easier for them to do it.

Photo: Pexels/Suzy Hazelwood

According to Today, another historian also spoke up on the subject in 2016. Chloe Chapin is a fashion historian, who said: “I think it’s important to question which time period we’re talking about, since shirt and jacket buttons are a relatively new phenomenon.”

Chapin went on to say that many elements associated with men’s fashion have a history in the military.

Since most men are right-handed, having the buttons on the right-hand side allowed them to access their weapons easily. That would be the most important factor to consider for military purposes.

Photo: Picryl/Digital museum

Chapin went on to offer another suggestion, and that is, in the past, it didn’t matter if you were wearing women’s clothing or men’s clothing. In the late 1800s, there was some masculinity added to women’s outfits but being dressed like a man in public was still illegal for women.

Southern Living also has something to say on the subject. They feel that it may have to do with childcare and breastfeeding a child. Since most women are right-handed, they would be carrying the infant in their left arm so they could use the right arm to unbutton the shirt.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Elle feels that it may have something to do with Napoleon. Although it is not confirmed, he may have been offended that people were mocking his position of putting his hand in his coat for a painting. Having women’s clothing buttons on the opposite side would not allow them to mock him.

Havelock Ellis is a 19th-century sexologist who feels that putting buttons on the opposite side for women was a sign of inferiority, according to Daily Star. It was assumed that they needed more assistance because they were the weaker sex so they would need to have help getting dressed more often than men.