Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Button Wednesday : Left or Right ?

It is Wednesday again, so it's BUTTON DAY on my blog !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Buttons left or buttons right ? That's the question. Buttons on men's dress are on the left-hand side, while they are on the right-hand side on women's clothes. Or, to make it even more complicated: when facing the wearer, men's buttons appear on the right and women's on the left. Are you still following me ?

This is a true and universal fact, but why ??? I read several, all very fantastic and more or less dubious, explanations.
1. In folklore and superstition, the right side is masculine and the left is feminine.
2. Once men were wearing swords at their left side. Buttoning to the right didn't interfer when drawing the sword with the right hand because the sword didn't catch on coat openings and edges.
3. Certain types of men’s armour were designed to be more resistant to the sword of a right-handed attacker (left flap is over the right flap making it harder for the tip of the sword to end up between the flaps).
4. Because the left side of a coat overlapped the right side it was possible for a man to lift the left side and pull apart the coat thus revealing the sword and giving access to the handle quickly in the case of emergency. Were they to be overlapping in reverse (i.e. right over left), access to the sword handle would be very difficult.
5. Men use their left hand to button up, leaving their sword arm free (always being prepared to slay).
6. The right side was considered the "side of honor" when two people walked together. So, the swordsman walked on the right leaving his sword arm free and he could put his free hand into his coat front to keep it warm.
7. An addition to 6, but now the woman (the one that was to be protected). She walked always on the left, and so she could also put her free hand into her coat front to keep it warm, because her coat was buttoned to the left.
8. An addition to 6, the gentleman could not peek in the opening between his women companion's buttons, because they buttoned from the opposite direction.
9. Most rich women (and they were the ones who had buttons on their clothes) had maid dressing servants. For them it was easier to fasten their mistresses' clothes from their right, which was the mistresses' left. Most men dressed themselves.
10. Common women wore simple buttons, which were easier to (un)button from the right to the left when they were carrying their babies in their left arms, leaving their right arms free to do tasks.
11. Left-sided buttons on female attire are for easy facilitation of nursing babies on the left breast, closest to the heart.
12. It was unseemly and unwomanly for women to be wearing clothing that was too much like a man's. So, the right-left-differentiation is a result of the gradual approximation of female and male dress and the resulting necessity of distinction.

If you know more, please let me know :)

Have you seen a lovely, beautiful, stunning, crazy button or button-related thingy, or did you make something with a button / buttons, or did you even make buttons yourself, blog about it on your blog on Wednesday, and give the link here in the comments so that everybody can enjoy it !!


inger lutje schipholt said...

All rules of a bygone time, I vary the side of buttons to please the eye ;D Whichever side looks better for buttons gets them .

Kreativlink said...

What amazing facts! Hehehe... the sword arm. Those where times ...

PetitPlat Miniature Food - Stephanie Kilgast said...


now I need to check that lol :D

Katerina said...

Now, that was interesting. What about a left handed sword man? :))))))

plateshutoverlock said...

I always make sure my buttons are on the left (right side of blouse buttons over left) and I like it when men do the same thing.