With warmer temperatures greeting us, it is time for spring cleaning. To breeze through this tedious process and expedite things, I volunteered to help the younger man in my house organize his closet. Hidden among his woolens was a buttoned shirt that I had not seen him wearing in years. He had obviously outgrown it ages ago. When “Recycle and Reuse” is the slogan that we keep hearing, why not put it to practice? The shirt could definitely be used by Mommy!!!
“Hang On! The buttons are on the right”, I thought. That’s the basic difference between a man’s shirt and a woman’s. Fashion has its own set of rules. I did know about this, but it was not until recently that I knew the reason behind it.
Why are buttons on different sides for men’s and women’s shirts?
At the time when the button was first invented, women’s clothing was complicated and elaborate with petticoats, bloomers, gowns, corsets, and bustles. Out of necessity and luxury, the female members of the wealthy families had servants who helped them dress. Most people were right handed, and it is believed that in order to make it easier for the servants standing across to button up their employers’ shirts, the buttons were sewn on the left.
The reason for buttons being on the right for men’s shirts is traced to the military. Male soldiers often drew their weapons with their right hands, so it was easier to adjust and unbutton with their free left hands. Another theory runs that if a weapon was hidden inside the shirt, it was more convenient to pull it out from the right side.
History set a pattern, and although time has elapsed, it has become a standard procedure for buttons of men’s and women’s shirts to be stitched on different sides. However, this minute detail rarely crosses the eye!
I took my decision!
Coming back to my scenario, I had to decide. My youngster came up to me a few days ago with his question: “So what have you decided? Do you think the buttons being on the right is really a big deal? I don’t think anyone has the time to observe so closely, anyways!”
I thought to myself. He was right! Why should a handful of buttons set the guidelines for me about what to wear and what not to? After all, I’m going to use it just for casual wear. A woman wearing a man’s shirt the right way can amount to a stylish fashion statement.
I came up with a few ideas. The shirt is white and a crisp cotton one. It is perfect to be worn in the summer with a pair of blue jeans! Also, it can be paired with a delicate lace skirt. The third option is to wear it beneath a dark-colored fall jacket, left unbuttoned.
It seems so foolish to discard an almost new shirt just because the buttons are on the right. All that matters is wearing something in style. White, by the way, is my all-time favorite colour, and thanks to my young man, I now have an addition to my wardrobe!
(This article was featured in Women’s Web )