Sew Hip


Sewing buttons...on the right or left?

The Curious Case of Men and Women's Buttons

On shirts, they're on the left for the ladies and on the right for the gents. That's because of horses, babies, and Napoleon.

"Are you wearing lady clothes?" Darryl Philbin asked Michael Scott.

No, the regional manager of the fictional Dunder Mifflin insisted: His suit fits him, and he is a man, therefore, "at the very least, it's bisexual." What made it clear to Michael, finally, that his "power suit" was indeed also a women's suit was that the buttons of its jacket were, he noted, "on the wrong side."

Leave it to Michael Scott to bumble, via a sales bin and a career separates brand named MISSterious, into an insight about the arbitrary gender differences in clothing. Women’s and men’s shirts and jackets differ not just in terms of how they’re cut, but also in how they’re oriented: To the person wearing them, men’s dress shirts have their buttons on the right, while women’s have them on the left.

This is not a big thing, but it is a weird thing: Every day, millions of people are walking around with these little reminders of gender inequality emblazoned on their chests. There are different theories as to why the discrepancy exists in the first place, but all of them come down to this: The Button Differential is a relic of an old tradition that we have ported, rather unthinkingly, into the contemporary world.

Check out the rest of this post on The Atlantic!

Brittany Severns