the buttons on shirts

Why do the buttons on men’s shirts always button left over right? Is this an arbitrary fashion thing? Has it ever changed?

It makes it easier for a right-handed person to fasten the buttons. It’s not arbitrary.

But aren’t buttons usually the reverse way on women’s shirts?

Back in the day ladies who could afford manufactured clothing could also afford maids to dress them. The buttons were oriented so the right handed maids could easily button them.

Back in Ye Olde Days, woman with a decent amount of wealth (IE, the types which could afford a decent amount of clothing) would typically have a servant help dress them. Thus, the button were reversed to help out the servant. Now, most women, even those who buy tons of cloths, don’t have servants, but the tradition stuck.

Note, I heard this awhile ago, so if this is wrong, someone please correct me.

No one, not even the Perfect Master, really knows the answer to this one:

Weirdly enough, my new clearance-rack jeans from J Crew are backwards; they’re definately women’s jeans but they button and zip the manly way. It’s very strange and hard for me to do.

And wealthy gentlemen didn’t have servants dress them?

I’ll buy the breastfeeding idea. My kids were nursed on the left side primarily (especially if I was multi-tasking), because I could hold the child to that side with my left arm, while my right arm/hand worked on other things. OTOH, if the shirt is unbuttoned, it doesn’t really matter which flap has the buttons…

I always thought that the difference was there so that dry cleaners would know how much to charge for cleaning the shirts. Back in the day, they often charged twice as much to clean a woman’s shirt as it did a men’s shirt. I think that practice is gone now, after much social protest.