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Article: Buttons, and gender equality


Buttons, and gender equality

Fashion and the art of dressing oneself are often regarded as a frivolous pursuit, but it does reflect greater cultural event and issues in the society that surrounds it.

The buttons for a women's shirt are on the left side. Men's, on the right. This is because men's shirts are oriented for ease of buttoning by a right-handed wearer. Women (those who could traditionally afford luxuries such as buttons), had servants to dress them. Hence, their buttons are placed so that a right-handed dresser can fasten them.

I'm going to make a very simple observation: society deemed that men were capable of doing up their own buttons, and women needed assistance with such a task. More fascinating is the fact that even after (and while) women fight for equality, the button placement has not changed.

Presently, most women are adept at buttoning the "wrong" side when they steal their boyfriend's shirt. Vice-versa is not as common, which caused some hilarity when I was trying one of our new tops on a guy. "Why are the buttons on the wrong side," he exclaimed, fumbling, emanating a frustration similar to that of a child learning to tie their shoelaces. "Why can't I do this?"

I teased, and did the rest of the buttons up for him while pondering this interesting dilemma: I had a shirt that looked equally fabulous on either gender, making it a perfect candidate for a unisex, or genderless, style. But what "gender" would the button placement adopt? 

Initially, I thought it would make an interesting statement to leave them on the women's side, forcing men to adapt as women did when they started borrowing men's button-ups. 

But wouldn't it be fascinating to move women's buttons over to the men's side once and for all, abolishing the antiquated notion that "ladies" are not capable of dressing themselves? Or, to be truly democratic, shirts could be offered with "left-handed" and "right-handed" button options. It's a significant decision, at least in my little head. 

While it's understandable that not many people are as enthusiastic about button gender equality as I am, I would love to hear your opinion. Send me an email at 

The shirt in question, which does not have a name yet. Another reason to email me, I'm fresh out of name ideas! -Katelyn

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