View previous topic | View next topic

Buttons

Page 1 of 2
Goto page 1, 2  Next

14-11-2014
1118175.  Thu Feb 12, 2015 5:31 pm Reply with quote

CharliesDragon wrote:
It could also be a status symbol for women, in a "I'm so rich I have other people dress me" sort of way and spread for that reason.


It could also be one of the other stories. Most women cradle a baby on their left arm, combined with breastfeeding. Men having to be ready to draw swords. Or a king dressing himself, while the queen was dressed by servants.

 
suze
1118176.  Thu Feb 12, 2015 5:50 pm Reply with quote

We discussed this very topic nearly six years ago in a thread which begins at post 527861.

CharliesDragon and 14-11 between them have mentioned most of the common theories on this matter, and those theories are also mentioned in the earlier thread.

The most commonly heard theories are the one about ladies having maids to dress them while gentlemen dressed themselves, and the one about men needing access to the sword and women needing access to the nursing breast. (Supposedly, only the left breast was used for this purpose in some bygone age. But did the ruling classes - who made the rules of buttons - put their children to their own breasts in any case? Or did they have people for that?)

Another theory concerns ladies riding side saddle. They did not want to give a free show of their breasts to any men who might approach from behind, and so arranged the buttons such that this did not happen.

 
Zziggy
1118181.  Thu Feb 12, 2015 6:02 pm Reply with quote

Hmm, I have to say I'm not totally convinced by the breast-feeding/sword-fighting idea.

On the woman's end because, as you say, posh women didn't breastfeed their own children (I seem to remember something about Queen Victoria causing a scandal when she decided to breastfeed her own children), and also because a woman's shirt opens right-side-first so it would be quite awkward to open the left side with your right hand, and also because it doesn't intuitively make sense to me (having not ever had a baby obviously) to only ever use one boob to feed your baby, surely the other one would get really full and ... crusty?

And on the man's end because I can't see men doing much sword fighting whilst also trying to do up/undo their shirts. Plus who's going around putting their sword on before their shirt? That's like putting on your tie on before your trousers or something.

I'm more convinced by the "posh people did it and it spread" theory, much as rich people in the past could go on posh holidays and now poor people buy fake tan, or before that rich people ate loads of sugar and so poor people blackened their teeth. Plus as you say, the posh people would be the ones who decided what got standardised.

 
Zziggy
1118183.  Thu Feb 12, 2015 6:05 pm Reply with quote

It seems kind of strange to me at all that the women's shirts are the "backwards" ones in the first place actually; it would seem to me that if you were designing a shirt, you'd want the fiddly bits to be dealt with by your dominant hand, which for most people is your right.

 
suze
1118189.  Thu Feb 12, 2015 6:28 pm Reply with quote

Zziggy wrote:
Because a woman's shirt opens right-side-first so it would be quite awkward to open the left side with your right hand


I think the idea is that you open the right side of the shirt, use the baby to cover the right breast, apply the baby to the left breast, and then cover the baby with the open part of the shirt. This means that the baby doesn't get cold, and that neither breast is on display to the world.

But I have to agree that it seems improbable that this uniboobal breast feeding was ever standard.

Zziggy wrote:
And on the man's end because I can't see men doing much sword fighting whilst also trying to do up/undo their shirts. Plus who's going around putting their sword on before their shirt?


Well, we're talking of an era when a chap might be challenged to a casual duel at dinner.

The sword was usually won on the left, so if a chap's coat was buttoned the girls' way, he might get his sword caught in the flap when he tried to draw it. Buttoned the boys' way, the issue does not arise.

 
Zziggy
1118193.  Thu Feb 12, 2015 6:43 pm Reply with quote

Ok, I can see that being an issue if men wore really flappy shirts back in the Olden Days.

Just read the old thread. I didn't realise men's zips were different too!

 
Alfred E Neuman
1118210.  Fri Feb 13, 2015 1:40 am Reply with quote

Zziggy wrote:
I didn't realise men's zips were different too!


They're not. Women's zips are different. :-)

 
14-11-2014
1118221.  Fri Feb 13, 2015 4:50 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
I think the idea is that you open the right side of the shirt


Most women will cradle the baby on their left arm, so it would be easier to perform most tasks with the right hand. After the opening you can use the other arm again. The baby isn't attached to the left arm.

Regarding getting dressed: that could be a polite version of men undressing women, but that's my own version of a trendsetting king and queen.

 
Zziggy
1118237.  Fri Feb 13, 2015 5:31 am Reply with quote

The thing is ... I've had enough experience with women's clothes even in modern times to be skeptical of the notion that anybody was going "you know what, we need to make clothes more practical for women!"

I mean, I've seen a Georgian dress that had a holder down the chest for a piece of wood, because it was so fashionable to be the kind of woman who literally couldn't move in any meaningful way. To say nothing of corsetry.

I find it much easier to believe even that someone just decided it might look indecent if there were any chance of a woman looking like she might possibly be wearing a man's shirt than the idea that it might be something designed to help a woman in daily tasks.

Plus I'm still hung up on the fact that breastfeeding your own child is still kind of a modern idea (at least for those people who historically "mattered").

 
14-11-2014
1118249.  Fri Feb 13, 2015 6:11 am Reply with quote

Zziggy wrote:
I find it much easier to believe even that someone just decided it might look indecent if there were any chance of a woman looking like she might possibly be wearing a man's shirt


The answer remains no. But in a way this reverses the king and queen story socially, and it's not unlikely. If your common clothes were cheap and shapeless, and it was quite dark, then it could have been harder to notice that you were wearing the wrong unisex shirt. Again an own theory, supporting your believe.

 
filofax
1118259.  Fri Feb 13, 2015 7:08 am Reply with quote

Quote:
Another theory concerns ladies riding side saddle. They did not want to give a free show of their breasts to any men who might approach from behind, and so arranged the buttons such that this did not happen.


Not quite sure I understand how this works. Seems that if you are approached from behind, your boobs are not likely to be the first thing someone would see. Plus, if your shirt is buttoned, no matter from which side, decency is ensured. Likewise, the position of your legs on a horse seem irrelevant.

 
Zziggy
1118282.  Fri Feb 13, 2015 8:45 am Reply with quote

14-11-2014 wrote:
Zziggy wrote:
I find it much easier to believe even that someone just decided it might look indecent if there were any chance of a woman looking like she might possibly be wearing a man's shirt


The answer remains no. But in a way this reverses the king and queen story socially, and it's not unlikely. If your common clothes were cheap and shapeless, and it was quite dark, then it could have been harder to notice that you were wearing the wrong unisex shirt. Again an own theory, supporting your believe.

I can't tell whether this says "I'm not convinced, but it's not a bad hypothesis" or "you made that up, you twat".

 
suze
1118333.  Fri Feb 13, 2015 11:55 am Reply with quote

filofax wrote:
Not quite sure I understand how this works. Seems that if you are approached from behind, your boobs are not likely to be the first thing someone would see. Plus, if your shirt is buttoned, no matter from which side, decency is ensured. Likewise, the position of your legs on a horse seem irrelevant.


I think I've proved that this explanation is nonsense, as you rather suspected.

Ladies riding side saddle normally have both legs to the left of the horse. Side saddle riding with both legs to the right is a thing - apparently it's called off-side saddle - but it's uncommon and not traditional.

Now, a lady riding side saddle does not in fact sit at 90 to the direction of travel. It's more like 15, but apparently they did sit squarer in the Olden Days*. So let us suppose she does sit at 90.

Now, suppose a strong gust of wind blows her buttoned coat open, and suppose that she has nothing under it. Buttoned the women's way, her right breast will become exposed to a person approaching from behind. Buttoned the men's way, her left breast will become exposed to a person approaching from the opposite direction.

The latter is not a major issue. Our lady rider sees the people from the opposite direction coming, and so checks that she is decent before they get close enough to get a good look. The former is undesirable - she can't see the following riders coming, and so doesn't know that they're getting an eyeful.

Accordingly, if the reason for the buttons were to do with decency while riding side saddle, women's clothes would button the men's way. Therefore, this is not the reason.


* Except for Catherine the Great, who is said to have set Russian tongues wagging by riding astride. But then she was the archetypal ladette - she drank pints of beer, had a prodigious sexual appetite, and is said to have shocked the gentlemen of the Royal court with her foul mouth. Of course she rode astride.

 
CharliesDragon
1118336.  Fri Feb 13, 2015 12:07 pm Reply with quote

Catherine the Great didn't give a shit about men's stupid rules, she did what she liked.

With the number of layers on clothes in The Olden Days I also find it unlikely that a woman wouldn't be wearing six layers under whatever was buttoned, and maybe showing your undergarments would be undesriable in the highest regard for a lady, there's very little chance of any skin showing. The theory is busted anyway, but that was my first thoughts as to why that is not likely.

 
Jenny
1118383.  Fri Feb 13, 2015 4:50 pm Reply with quote

I always thought the women's buttons being on a different side to men's was to do with a maid doing them up for you.

 

Page 1 of 2
Goto page 1, 2  Next

All times are GMT - 5 Hours


Display posts from previous:   

Search Search Forums

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group