My last post was about pockets and gender; today I am considering the other Road Not Taken: buttons. I mention gender patterns of button placement in the book very briefly, but did not wade in beyond ankle-depth, because I still have not seen a credible explanation for why women's shirts button right over left and men's left over right. I don't buy the button-in-back vs. buttons-in front rationale
because it is never (ever ever ever) accompanied by evidence. Someone out there -- not me! -- needs to do an artifact-based dissertation on button placement in men's and women's clothing. The question gets more complicated when you consider that for centuries both boys and girls wore dresses and skirted styles, and we don't know if there was a button placement convention there, either.
The only "button rule" I discerned was that boys seldom had clothing that buttoned up the back, and girls often did. My school dresses -- those cotton frocks
of my youth -- all had buttons AND a sash in the back, so that my mother had to help me get dressed every morning. I also needed her help to exchange school clothes for play clothes every afternoon.