Buttons have been used since ancient times to fasten or decorate clothing. Archeologists have unearthed buttons dating back to times earlier than written history.
But in the 1200s, when fitted clothes took the place of loose robes tied by string or fastened by pins, buttons became popular. At that time, both men and women had buttons sewn on the left side of their garments, the same side as women do today.
Then, during the Middle Ages, a change occurred. Men needed to unbutton their coats quickly to draw their swords, which hung on their left side. Since the sword was drawn with the right hand, it took a great deal of time for that same right hand to first undo the buttons.
Therefore, men’s buttons were changed to the right side so that a swordsman could use his left hand to unbutton his coat and immediately draw his sword with his right hand.
Although buttons today are made of plastic, shells, glass, metal, leather, and pearls, the ancient Greeks of 4,000 years ago had buttons of solid gold!