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One-sided clothing

We received an email from Graham recently that got us thinking again about one-side clothing that is awkward for us lefthanders to wear and use.


“As a pilot I can get a pilot's pullover with a pocket on the sleeve to stow pencils etc. However as a left hander it is simply on the wrong side (pesky right handed designers). Can you let me know if I can get one with the pocket on the correct side, that is on the right arm so I can reach it with my LEFT hand and go straight to work.”
Graham W.


Pilot pullover designed for right-handersWe have reported before on left-handed underwear and we will be doing some more research on this for the next newsletter, but we wanted to get your initial views and experiences to help us get started. Clothing items that come immediately to mind include:Pants / briefs with the openings going the wrong way

  • Shirts with pockets in the wrong place (left arm or left breast)
  • Trouser with one back pocket (on the right)
  • Zips and buttons that open the wrong way (though there is a whole issue here about mens and ladies clothing and the opening directions being different)
  • Technical clothing such as Tactical Vests and Gun Dog Vests.

Follow up

After our short feature on one-sided clothing last month we got some interesting comments about other items that cause a problem for lefthanders:

  • Coin pockets in men's suit jackets
  • Bras, especially front fastening ones
    [Keith – I don't understand this one so please tell us about it!]
  • Nurse's uniforms seem to be made only in right-handed versions
  • Jacket zippers, for men and ladies, is there something “handed” about zips that is not obvious? Linda has such a problem that she ends up going around in winter with her coat undone!
  • Left handed tool beltsBelts – most are designed with a symmetrical fastening so it doesn't matter which way you start threading them, but some have a “directional” buckle design and can end up being upside down if you do them the wrong way. We have started a Poll on our facebook page to see which way left-handers thread their belts and will let you know the result next time
  • Tool belts – these are clearer and need to be designed as a mirror image so the tools can be hung on the left hip. We have found some suppliers for left handed tool belts in the USA
  • Thomas says his shooting vest has patches on the front of both shoulders but only the one on the right is padded, so shooting left-handed is literally a pain!
  • Jessica tells us that most “scrubs” (sterilised medical theatre clothing) are right handed and cause her lots of problems as a lefthander.
  • And Barbara tells us… I recently found a lovely hair barrette with a butterfly design but when I was trying it out I quickly discovered that the clip was right handed, the butterfly was UPSIDE down. For the life of me, I could not get the barrette straight using my right hand and now it sits in a drawer. Evidently all my life (66 years) I have purchased plain barrettes where their was no upside or downside. We need left handed hair barrettes!

We are sure you have a lot more ideas on this and look forward to seeing your comments – add them below.

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109 comments on “One-sided clothing
  1. Asya says:

    As for the clothing the most dissappointing things are pockets. Especcially on sports gear – it supposed to be very comfortable and usufull but for lefties all these nice and smart pocket are on the other side. For those ladies who plays tennis – tennis skirt with underneath shorts and ball pocket – there is a special pocket for the ball and in most cases it is on the left side when lefty needs it on right as in left hand there is a racket.

  2. Yvonne says:

    forgot to say that I learned the violin right handed, recorder right handed, piano right handed. School didn’t allow us to be lefties in the 1950s but my mother was enlightened and complained. I have left and right hand scissors, left and right handed carving knives (with serrations) and my computer at home is left handed, but not the keyboard – I need a new one and the left handed one was approx. 10 times the cost of a right hand one!

  3. Jacqueline Harvey says:

    I like the new silicone oven mitts that are universal, especially since I sometimes put it on right-handed to turn my broiled potatoes halfway during cooking.

  4. Yvonne says:

    As a leftie, I have problems with buttoning, when I make something I make it the way I like it but if I’m making for someone else I check which way they want the buttons. My first knitting machine had a right hand handle, I complained as I worked for them too and all subsequent machines of that make have ambidextrous handles. Sewing machines are the wrong way round too but the cost of tooling would be prohibitive to make leftie ones. Keyboards should have the number section detachable so we can move it to the other end of the keyboard to use the numbers efficiently. Computer server programmes can t change the mouse on 1 keyboard it changes everyone’s (I’ve been tempted). Approx 10% of the population are left handed but we are discriminated against more than any ethnic minority.

  5. Nersen says:

    Hi! Just to add to the part about sarees; Im no fundi on the subject however I do know that a certain sect of Telugu speaking Indians do actually wear their sarees on the opposite side….

  6. Scott Stewart says:

    Not clothing related, but problematic for me: For the use of computer mouse buttons, I find the phrases “left click” and “right click” confusing and annoying. Since I use my mouse with my left hand (and have the buttons set to left-handed), for me “left click” is “right click.” I suggest that the descriptions should be “reverse click” and “click,” respectively.

    As does Ian Radburn, I play guitar right-handed, but some other tasks I cannot. Bolt-action rifles were a nuisance until I found that left-handed models now are readily available (I’m left-eye dominant, also).

    I’m a lifelong resident of the Colonies (pardon any American “misspelling”). Once I had the opportunity here to drive a right-hand-drive Jeep with a manual transmission but found it quite difficult to shift left-handed — again, probably because I’ve adapted so much to shifting with my right hand.

    • Susie says:

      I think I’ve mentioned it before (in response to another thread somewhere here), but I actually use my computer mouse with my right hand. Makes more sense in a way, really, as it means that I can fill the left-hand side of my desk with pens and various bits of paper! I can actually use a mouse with both hands, though, which is one advantage I guess. I don’t actually drive, but having had vague driving lessons as a teen in the UK, when I moved to Belgium I was scared to try! But, I guess, if you’re adaptable enough it shouldn’t be a problem. Cars aren’t designed left- or right-handed – they’re just designed to be practical for the country they’re being driven in.

      • Scott Stewart says:

        Susie, I didn’t mean to infer that cars have handedness”; however, you have phrased this far better than did I. What I attempted to convey is what you stated exactly. My American car has a manual shift, so of course I shift with my right hand. When I drove the to-be-exported car with the steering wheel on the right side, I found it to be awkward.

        I have been unsuccessful using a computer mouse with my right hand, although I know many other left-handers who do so. I acknowledge the advantage, but it doesn’t work for me. Apparently, I was manufactured” as a test model” person! 🙂

  7. Janessa says:

    My chef jacket!!! The pocket is on the left, as well as the spoon and whatever pocket on the left arm, then despite there being two sides of buttons to do up the shirt, the very top is always on the left, rather then the right, as we are as lefties, we need the opposing side.

  8. Danny Estridge says:

    Don’t give up on anything your doing, you can tell from sales what works, I just can’t afford anything right now, but if and when I get some money, I’ll be ordering stuff from you guys. But please don’t try and sell BS pencils and pens, I’d rather have left handed note books and stuff like that. Plus when I have some money I’d like to know more about kitchen utensils likes knives, spatulas, stuff I can use, not left handed “peelers”, that’s a joke. Like a lot of stuff you have, but some is total BS and I know I can choose but it would be easier to order stuff without sifting thru the BS, Sorry, That’s how I feel. I know I’ve offended you and am sorry, but I’m left handed and really have problems with people trying to sell “gimmicks”. Just want you guys to be more forthcoming to say you can use stuff either way versus only left handed Please. Thanx, Danny

    • Laura says:

      Danny, left handed peelers are not a joke! I can only imagine you’ve never tried peeling anything – I use a right handed peeler which means have to peel away from me. The peel ends up all over the work top!

      As for the pencils, yes they are just a gimmick but they do make a point. I’ve seen a few righties look a bit confused when they’ve used my pencil, they can’t figure out why the writing’s upside down. Even when you tell them it’s because it’s a left handed pencil, they don’t really get it until I take it off them and hold it “properly” 🙂

  9. Monica says:

    I play golf and cannot get skorts or shorts or pants if they don’t have left pockets. that really gets annoying especially when I find something I really like but can’t get it because of the pocket situtation.

  10. Ella says:

    Really interesting to read about clothing and the struggles my fellow lefties have. However the mention at the end about fencing jackets, was a shock. As a fencer for nearlyn25 years and a leftie, there has never been any problem in getting left handed foils, jackets, gloves, electric vests or any equipment. Also being a leftie, especially in competitions is pretty common and has a far higher percentage than in everyday life. I would often fight as many lefties and right handers.

  11. Patricia says:

    Being left-handed, I notice quite often that when I use a credit or debit card, I want to slide it in the opposite direction that it requires. Does anyone else notice that? I have to stop and think. It seems backwards to me….as do most things in this right-handed world.

  12. Another Laura says:

    For those who were wondering about bra closures, most bras close with a small row of hooks and eyes, so they offer many of the same problems as buttons, except hooks and eyes require more small motor dexterity in the operating hand, and they are often behind you!

    Oddly enough, when I was taking fencing, I had no trouble finding fencing jackets that were left-handed or ambidextrous (zipped in the back and padded on both sides). Of course, I ordered my gear online, where left-handed gear is just a drop-down box away.

    One thing that annoys the heck out of me is knife sheaths! I have several fixed-blade knives that I might carry while camping, hunting, hiking, etc. They all came with sturdy sheaths that had belt loops. All of them hang with the sharpened side of the blade forward when worn on the right hip. All. Of. Them. I need to get around to making some of my own, but I need to find the time and confidence…

  13. hilly says:

    Here’s a twist on the question: my pet peeve is that SEWING MACHINES are designed exclusively for right-handers, making home repairs to clothing utterly excrutiating to perform, entirely more expensive (those needles cost $$ to replace!), and absolutely more dangerous for the left handed.

    Add the fact that lefty children are graded on their proficiency in grammar &/or middle schools, and I can’t understand why there isn’t a parental revolt, at the very least.

    P.S. – And if you are looking your best and want to document it with a photograph, good luck finding a CAMERA that won’t plummet to the ground when you are carrying in your left hand, wobble when you try to snap the picture or have a camcorder viewing screen on the right side.

  14. hannah says:

    Having worked in an operating theatre for 22 years and wearing scrubs every day, it’s a case of getting on with it as with everything else in this right handed world. I personally don’t see what all the fuss is about. PS for some reason I can’t use left handed scissors.

    • Janessa says:

      I feel your pain. I can’t use left handed scissors either. Although I figure it was because of elementary school. My teacher almost never let me learn how too, I found them uncomfortable because it was just round circles for your fingers, rather then the form fitting to the hand as they are with righties, being mid 2000s, it wasnt recognized the same as this website has. Since then, I’ve just naturally adapted to only right handed scissors, and deal with the markings and pain, and wonky lines too.

      • Susie says:

        I’ve never been able to use left-handed scissors, but that’s mostly ‘cos I’ve adapted to using right-handed ones in my left hand! It means, because I’ve gotten used to cutting at an angle, leftie ones just don’t seem to work…

        The other problem was, as you say, the stupidity of the leftie ones! I had the kids safety scissors and they were terrible (in the 80s, mind, in primary school). They seemed more gimmicky than of any actual use, as being safety scissors it seemed that they didn’t have the actual sharp edges required for cutting!

  15. Shona Stewart says:

    To Kate Shea.
    I did fencing a number of years ago and was able to buy a second hand jacket glove,and lame competition jacket. All of which were left handed. You would probably need to special order from a specialist vendor.

  16. Mark says:

    Shooting shirts usually have the padding only on the right side which does not do much good for shotgunners who mount left because they are left eye dominant.

  17. Toni Wood says:

    The baton pocket and whistle pockets are on wrong side.

  18. chas says:

    Not directly related to clothing. I wear my wrist watch on my right wrist. Once I asked a shop assistant to replace the strap. I said I wanted it replaced “upside down” in order that I could wear it on my right wrist. The assistant came back with the strap fitted for a right hander. I asked why my request hadn’t been complied with. I was told they were not allowed to fit the strap in the way I wanted. I was told it was difficult and impossible. I took out a small nail file and undid the strap. I then replaced it as I wanted in the space of a minute, or so. I then asked the assistant what was so difficult and impossible about my request. They made no reply!

  19. peter beard says:

    in relation to pen pockets on jumpers and bomber jackets, why dont the manufacturers use large patches of velcro on both sleeves and let the wearers decide?

  20. prerna says:

    In India we women wear sarees now the bummer for a lefty girl would be that the pallu i.e draping goes over the left shoulder so its always feels so uncomfortable . moreover u cannot do any work with satisfaction as it is always a hinderance even if u pin it up it still is so so irritating especially we are to wear Saree to wedding and other social gathering and put a smile onto the face as if u have so comfortable to the place.!!

  21. David Thompson says:

    Further to my earlier comment on trousers, I have the habit of standing ‘akimbo’ with thumbs inserted in the rear pockets, which is not possible with ‘right handed trousers’ with only one right placed rear pocket. You don’t even have to be left handed to like standing akimbo, so for some years now I have check if trousers have two rear pockets and if not, I don’t buy.

  22. Laura says:

    It’s not exactly clothing, but I discovered last week that mitten style oven gloves are designed for right handed people! I was at my mum’s house doing some cooking, and she doesn’t have double oven gloves like I’ve always used. So I put on her mitten one and took hold of the roasting tin in the oven, only to find that it was only properly padded on one side – the side that a right-hander would use! Luckily there was enough thickness of material on the side I was using that it didn’t actually burn me, but I certainly put that roasting tin down fast!

    As to belts and zips, I’ve never had a problem with those (or at least if I found a zip awkward I just assumed it WAS awkward – my partner struggles with zips too and he’s right-handed). I thread my belt the same way as the trousers are fastened, i.e. if they button right over left that’s how my belt goes, I’ve always thought it looks neater that way. I’ve always worn plain belts so it doesn’t matter which way up they are.

    Handbags I always carry on my left shoulder, they don’t feel comfy on my right shoulder.

    I bought a purse/wallet in a sale a few weeks ago – there were loads of them, all half price. I’m a bit fussy about purses, but this one seemed perfect, although I couldn’t quite figure out why – until my partner wanted to borrow a trolley token, opened my purse and everything fell out because, according to him, the whole thing was made upside down. It’s a left-handed purse! I don’t know whether it was made that way on purpose, or whether they were all put together wrong, but I had a good giggle thinking about all the Righties with these purses, struggling every time they use them, like we usually have to 🙂

  23. Tery says:

    As a 60+ left hander and a handyman, do-it-yourself kind of guy I came up at a time when they wouldn’t let me write left handed and all the tools were made for right handers. I had quite a struggle but eventually learned to do most things with either hand. I must say the most difficult thing I have run into was shooting an M16 automatic rifle left handed in the military. All the hot brass was ejected right down your collar. At the time they had nothing to offer as a substitute. Isn’t it funny that lefties are probably the most discriminated against people group but to my knowledge there has never been a discrimination suit from them. Anybody know of one?

  24. Alice Nathan says:

    When I was first married and received wedding gifts, I could not for the life of me flip pancakes with my new spatula. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not successfully flip them. Years later I went into a store for left-handers only. It was wonderful! And, I discovered that my spatula was slanted the wrong way for me. That’s all that was wrong–not me, not my incompetence, but the spatula was wrong. I bought a left-handed slanted spatula and have had no difficulty since.

  25. Scilla Rosenberg says:

    IPad. Just acquired one and have got sore upper left arm. Everything designed for right hander so lefties either have to use right hand or stretch
    Also handbags either the strap is designed for right hander or the zip is the wrong way or the phone slot. Belts buckle on right thread through on left

    • Asya says:

      Totally agree! iPad and iPhone and other latest designed smartphones are suprisingly designed for right-handed – camera battons, switches, etc. Wondering, how could Steve Jobs create the most savvy designed phone forgeting about lefties…

  26. Steve H. says:

    When I was growing up in England, it was fashionable to tie (or even sew) the belt/sash of a child’s dressing gown to the left belt loop leaving a short left end and a long right end. I never understood why it was so difficult for me to tie up!

    • Phil says:

      The infuriating thing I find is that if I buy a pair of trousers or suit is that all the necessary pockets are on the RIGHT.Its ok for the jacket inside pocket;but the coin pocket & chest pockets are allways on the left.

  27. Ashleigh says:

    Do my fellow lefties find they tend to favour their left side more than right? Yes I’m a leftie and have adapted to a right hand world, but I favour my left most times. Few examples:

    Tops, jackets etc, left arm in first
    Trousers, jeans etc, left leg first
    Put my left sock on first, same with shoes
    Wear my watch on my left wrist
    Wear my handbag on left shoulder
    Do my left eye first when applying makeup (guess my natural hand closer lol)
    Got ear pierced at top on left ear first n right couple yrs later
    Got nose pierced on left side (was easier to put minute stud in without crossing my face so to speak)
    First tattoo was on my left shoulder blade
    Paint my left toenails and finger nails first
    Apply perfume, moisturiser etc to left hand side first
    The rings on my left hand are prettier than my right hand. Prettier ones ALWAYS go on my left hand

    I know most people would say that I’m displaying I’m more right handed, it’s not that. I physically think my left side deserves things first!!!! (I’ll pick up my straight jacket on the way out lol)

    • Patricia says:

      You are a true leftie. I can identify with all the things you mentioned….except I carry my purse on my right shoulder…I guess so I can get into it easier with my left hand.

      I play ping pong left-handed and tennis (when I used to play.)

      I do work a mouse on the computer with my right hand, however. My son told me I should learn to do it that way.

  28. Stuart Carmichael says:

    I have spent the last seven months in hospital and am intrigued to find that while left handed doctors are exceedingly rare the percentage of left handed nurses and auxiliaries is far higher than the average, although I haven’t counted I estimate the percentage to be between 30 and 40.
    On LH Day I had a compllete LH team at my bedside. I am very lucky to be LH because it is the only limb in working order!
    Most nurses have their hair done up in a bun, keeping a selection of pens pushed into it, but tunic pockets seem to be RH.

  29. Kath says:

    I would have to agree with Barbara – hair barrette’s are the bane of my life! I LOVE to clip my hair up and love all the gorgeous barrette’s out there but can only put them in with my left hand so they have to have a symmetrical pattern or be plain.
    I have never had a problem with putting on my bra though – would love to hear the explanation for that!!!

    • Phil says:

      The thig that annoys me is when I go to buy a new suit(off the peg;rather than made 2 measure)the inside pocket of the jacket for a wallet is on the right:fine; but when you want a coin or key pocket it is allways on the left.Also as so many have already said the rear pocketof the trosers are always on the right;so unless you buy a made to measure suit you end up with 3 pockets you never use!

  30. Leo says:

    Zippers: A quick check of my closet revealed that not all zippers have the pull on the same side. Perhaps a tailor could replace offending zippers with ones that fit together suitably?

    Carolyn: It’s not just right-handed bolts and ejection patterns. I’m left-eyed, and aligning the sights is not fun.

    Fencing and similar activities: I’ll take the lefty’s advantage, but if you don’t know if you’d like a sport such as golf or archery, the expense of getting left-handed equipment to learn with may prevent you from even starting.

    Pockets: Agreed

    Belts: I don’t see the issue. Dressing properly requires the belt to be threaded from left to right. Period.

    Computer mice: I realized early on that I’d be using other’s computers often, so I learned to use the mouse right-handed. I can adjust to using a left-handed mouse. But laptops and tablets seem to have eliminated, or changed, the problem.

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