Why do men wear buttons on their coat sleeves?

Use as Cuffs

Some buttons now used as ornaments once served a useful purpose.  The buttons on men’s coat sleeves were once used to fasten the cuffs back over the long lace frills that decorated shirt sleeves.

The word “button” comes from an old French word which means “to push out.”

This is exactly what the button does.  It sticks out from whatever it is attached to, ready to be pushed out through a buttonhole to fasten a garment together.

Buttons were used as ornaments thousands of years ago, but for a long time it did not occur to people that they could use them to fasten their clothing.

At one time, both men’s and women’s clothes had buttons on the left side.  During the Middles Ages the buttons on a man’s garment were changed to the right side so that he could quickly unbutton his coat with his left hand and at the same time pull out his sword with his right hand. – Dick Rogers

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