Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

My understanding is that today, most men's clothing buttons left-on-right, i.e. the buttons are on your right. A Hassidic kapote or bekkeshe reverses this, but if you order a "Litvish" ("Lithuanian", i.e. non-Hassidic) version, it comes left-on-right, the same as an ordinary men's suit or shirt sold today.

Okay ...

I was looking at a photograph from right about 1900 of a Jewish Lithuanian family, and the father's frock coat is clearly right-on-left.

Was that common in the non-Hassidic world at that point?

share|improve this question
Many of the photos I've seen of R' Moshe Feinstein show him wearing coats buttoned right-over-left – Noach MiFrankfurt Feb 22 '15 at 6:13
many styles of clothing thought of today as only being worn by chassidim were worn by all Jews in pre-war Europe – Dude Mar 1 at 6:36
@Dude And non-Jews as well – Double AA Mar 1 at 15:41
up vote 3 down vote accepted

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frock_coat has some photos which are clearly left-on-right and others that are right-on-left. Here's another right-on-left from that time period in the US Ozarks: http://www.millercountymuseum.org/archives/120730.html#photo_21

I think styles were much less fixed in non-industrialized areas (as described here):

Photographs of California's hopeful '49ers clearly indicate that civilian fashion is not yet fully standardized insofar as the direction of opening is concerned. Paintings can regularize that which is not in reality regular, whereas photographs do not alter these small matters.

Clothing was made entirely by hand until the invention of the sewing machine (c. 1850). As soon as clothing could be mass produced cheaply, which was not until about 1875, it began to be fully standardized. Contained within this standardization were many differences that existed at the time, becoming institutionalized without anybody's being aware of it.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.