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?

  • 1
    Many of the photos I've seen of R' Moshe Feinstein show him wearing coats buttoned right-over-left Feb 22, 2015 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, 2016 at 6:36
  • @Dude And non-Jews as well
    – Double AA
    Mar 1, 2016 at 15:41

1 Answer 1


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.

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