I stumbled upon this frame from a comic and it brought back a question that I’ve had for many years that I’d never bothered to look up why. It turns out, this comic appears to be pretty accurate.
Some more detail courtesy of Ask Yahoo:
…suggests that in the 19th century, well-heeled Victorian women generally didn’t dress themselves, so their buttons were designed to be handled by right-handed servants. Although wealthy men may have had servants to lay out their clothes, they generally dressed themselves, and so the buttons on the right side of men’s garments made more sense.
Benjamin “Good Advice Is Timeless!” Dover of the Dallas Morning News. Mr. Dover notes that the first button jackets for men were modeled after the latching designs of armor, which were designed to stop a right-handed opponent from jamming a pike through the seam. He also suggests that the left-side buttons on women’s clothes may have been intended to facilitate nursing an infant on the side closest to the woman’s heart.
Jeff Elder of the Charlotte Observer suggests that men’s coats were designed to make it easier for them to unbutton their coats with their left hand while drawing their swords with their right.
As to why we continue to do this, I have no idea.