Anything Left-Handed > Product news > Requests > One-sided clothing

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.


We 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. Wendy Day says:

    I cannot purchase coats/jackets other than those for guys,because they are not too expensive!,for height reasons!, and because the zips/buttons seem to be on the right and with those from menswear departments of shops such as Pull and Bear and Peacocks, the zips/buttons are on the left, which helps, as a lefty!

  2. Vince says:

    All my long-sleeve shirts and sweaters wear through at the right elbow. Perhaps that is because my left arm works more, so my right elbow rests against counters, tables, etc. I am just wondering, though, if the left elbow is made slightly sturdier by the manufacturer, to prevent right-handers from having this difficulty. If that is the case, here is an opportunity for some really beneficial left-handed products.

  3. Lee S says:

    What would it take for them to put one on BOTH sides (inside) the coat? Sheesh!

  4. Val Banton says:

    I purchased a wonderful new winter coat, and loved the 2 large pockets. It took me 6 months to discover an inside, and therefore more secure, phone pocket. I never looked because of course, I use my phone left handed, and the pocket is sewn into the left side lining. It would be great for a right hander. For me, useless. The phone just has to go outside. Great idea. Bad execution.

  5. Paul says:

    Left handed bikes anyone? You know? Front brake with the right hand, back brake with the left. Kick stand on the right side, gears on the left?

  6. Kath says:

    Regarding sewing machines, I have looked into this and it turns out they are all left handed! Originally designed with a hand crank on the right they were built to favour the ‘stronger’ right hand. All the technical stuff was then done by the left hand. When the treadle was introduced they kept the design as it was because it was cast in metal so it was cheaper to keep the moulds as they were. After that the design just stuck. Its no wonder I love all my wonderful sewing machines!

  7. Irene Power says:

    I find most banks now have there pens glued to the counter – always to the right – no use to me. The only bank I have been in who have two – one to the left and one to the right is HSBC. have also had this problem in other establishments were you have to ‘sign in’

    • Val Banton says:

      I’ve become ruder as I get older – I just push myself to the right and barge people out of the way so that my left hand can use the pen. It makes the teller look up, and therefore aware there is a problem with the pens. The best bank was one where the teller just pushed an ordinary pan through the hatch and then asked for it back because the ones chained to the counter were not working! I had no problems that day.

  8. Mrs Wade says:

    My son is left-handed and looks awkward writing but is capable of doing so neatly. However, it has just dawned on me being left-handed may be the reason why he wrecks so many coats ruining zips. He is 6 years old, and this idea has just popped into my head!? Now on the internet hunting left-handed boys coats…

  9. Lee from Australia says:

    I agree about the ‘oven mitts’ and was recently pleased to discover a product here in Australia that works for either hand. It is an oven mitt, like a mitten where the thumb goes in the top (smaller) part, and the rest of the fingers go in the bottom (larger) part. It is called an ‘Oven Gauntlet’, and it comes up to about midway between the hand & the elbow so you can balance a big item better, if necessary. It’s part of Coles’ ‘cook&dine’ line, and it’s only $3 AUD! Downside is that it’s made in India. If you’re outside Australia, you may be able to find it online, but you’d need to know someone here to send it to you. You might also try and ask them who the manufacturer is and/or find out who might carry this sort of product in your country. Good luck.

  10. D E Goldberg says:

    Messenger bags – most annoying as they are all made for right handers. Phone pocket on the wrong side – zips on the wrong side etc – would love one for lefties

  11. Zuelke Margaret says:

    I disagree with your argument on the scrubs. With the breast pocket on the left and the lower pocket on the right, I, being left handed, would get my little pad of paper (or whatever) out of the lower pocket with my right hand, and get my pen out of my breast pocket with my left hand (where the pen belongs). Now, before you make an argument of society molding me to perform in such a manner, realize this… A right-hander would have to cross his/her arms across the body in order to get their pen & paper out their pockets, or get the items as I do & swap the items from one hand to the other, while all the left-hander has to do is grab them as I do, with no switching involved. Doesn’t that prove that scrub tops are made for the left-hander?

  12. Keith Davidson says:

    Your email contained a comment about fencing kit being only right-handed. This is incorrect, fencing kit must be the correct handed-ness for the fencer. All kit including clothing is available in left-handed versions. In fencing the ration of righties to lefties is about 50/50.

  13. C Stammers says:

    Sari: definitely a cultural thing. It’s considered dirty to use your left hand for cooking, washing, etc. Ignorance?

  14. Gary Huck says:

    I have been a left-handed mae all of my life, i am 68 years old and after reading all of these stories about how other left-handed people are having trouble living in a right-handed world, i find it ineresting very interesting. I have never had any of the I have always managed o survive without any trouble. Maybe it is decause i am ambi-dextrous. I once read where Albert Einstein was able to write two different languages with both hands at the same time, so i tried it myself,,by writing German with my left had and Russian with my right hand at the same time, kowing what my hand writing looks like using my ormal left hand, i realized i was able to do what Me einstein did. I had no trouble at all .

  15. Loyd Cadwell says:

    I am absolutely amazed that no one has mentioned jogging/workout suits–especially pants (short pants as well). I have been looking well over 15 YEARS for ones with left-sided-back-pockets for my wallet. I have NEVER FOUND A SINGLE PAIR!! It’s always either no rear pockets, or only on the right side.

    If ANYONE can tell me where I can find any, please let me know. I would buy SEVERAL sets!!

  16. christine says:

    Dressing gowns as a youngsters used to irritate me as the pocket was always on the “wrong” side for me!. I recently took a business class fight whereby you are provided with a “sleep suit”.. the pocket is again on the “wrong side” just so annoying.
    where belts have a pattern or wording they are only for right handers as when I put this style of belt on the pattern or working is upside down. I did not realise this one until I bought a belt of this style in my late teens..
    handbags with motifs on one side is also irritating as well as the zip issue that has been mentioned on this site already. it means if I decide to buy a handbag with motif on one side (for the right hander) it will never be visable.
    the Ipad issue has been mentioned here also. it is just so annoying when I am using the ipad. currently I have a very old phone… I doubt the new ones are left hander friendly.
    I was bought a very good quality leather wallet/purse… only trouble is it is for a right hander. I am invariably turning the purse upside down to open it, trying to remove my card. I look all fingers and thumbs and again very irritating.
    the list is endless really,…

  17. Jamie says:

    People often laugh at me when I point out ‘function-neutral’ items that are designed for right handed people. I pointed out to my husband once when we were dating, that pens and pencils were ‘right handed,’ because any inscription was ‘right side up’ in someone’s right hand, but looks upside down to a left-handed person. He didn’t laugh – he said ‘I never noticed that!’ 2 months later, I received a beautiful pen for my birthday, with my name engraved in the ‘correct’ direction.

  18. Clara Fitzgerald says:

    Coat zippers on boy’s jacket. Especially the ones with the velcro fold-over flap from left to right. And the coat bunches up and blocks your view. My now 10-yr-old has always had trouble trying to do these left-handed.
    I had literally not thought of the “reversed fastenings” rules in relation to coats – next year I will need to try to find my son a girl’s jacket in a neutral color. So all women’s clothing has forced right-handers to adapt…
    [My sister was left-handed, so I was sensitized to notice it in my son. When he was 2-3 years old, he would try to copy what he was shown, thus using his right hand. He was ambidextrous enough I had to point out to his teachers that he was naturally left handed – he happened to be eating chunks of banana with his left hand at the time.]
    I did at one time share a two-computer workstation with two students who were both left-handed (not always all there at the same time) – I would sometimes sit down at the computer on the left and reach for the mouse to the right and panic when it didn’t respond [it was of the course the mouse on the left side of the other computer…] I sometimes prefer to use a mouse with my left hand (so I can type with my right), but the buttons must be reversed.

    Response to a previous post – my son does do EVERYTHING left-first – first arm in coat, leading foot, socks on, turning around (note most left-handed gymnasts and figure skaters do their routines mirror-imaged). My (right-handers) reflex when helping him is to reach for the right first; I try to remember…

  19. Ali Ajao says:

    I remember been beating for the fear that all lefty are of devil side and handling SPOON was terribly tough for me with my right hand at the prime age, i find it easy to use my left but i will be left out with no food if i really want to dine with the left, this was hectic and i have to watch whenever i want to eat that no one is around to disturb me from eating, Thank GOD i have the knowledge now, but many lefty children of my tribe till today are still suffering this if knowledgeable person is not around to educate about this.

    • Derek says:

      Don’t know how long ago you were suffering beatings for using your left hand, something one hopes is firmly in the past. My school days were long enough back to see every boy, having deserved a punishment, caned on his backside at least once or twice. On one occasion I was caned by a left-hander, which meant that the brunt of the strokes fell on my left side, instead of the right as usual. Quite a surprise when it happened!