By Raisa Bruner
November 2, 2018

Fashion can be confusing. But now we have a new explanation for at least one common detail found on jackets — and it’s a theory that has given the internet plenty of laughs this week.

“Taken me 18 years to find out that the weird shoulder buttons on jackets is to hold your bag in place so it doesn’t fall off,” shared Twitter user Francheska Horsburgh recently. “Who knew?”

Horsburgh’s discovery quickly made the rounds online as people considered the real reason for the epaulettes, or shoulder straps, that adorn many jackets that evolved from military style.

As it turns out, the fashion detail wasn’t actually born out of the need to keep your handbag on your shoulder, per se. It’s actually a lasting nod to formal military uniforms, where the straps were used both to keep things shoulder sashes and belts in place, and to hold ornamental decorations (also called epaulettes) that correlate with rank.

The fact that the should straps also can now function as handbag holders is a handy (or hands-free, as it were) evolution of that earlier use case. And, if the responses to Horsburgh’s epiphany are to be believed, people are pretty excited to start using the straps this way.

Write to Raisa Bruner at raisa.bruner@time.com.

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