It all started with the boutonniere in the 1600s, the dashing first lapel adornment and the first version of lapel pin. A boutonniere is a lapel flower. And the word is French for buttonhole, which is where the flower goes.
It was worn at formal events, namely weddings, to ward off evil. It's the male version of the bridal bouquet which did the same.
In the 1700s, the French joined the British in making the frock coat, breeches, and boots the trend in men's fashion. That's when the boutonniere went from wedding wear to streetwear. The top frock button was left undone and the flower perched inside.
In the 1800s, the boutonniere was a fashion must for men, together with great boots, a cigar case, watch chain, and jeweled pin. Finally, in the 1900s, the lapel pin joined quintessential men's style, with the pin for all occasions and flower for formal wear.
Today, there are so many choices for stylish lapel decoration. But which to choose, you ask? Check out these tips on how to pick the right lapel pin and find which pins speak to you. Then, go decorate your lapel.
Lapel Pin Basics
Lapel pins are meant to wear on your left lapel. A lapel pin can be a gent's stylish accessory. A lapel pin can be symbolic or a political statement, like a politician wearing an American flag lapel pin or a pink ribbon.
A lapel pin can show membership to an organization, or excitement and interest, such as for a sports team. A lapel pin can be part of a tradition, like a boutonniere at weddings. It can show recognition or honor, like a military badge.
Where to Put a Lapel Pin
There's often a buttonhole on the left lapel. That's for lapel pins and boutonnieres.
With the boutonniere, you stick the stem through the hole. There's often a fabric loop inside the lapel to hold the stem down so you don't have to pin it and put tiny holes in your lapel.
Same goes for a stickpin type lapel pin. With all other lapel pins, just stick the pin in the hole and secure with the fastener.
How to Wear Lapel Pins
If the event calls for it for tradition or has a either a formal or unspoken dress code, such as a wedding or prom, wear a boutonniere. You can also wear a boutonniere or flower lapel pin at other social events that are on the more formal or traditional side.
For work, stick with something more subtle than an eye-catching flower, whether real or not. Think small and metal.
For a military occasion or when wearing military medals at another occasion, be sure to follow traditional etiquette. Wear medals and other pins on the left lapel. Use a brooch or bar to hold them. Keep them horizontal and in only one row. Start on the right with the top medal and go left in descending order.
Don't wear a pocket square with medals as you do with other lapel pins.
Choosing the Best Lapel Pins for You
There are a few basic types of lapel pins: the boutonniere, the floral lapel pin, the mini-pin or badge, the stick pin, and the brooch. These come in various sizes and colors. Look at color, occasion, personal style, and preference. In most cases, do not wear a lapel pin for a job interview or a funeral.
Subtle Versus Flashy
If you're wearing a suit or shirt that's loud and bright in color or pattern, stay on the conservative side when you pick a lapel pin, so it doesn't clash with what you're wearing.
Go with a solid metal such as a die struck pin, and keep it small. Do the same if you want a more refined, classic, clean, less-is-more look. No fuss here.
On the other hand, if your jacket and shirt are neutral and simple in color and style, and you want to jazz it up, a larger, bolder, and more colorful pin works. Think cloisonné or colored enamel lapel pins. Or go for a fun floral fabric pin or hard floral-design pin.
If you want a colorful pin, choose one that coordinates in color with something else that you're wearing.
Choose a pin that matches the color of your pocket square, or your tie. Choose a pin that coordinates well with the color of your jacket. Or choose a pin that goes with your shirt.
As with all lapel pins, less is more. So choose something that balances with what you're wearing. If you have a blue suit, it's okay to go with a pink floral-design fabric pin, but then keep it a soft or mellow-toned pink and not too big.
Go with the same metals. If your belt buckle and watch are silver, for example, choose a silver lapel pin. Make sure it matches all other metals you're wearing.
Symbols and Design
The sky's the limit with lapel pin designs, especially since you can have them custom made. Choose a pin that expresses what you want to say, whether it’s symbolic, like a flag, or literal, such as your favorite sports team emblem.
Do you like basketball? Get a small basketball lapel pin. Do you like the Knicks? Get an enamel pin with the Knicks logo.
Want to show some flair? Go with a poppy design made out of silk or light cotton. Or choose a coral flower stick pin or one made of mint-green.
If you're going to a wedding or prom, you're safe with a boutonniere on your lapel. If the event isn't top-level formal, you can also choose a lapel flower or a small, elegant pin of silver or gold.
Have Fun with Your Lapel Pins
Lapel pins have really made a comeback recently in men's fashion. Try a few different styles. Mix and match with different jackets based on your mood or the occasion. Make your own if you don't find what you're looking for.
Contact us if you want to look at custom-made lapel pin options. You can tell us the design, logo, or words you want, and we'll give you a free quote. Plus, we have all kinds of lapel pin styles, from cloisonné to soft enamel to photo-etched and more.