French language uses the word boutonnière for the buttonhole on the lapel of a man’s suit jacket. The buttonhole is reserved specifically for this purpose and there is no corresponding button on the other side. There may be a small latch on the underside of the lapel which holds the stem in place (this is usually the sign of a higher end garment). This is located on the left side just above the heart of the wearer.
The boutonniere was commonly worn by men when they went on dates, at work and of course for formal wear for decades, although they became less common after WWII. Marty Robbins popularized “A White Sports Coat and a Pink Carnation” in 1957. They remained popular with entertainers such as Dean Martin, The Commodores, and Frank Sinatra, contributing to their classic and classy style. The boutonniere was still considered de rigeur for formal occasions such as weddings, funerals, proms and homecomings. Business wear waned somewhat, although a single stem or lapel pin continued to be worn, with many top executives / more fashion forward gentlemen continuing the tradition even today.
How to wear a Boutonniere?
The ideal way to wear a boutonniere is through a buttonhole that has been placed on the lapel and contains a latch to securely hold the boutonniere in place. A jacket that doesn’t have this feature requires florist pins to hold the bout in place. It may take a few times of practice, but you will soon master this look. Use the following steps to firmly attach a boutonniere to your suit coat:
- Locate the ideal position on the wearer, slightly above the heart on their left side.
- Position the boutonniere and step back to observe how it looks prior to pinning. Pins can break the threads in fabric, so the fewer attempts the better.
- Work the pin from beneath the lapel, threading through the upper portion of the stem and then back through the lapel. Depending on the size and weight of the boutonniere, two pins may be required to hold it firmly in place.
- Thicker fabrics may require placing the pin on top, catching the upper layer of fabric, rather than from behind the lapel.
- Conceal both ends of the pin behind the flower.
How to Wear a Lapel Pin
Like the real flower boutonniere, the lapel pin is placed on the left lapel above the heart. There are a number of attachments, but my favorite and the most common is the stick pin.
The stick pin can show through the front of the jacket, as shown (which is a little more dandy). Or alternatively kept behind the lapel.
The best benefit of the stick pin lapel flower is the ability to mix the look up, and you do not require a button hole, functional or otherwise.
The origins of the boutonniere have long reflected bravery, masculinity, and competitive skill. It is considered a sophisticated look that is still appropriate today. The modern twist to the classic boutonniere through the use of natural materials has renewed interest in men who want to personalise a dapper appearance.
Common lapel flower pin materials include: felt, linen, cotton, paper, silk, satin, burlap, etc. Further, the most common attachments are: stick pins, buttons (require your jacket to have lapel button hole), and clutch pins
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Author: Paul Anthony