Adding a lapel pin to your outfit can give it the edge that makes it a suave, elegant ensemble. If done right, it shows you really know how to put together an outfit.
But considering how small lapel pins are they can be a lot of hassle to figure out. So, we’ve put together a guide answering all the questions you may have about wearing a lapel pin.
What is a Lapel Pin?
First thing’s first, what is a lapel? They’re the parts on each side of a coat or jacket immediately below the collar that are folded back on either side of the front opening. There are several different pin types that can be placed on the lapel for a fashionable flair:
The most formal of the lapel pins for men, the boutonnière is a floral pin that can be either fashioned from a real flower and pin, or a fabric one - high quality ones often being made from silk. Because of their formality, these are most commonly worn at black tie events, funerals and weddings.
The long-stem is a more contemporary fashion pin for the modern gentleman. With an eclectic range of styles, you’ll be able to find something you like for any event. Popular designs are crafted from metallic materials and fashioned into flowers, feathers, animals - the variety is huge. Each will have a long-stem pin to securely attach it to the lapel.
Badge or mini pins can be a fun way to personalise your outfit. Much like cufflinks, they’re available in a range of different designs; you can find anything from precious stone pins, personalised badges to vintage pins.
Lapel Pin Placement
What Side to Wear Lapel Pin
So where does a lapel pin go on a suit? There’s one uncompromising rule when it comes to pin placement: it must be on the left lapel, slightly under the collar point and north of your pocket square if you’re wearing one. Some suit jackets will have buttonholes made for this purpose, but if yours doesn’t, you can carefully pierce the pin straight through the material.
Lapel Pin on a Tie
If you’re not wearing a jacket, but are sporting a tie, you can wear a lapel pin on your tie. In this scenario it’s most common to place the lapel pin toward the middle of the tie. However, if you are wearing a jacket, it’s always best practice to place it on the left placket rather than anywhere else.
Lapel Pin on Dress Shirt
If you’re wearing neither a jacket or tie you can place the lapel pin on a dress shirt. This can be positioned on the left side of the shirt, near the heart, where the lapel would usually be.
Lapel Pin on Coat
To showcase your lapel pins on a more regular basis you could place it on coat. For everyday wear it’s common to use badges or mini pins as coat pins. Most high quality and more formal coats will feature a buttonhole on the left lapel. If not, you could pin these to the left lapel or even collar to give your outerwear look that element of individuality.
Lapel Pin Etiquette
One of the ongoing debates is whether the bottom of boutonnière or long-stem pins should be visible or hidden behind the lapel. Although keeping the bottom of the pin concealed is more traditional, it’s becoming increasingly popular to keep the bottom showing for a slightly edgier, cool look - especially if it’s a smaller pin design. There’s no right or wrong way. Try both and see what you feel goes best with your ensemble.
Because there’s such a wide range available, choosing a colour for your lapel pin can end up being a tough decision. We believe that the colour of your lapel pin should complement the rest of your suit rather than clutter it with colours or patterns that match your tie or pocket square. If in doubt, go with a neutral colour like off white or grey that compliments most colours.
Although you may be a big fan of going all out at events, over accessorising can be a serious faux-pas. Wearing multiple lapel pins, even if they’re really cool lapel pins, can sometimes look messy unless it’s for a cause like a red poppy. To achieve a sophisticated look it’s often best to be understated.
When to Wear a Lapel Pin
Now you know how to wear a lapel pin, it’s good to distinguish appropriate and inappropriate moments to wear lapel pins in which variety of shapes and sizes.
More formal events are the ideal opportunity to show off your lapel pins. If you’re wearing a tuxedo to a formal or black tie event the lapels will usually be peaked. This type of lapel is traditionally the most formal and fashion-forward. However, shawl collars are also acceptable. In these cases it is customary to wear the lapel pin on the left lapel which should already have a working buttonhole. Wearing a tuxedo is an occasion for a boutonnière - ideally a real single blossom in preferably red or white.
A boutonnière, real or material, can also be worn at a wedding. The most popular and traditional choice of flower is the carnation. A white carnation is the most formal colour, but other colours and flowers are becoming increasingly common. Often if they fit into the wedding theme, alternatives such as lavender, roses and sunflowers have been used.
In the past it was common for businesses to award employees a lapel pin to symbolise their achievements or show affiliation. Although not as common in modern-day organisations, these types of lapel pins are acceptable everyday wear as a suit or coat pin. However, you should use your discretion to determine whether it’s appropriate to wear at an event like a wedding or funeral.
Perhaps a rose lapel pin might be out of place down at the pub on a Friday night, but that doesn’t mean that other types of lapel pins can’t be everyday wear. Other more subtle pins like a long-stemmed lapel pin could give your suit that extra flair while you’re doing your daily routine at the office. Badges and mini pins can even be worn without a lapel - just attach them to a casual jacket, sweater or duffle coat to give your outfit that extra character and personality.
Although lapel pins have their place at more formal events like weddings, if you know how to properly style them, there’s no reason they can’t make more regular appearances. They’re the perfect way to give your outfit that striking flair it needs. With this knowledge of lapel pin etiquette behind you, maybe you’ll find the confidence to sport that new lapel pin at work or on at a dinner date.