Adding a lapel pin to any suit can be an easy and cost-effective way to customise your attire to your own personal style. Lapel pins, sometimes referred to as suit pins, are not designed to be distracting but are there to add a subtle air of ‘dapper’ to what should already be a well-fitting and stylish suit.Read more Men’s Style Guide features and check out our Store. There has been a resurgence of the ‘old world’ look when it comes to men’s suits and consequently vintage suit accessories, often worn with a contemporary twist, have made their way back into the sphere of popular fashion. There is definitely a fine line between understated enhancement and novelty clutter when it comes to accessorizing your suit and, when worn correctly, the lapel pin will always ensure that your suit becomes the focus of many a compliment. This handy guide from Idle HQ will give all the tips and guidelines that you will need when choosing to wear the classic lapel pin.
What Is a Lapel Pin?
Before we delve into the purpose, design, and practicalities of wearing pins for suits, let’s firstly discuss what a lapel pin actually is. We begin with the lapel itself which is the edged part on each side of your suit jacket immediately below the collar which is folded back on either side of the front opening by your chest pocket.
A lapel pin is a small pin worn on the lapel of a jacket. Lapel pins are predominantly decorative and have no distinct purpose, but in some instances can indicate the wearer’s affiliation with an organization or cause. Suit lapel pins come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be fastened to the suit jacket in a number of ways. The backside of a lapel pin, the part where it is fastened, can be just as important as the front. Not only for practical reasons as this is how the pin is held in place, but also because it can be another way to customize the pin to make it more unique.
Here are some examples of the most popular attachments:
- Stick Pin: This is the most common attachment used in contemporary pins for suits and will create the vintage look that many are hoping to achieve. A stick pin has a thin needle with a collar that slides up and down the needle to secure or release the pin.
- Military/ Butterfly Clutch: This is often used on smaller pins. The back of the pin has a sharp point attached to it and when the butterfly clutch is squeezed the pin is released from the clutch.
- Magnetic Clasp: Pretty self-explanatory really but this uses two small disc magnets in the back of the pin and the corresponding attachment to hold the pin in place. Although this is often not considered as the most effective way to secure the pin, it does prevent any holes from being made in the material.
- Screw and Nut: This is not as widely used as the attachments mentioned above but is considered to be one of the most secure. The point is threaded so that the nut screws into place to hold the pin firmly.
Different Types of Lapel Pin
From novelty pins to religious lapel pins to graduation pins to army lapel pins, when it comes to picking out your lapel, it’s important to consider color and style, while also remaining individual.
Have a look in vintage or antique stores for something a bit different. I found a really nice silver shooting pin in a vintage store in Exeter last year which looks great on a jacket.
– Marcus Jaye, The Chic Geek
A boutonnière is a lapel pin made with a living flower and before the popularity of wearing lapel pins, boutonnières were often worn. A boutonnière should be worn pushed through the lapel buttonhole (always on the left hand side – the side of your heart. How romantic!) The stem should be at a slight angle so it is running parallel to the edge of the lapel and should be secured from behind with a pin. Push the pin, facing down, through the back of the lapel and through the thickest part of the stem of the boutonnière. Try to avoid any of the metal from the pin showing. In pricier suits, there is often a loop at the back of the lapel to secure the boutonnière as continued pinning could eventually damage the expensive cloth or silk facing
Floral Lapel Pin
Usually smaller than a traditional boutonnière, the floral lapel pin is an artificial equivalent of the ‘live’ flower used in a boutonnière. Common flower pin materials include: felt, linen, cotton, paper, silk, and satin. The use of a lapel flower should be to add an overall elegance of your ensemble, not to add shock factor – keep colour and size to a suitable minimum. The floral lapel pin is considered slightly less formal than the boutonnière and is designed to add personality to your suit as they often come in an amazing array of colours and patterns. The floral lapel pin should keep in proportion to the rest of your outfit – you don’t want it to look like it’s about to squirt water in the faces of unsuspecting passers-by – and you don’t want it to avert all the attention away from your dashing suit.
This type of lapel pin, often called an ‘enamel pin’, is often very small and subtle as the wearer wants to avoid it looking too much like a brooch. As this type of pin is usually less intrusive on the lapels you can afford to be a little more playful when looking for options. This is also the type of suit pin used in the military, political movements, and for charity campaigns.
Vintage Lapel Pins
If you’re after something with a bit more character, which not go for a vintage pin? These can be found through your Grandparents, surprisingly at charity
Long-Stem Lapel Pins
This is the popular contemporary option and is usually made with metallic materials in gold, copper, silver or black. Popular designs include feathers, arrows, and geometric shapes. These pins will be fastened with a stick pin attachment.
Custom Lapel Pins: Personalised Pins
The great thing about lapel pins is that they can be personal and reflect you. If you don’t find one you like, or are after something for that special event, then why not opt for a custom made lapel pin? You can create your own via online sites. It’s a great personal gift. You can go for custom metal pins or whichever material takes your fancy.
If a lapel pin isn’t for you, you can go for something a little different and go for a collar pin. These attach to your collar just above the point. They add a new flair to your look.
Where to Wear a Lapel Pin: Lapel Pin Placement
There are a few rules to follow to avoid any ‘school boy’ errors when sporting one of these fetching accessories and because suit lapel pins come in such a variety of shapes and sizes there are appropriate, and also rather inappropriate, moments to wear them.
With a Tuxedo
Firstly, when should you wear a tuxedo? You should whack out the tux when the invitation states ‘Formal’ or ‘Black Tie’ usually at a ball or a formal dance, or a formal dinner party or reception. The Lapels on a tuxedo should be peaked but a shawl collar is equally acceptable and the left lapel should have a working buttonhole so that a boutonnière may be worn. The flower should always be a single blossom and is preferably in white or red.
This is another example of where the boutonnière comes into fruition. The most traditional flower to use is often a carnation, of which the most formal is white but other colours and flowers may also be chosen to better coordinate with whatever else is being worn. Modern-day alternatives to the carnation are becoming increasingly popular for gents to wear at weddings with thistles (particularly for Scottish weddings), lavender, roses, and sunflowers all being incorporated.