The lapel pin is a classic men’s accessory that’s made a real run-for-it in fashion this season (and we don’t just mean come race day). But, unsure of how to wear a lapel pin, not all gents are prepared to place their bets on the striking suit decoration.
Yes, the wrong pin has the potential to look like a cheap, novelty accessory (but so can certain ties, and we still wear them). In proper use, the pin adds personality to a suit, a garment that’s hard to liven up considering our colour options: navy, grey or black?
Going for a lapel pin also indicates an old-world taste, which is refreshing, considering most men are dead to the timeless qualities of menswear (could I interest you in a pocket watch, old chap?)
From the corporate office to a springtime wedding (and smart casual dinner date on the weekend), we’ve got tips and tricks on how to wear the lapel pin for the modern man. We like those odds.
In This Story…
Lapel Pin Types
Just as there’s a tie for every man’s taste, there’s a lapel pin for every man’s preference. Here are the types of lapel pins you can choose from for your suit. The variations go from material to design to occasion.
The boutonniere is a floral pin and is the most formal option available. Keeping it authentic, you could take a sprig of flower to pop in your buttonhole, securing it with a pin. But then, there’s always the chance that it might wilt throughout the day, leaving your suit looking more drought-stricken garden than spring fresh.
Not into the real deal? Go the material flower option. Made from silk (the best of faux-flower fabrics) this reusable solution won’t limp, nor will it enrage your case of hay fever.
For the contemporary gent, the lapel pin boasts a stem and comes in as much variation as a neck chain, bracelet or ring. Made from metallic materials – gold, copper, silver or matte black , popular designs include feathers, animal heads and geometric shapes. These pins will be fastened with a stick pin attachment.
Harking back to the military, where pins were worn as accolades, badges are adding dots of colour and texture to suit lapels. Like the long-stem pins, they’ve moved on from national flags, stars or shields to more luxury finishes. Much like cufflinks, coming in mother of pearl, onyx and other precious stones.
How To Wear Lapel Pins
- The lapel pin should always be positioned on your left lapel, north of your pocket square (which can be a nice touch in unison with a tie)
- As a general rule, attach your lapel pin (or stick the stem of your boutonniere) through the buttonhole found on your lapel
- If your suit hasn’t got one, pierce the pin straight through the material (the hole won’t remain in suit fabric once the pin is removed provided you use caution when taking it out)
- Alternatively, ask a tailor to sew an inconspicuous thread onto the back of their lapel as the thread will hold the lapel pins in place, without penetrating the fabric
- Position the lapel pin so that it sits at the same angle of your lapel. This particularly important with long-stem pins, where the pin pierces back through the lapel front before fastening
How To Style Lapel Pins
Now that you know how to wear a lapel pin, it’s time for the finishing touch: how to style the lapel pin with your suit.
It’s important to consider the fact that certain occasions demand a certain type of lapel pin. Rocking a rainbow flower lapel pin to a formal black tie event is a big no-no, as is rocking a little Nazi lapel badge to a wedding. Get the right lapel pin and follow these rules to style them right.
Formal Floral Lapel Pins
Going black-tie or formal? The smart tuxedo is only complete with a boutonniere. Take the buttonhole of your peak or shawl lapel and insight the flower stem – opting for a single-bud bloom such as rose (real or silk) if it’s black tie dress code (in red or white colour depending on your dinner jacket). If you’re a groom or wedding guest, play around with coloured roses or a sprig of your belle’s favourite flower. She’ll be impressed.
Bold Contrast Lapel Pins
Feel like going all-out? Go for a bright boutonniere or lapel pin and contrast it against your jacket. The key here is knowing how to colour match your outfit. And then deciding on your route. For a statement, pair primary colours – red, blue and yellow – together and then adapt the tone and shade, desaturated the jacket-red so the yellow and blue boutonniere pop. Keep the shirt neutral, especially if your tie is patterned too.
Tonal Lapel Pins
More the shy kinda guy? Look to tonal colours, matching the jacket colour to your lapel pin, so it’s more a vision of texture than colour division. Analogous colours such as blues and greens (which sit adjacent to each other on the colour wheel) are a unified approach to styling too. Just be sure to add in an anchoring neutral shade – such as white, beige or black – to base-out the colour wash.
Metal Lapel Pins
A simple metal lapel pin makes an interesting addition to a suit during the working week and for a smart dinner date. Be sure to match the pin colour to the other metals in your outfit – watch, belt, cufflink, ring – and then keep unnecessary metals pared back. Do away with a collar bar and tie clip to let the pin speak. Like a tasteful piece of jewellery, the metal pin should be a flash of detail, not a brazen butterfly pinned to your chest.
Layering With Lapel Pins
For a smart casual look that involves layers, a lapel pin (or two) adds texture and dimension to a neutral cotton jacket. Worn open with a neat shirt and tie, the key to multiple accessories is fluidity; a naturally-falling scarf and scrunch-folded pocket square softening the formalities of an angular collar and plumped up tie-knot.
Tie in the metal of your pin with a hue in the scarf and a boutonniere with the floral in your pocket square. Just keep prints on scale, especially when creating contrast and it’s stylishly busy.
Click through the slideshow for some of the best lapel pins to buy right now.