There are many reasons given as to why a buttonhole is placed on the left lapel of the suit jacket. Some say it was first introduced by Prince Albert who cut a hole in his left lapel to display a bouquet given to him by Queen Victoria on their wedding day while others claim suit jackets once had a button on the right lapel which could be pulled across the chest and fastened during cold weather. If you have the time to browse, you could find other suggestions too, but the truth is nobody knows the real reason they’re there, but the buttonholes are now a standard feature of a man’s jacket. And these days the most common use of the buttonhole is to accessorize.

Lapel Pins

Lapel pins generally comprise a long, thin needle that is attached through the buttonhole. To fit one, you need to first remove the stud at the end of the lapel pin and then push the needle through the hole, piercing the inner lapel fabric but being careful not to push so far that you go through the outer fabric. On some high-end or bespoke-made suits, you’ll see a loop in the rear of the lapel. This is placed there to prevent the need to pierce the fabric when fitting a lapel pin. If you regularly wear a lapel pin, you should ask your tailor to fit a loop to protect the fabric.

Boutonnières

If you’ve ever been to a wedding and been handed a flower to attach to your lapel then you have worn a boutonnière. Boutonnières are any flowers that are pinned to your suit and are generally reserved for formal occasions such as weddings or black-tie events. The flower is simply pushed through the lapel buttonhole and fastened with a pin. If you have the loop on the underside you can use that instead of a pin. Fresh flowers are generally preferred but for long-term wear, some people choose faux flowers. These days there are some excellent quality silk flowers available that look just like the real thing but will last for years if taken care of.

Pins and badges

Pins and badges are other accessories that can be attached to your lapel buttonhole. Unlike the long-stem lapel pins, they often fasten using butterfly, rubber, or magnetic clips. Some people like to wear pins or badges which show their affiliation to a particular club or which was presented to them as part of a commendation while others accessorize just for fun or to give themselves a unique style.

Like any other accessory, it’s important to choose pins lapel wear that both complements and enhances the rest of the suit. It’s often a small accessory, but one which has the potential to make or break an outfit. So, be playful and experiment but give as much thought to what you wear on your lapel as you would to any other accessory.

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