Boutonniere Guide

Boutonniere & Lapel Flower Pin Guide

Last week, we explored the history of the buttonhole and debunked the myth about how it came into existence. Today, we want to look at different varieties of boutonniere flowers, including silk boutonnieres, and provide you with some pictures of modern day men wearing a flower in their buttonhole, and give you a few tips for wedding boutonnieres.

Boutonniere Today

White Orchid Boutonniere

White Orchid Boutonniere

Nowadays, it goes without saying that there are hardly any men who wear a boutonniere on a daily basis. Most of the time, the little buttonhole flower is reserved for special occasions and celebrations like weddings, horse races, elegant banquets and so forth. For fairness sake, it must be mentioned that, even in the 1940’s, not many men wore a boutonniere daily, although in London, there were several flower merchants, such as Moyses Stevens, who sold ready-made boutonnieres rather successfully. These days are long gone, and as a consequence, you would have to make a specific arrangement with your local florist if you wished to wear one every day.

Oscar Wilde Boutonniere

Oscar Wilde Boutonniere

Personally, I try to wear a boutonniere whenever I have a flower available. While well-crafted boutonnieres are meticulously put together, wrapped, and so on, a simple flower with a stem will do just fine if you have a functional buttonhole and a backside boutonniere loop on your lapel. During the summer, you find great selections of little flowers at florists and farmers markets alike. A while ago, I posted an outfit with a yellow carnation buttonhole that I just found coincidentally. While most high quality coats feature a working lapel buttonhole nowadays, you may find yourself with one that is sewn shut. Considering the highly visible position of the buttonhole, it may be better to err on the side of caution and have your alterations tailor open it for you, rather than doing it yourself.

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor attend a Dinner Party, Waldorf Towers

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor attend a Dinner Party, Waldorf Towers

Some may wonder why they simply can’t pin it on their lapel; however, pinned-on flowers look awkward due to the size and bulk of a completely exposed flower. In addition, these pins often break, pull threads loose, poke the wearer, or allow the flower to flop loosely (and unattractively) on the jacket. I know many grooms nowadays wear calla lilies – which are way too large – or other arrangements with large leaves, once again adding unnecessary weight and bulk to the lapel. I always feel sorry for them, especially when they’ve had no say in the choice of flower. In general, men’s fashion has always been rather functional.

Prince Charles Boutonniere Fob Watch Chain Ring

Prince Charles Boutonniere Fob Watch Chain Ring

Just think of the surgeon cuffs that can be unbuttoned; the boutonniere buttonhole exists for a reason. Of course, the choice is up to you, but with regard to dress culture, a pinned-on flower does not make any sense if there is an available buttonhole in the lapel. Interestingly, even the best ready-to-wear garments rarely feature a boutonniere loop on the backside of the lapel. Therefore, we created an illustrated guide that teaches you how to make a boutonniere loop yourself in about 15 minutes! Alternatively, your alterations tailor will be able to help you. Just print one of the pictures and bring it along – chances are they may not know what you are talking about otherwise.

Prepared Boutonniere in Loop

Prepared Boutonniere in Loop

However, in case you are the best man and everybody wears a miniature bouquet pinned on their lapel, go with the flow – it is the bride and groom’s day, not yours and you should do everything in your power not to draw attention away from them by arguing about the boutonniere. If you happen to be the groom, getting involved with the flower planning will allow your opinions to be heard.

Boutonniere Flowers

Most of the time, you can see carnations, roses, or cornflowers used. However, there are a number of other flowers that are worth considering in my opinion, as long as the flower size can be considered. Super-sized blooms, in combination with a pocket square on the same side, might make your outfit look hopelessly overloaded. Therefore, I strongly suggest you go with smaller flowers. However, before we explore more exotic boutonniere options, let’s start with a classic: the carnation.


Duke of Windsor And Wallis Simpson Wedding Boutonniere

Duke of Windsor And Wallis Simpson Wedding Boutonniere

The carnation – especially in red or white – has definitely been one of the most popular flowers. If available, a white carnation is probably one of the most classic wedding boutonnieres ever, even though modern flower arranging often shies away from this inexpensive choice. In the past, however, it does not come as a surprise that the Duke of Windsor – one of the style icons of the century – wore a white carnation in his buttonhole on 3rd June 1937 when he married Wallis Simpson at the Château de Condé in France. The Duke was not afraid of making a statement, and, as you can see, the carnation was remarkably huge. As I mentioned before, I would always opt for a smaller one. Since others thought exactly the same, the Malmaison carnation was born.

Malmaison Carnation

Originally, the Malmaison carnation evolved in the mid 19th century. Its two main characteristics were the strong scent of cloves, as well as a shape that reminds me a little bit of a cauliflower. In the 1950’s, the term Malmaison carnation indicated this certain style of carnation. Actually, it consisted of the petals of usually three carnations that were put together in a condensed manner and would make for a nice shape. Obviously, the advantage of this method was the sizing. A boutonniere could now be adapted to the wearer and huge carnations could be made into smaller, more elegant looking boutonnieres.

Other Flowers

Personally, I like the look of a white azalea flower with two or three little green leaves in the buttonhole, in addition to little spray roses in red or white. The simple, but sharp looking daisy with its yellow and white colors goes very well together with a navy jacket or suit. In fall and winter, some enjoy wearing certain kinds of berries like the green ivy berry. For weddings, you should always consider the lily-of the valley or a white orchid. Here you can find a selection of handmade silk boutonnieres that you can wear over an over again.

On my wedding day, I chose an orchid for my morning coat, even though there were no other orchids present in our flower arrangements. In addition, I chose spray roses for my tailcoat dress suit, which actually matched some of the colors in my wife’s wedding bouquet. We thought that was a very subtle, yet elegant way to underline the bond between us on our day, while allowing me some stylistic freedom to deviate from using exactly the same blooms used elsewhere. Both flowers would have been also been a perfect choice on any other wedding suit, including the stroller / Stresemann suit.

Green Leaves or a Simple Flower?

Sometimes, you will read that you should only bear one flower in your lapel and nothing else. While it is certainly unadvisable to wear a whole bouquet on your lapel, it is perfectly acceptable to show a little bit of green – especially if the boutonniere remains small. The contrast of the flowers and the leaves looks very nice indeed and that’s the essence of a boutonniere: being able to express yourself in an aesthetically pleasing manner! So, if it looks good with a leaf, go for it and do not worry about it. Also, bear in mind that, historically, many men have always worn some form of green with their lapel flower.

Silk- or Knit Boutonnieres

You may not always have a florist around, or it would be simply to inconvenient to take care of a boutonniere at the given moment. For these occasions, you may want to consider an artificial boutonniere. Often times, they are called silk boutonnieres, although only very few are actually made out of silk. It is important that it looks realistic, and while most look fake, we created extremely realistic boutonniere flowers. The advantage is that you can wear it all the time, including on travels or when no flower store is around. They are so much more convenient and if they are well-made, they look like the real thing and it will last you for years without ever wilting.

Hercule Poirot with Boutonniere Vase

Hercule Poirot with Boutonniere Vase

Moreover, you will sometimes see knit boutonnieres which may look good with more informal country attire. These are just a substitute for the real thing and obviously look fake, but at the end of the day you have to decide whether it pleases your taste or not.

Boutonniere Vases

In Victorian and Edwardian times, boutonniere vases – sometimes ornately decorated – were one way to express one’s superior status. Agatha Christie’s most recent Hercule Poirot, personified by David Suchet, is set in the 1930’s and shows Poirot wearing boutonniere vases on a regular basis. Not only do they look handsome, but also they keep your little flowers fresh, which is particularly important when wearing a delicate flower.

Boutonniere Buttonhole Vase

Boutonniere Buttonhole Vase

Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to find such lapel vases nowadays, and if you do, they come in mostly one style or you must spend a small fortune on vintage sterling silver buttonhole vases. Some of them are designed to be worn in the front, others are supposed to be kept behind the lapel. In any case it is a very unique and elegant accessory, if not truly necessary.

What Boutonniere Should You Wear?

In short, go for an authentic looking, smaller flower that does not overload your coat. Real roses last rather long, but even they wilt. If you don’t want think about where to get flowers and how, you should take a look at the silk boutonnieres I designed. They look just like the real thing, yet they will never wilt, and you can wear them over and over again, without wasting your time in getting them.

Lily of the Valley Bouttoniere

Lily of the Valley Boutonniere

The Wedding And The Boutonniere

For weddings, white is probably the number one color. As we mentioned before, classic boutonnieres would be lilies of the valley, a carnation or one to two little spray roses. All of these should last and look fresh throughout the day. Personally, I think it can look good if the same kind of flower is part of the bride’s bouquet, although it should not look too matchy overall. As with all boutonnieres, try to avoid the pin-on flowers and make sure to let your florist know what you want, including the amount of greenery. Traditionally, the groom wears a different boutonniere than the rest of the wedding party. So, if the groom wears white spray roses, then the wedding party could wear red spray roses. Just in case something happens with a boutonniere, it pays to have a backup one. Considering the low cost of $6 to $10, this is a wise investment because a groom without a boutonniere simply does not look right – even today! A friend of mine recently celebrated his wedding in England, and since he got married in a remote place without a flower store in the area, he decided on flower delivery. He was very happy with the boutonniere sized carnations he received. In case you want to learn more about the boutonniere, I can only recommend Umberto Angeloni’s book: Boutonniere -Style in One’s Lapel.

The majority of the pictures were sourced from random places across the internet and hence it was impossible to figure out the original source.
Boutonniere & Lapel Flower Pin Guide
Article Name
Boutonniere & Lapel Flower Pin Guide
Learn all you need to know about Boutonniere & Lapel Flower Pins, vases, how to wear them and where to buy them.
Gentleman's Gazette
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29 replies
  1. Mrs Bainbridge says:

    Lapel Vase. Browsing through information on Poirot, it was mentioned that lapel vases are hard to source, I recently found a supplier and thought you might be interested – – they do tie-tac pins and magnetic vase brooches.

    Spats – hopefully, somebody may be able to help – trying to source spats, type worn by Poirot or by Ian Carmichael in his role as Lord Peter Wimsey.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] thread added behind the lapel to hold the flower in place.  A more fussy alternative is a minature boutonniere holder, a small metal vial that clips onto the back of the lapel and provides water to keep the flower […]

  2. […] the white suit is making a comeback – with narrow lapels, boldly striped shirts and petite boutonnieres.White Summer Suit with BoutonniereTuxedo Ralph Lauren SS 2011Glencheck Tie Chalk Stripe SuitRalph […]

  3. […] with less pronounced shoulders, side vents  and less drape. It lacks a lapel buttonhole for a boutonniere, and it also features machine contrast stitching along the edges as opposed to fine, almost […]

  4. […] accessorized with colorful silk pocket squares, knit ties, collar pins, scarves, or ascots. For a boutonniere, he favors a large white carnation. If he’s not wearing one, a jacket or sportscoat is never far […]

  5. […] piqué front or a fly front if no studs are availableBlack silk bow tie – matching the lapelA boutonniere in the lapel – a highly overlooked but great finishing detailBlack over-the-calf socks made of […]

  6. […] a brown snap brim hat, and reverse calf leather shoes. Instead of the pocket square, he went with a boutonniere that appears to be a carnation.On top of that, he carries a wonderful plaid overcoat. I am […]

  7. […] stripe. On top of that, he tries to wear a bold plaid and a paisley tie and something red in his boutonniere. Although the color palette is not overwhelming, it just looks confusing. A plain overcoat would […]

  8. […] the wide-spaced colored stripe. The red stripes inspired the rest of his dress, choosing a red boutonniere and Bordeaux tie. This three-piece flannel suit with stripes benefits from the peaked lapels, which […]

  9. […] New Years Eve is the perfect opportunity to wear it – and don’t forget to put a boutonniere through the buttonhole on your lapel.Please share your new years outfit pictures with us, no matter […]

  10. […] lapels. Despite the prominent buttonholes in either side of the lapel, he chose not to wear a boutonniere. His white shirt had a turndown collar and seemed to have two lightly colored studs, while his bow […]

  11. […] tie ensemble. In keeping with his fastidiousness, Poirot often chooses to wear a lapel vase with a boutonniere.Poirot In IstanbulConclusionOverall, Mr. Poirot is always dressed extremely neatly, but he is […]

  12. […] – it could have been me.”Paired with his eccentric manners, patent leather boots, boutonniere and his splendid clothes, his neatly waxed and combed mustache, pink nose, and his Homburg hat are […]

  13. […] with a 3 roll 2 button placement. It is combined with an olive green shirt, green-red tie, yellow boutonniere and green pocket square. Nowadays it is quite difficult to find such a shirt fabric.The Harris Spun […]

  14. […] rather flamboyant shoe & sock combination.On occasion, Ignatious Joseph wears brightly colored boutonnieres and in the summer, he is also a fan of the Panama hat from Borsalino – see our exclusive […]

  15. […] his left lapel, he often proudly wears a huge red carnationNucky Thompson Ulster Overcoat In Camelboutonniere. His yellow striped shirt has a detachable stiff collar in white, which is paired with a bold […]

  16. […] have noticed there is no outer chest pocket on this coat, but in town you can set an accent with a boutonniere – in this case a deep red carnation.Stroller SuitThe chap to his right wears a stroller suit with […]

  17. […] kept in place by a tie stick pin. In his breast pocket, he wore a white pocket square and for his boutonniere, he chose the classic lily of the valley. He wore black oxford shoes, and strangely, he chose to […]

  18. […] über Boutonnieres erfahren möchten kann ich Ihnen nur unseren englischen Artikel über das Boutonniere ans Herz legen. Dieser ist nicht nur ausführlicher und reichlich bebildert, sondern auch weiaus […]

  19. […] Below, you see me in a mid grey fresco suit which I presented to you a couple of months ago with a boutonniere. Fresco Suit Mid […]

  20. […] With regard to the waistcoat, buff is fine but pearl grey a good classic alternative. In general, I think it is important that you like the look and feel comfortable in it. Do not worry about what certain books say. Of course, you can wear a silver-grey necktie with a white shirt and a lily of the valley in your buttonhole. But if you like the light blue with a white contrast collar and a yellow tie, go for it. Just bear in mind, it is the day of your bride and you. You celebrate the commitment to each other – that’s what it is all about. Especially in the US, is sometimes seems like the day is entirely about the bride. While I agree that she is the main character, but you will both be equally represented in the photos. What colors does she wear, what colors does her bouquet have? Maybe you want to match your socks, waistcoat or boutonniere. […]

  21. […] In the evening, one could easily pull off a white dinner jacket with shawl collar and red boutonniere. […]

  22. […] one can observe that regularly. His shiny black shoes are perfectly fine, as is his tie knot. The boutonniere is gigantic, but given the width of the lapel in it is not obnoxious in size. His shirt seems to be […]

  23. […] tie in a narrow bar shape. It is topped off with a green felt hat, and clove red carnation boutonniere (also known as a buttonhole), as well as calf leather monk strap shoes. With regard to the […]

  24. […] collared shirt, patent leather oxfords, a black Homburg hat, a navy blue Paletot and a colored boutonniere, the outfit was perfect. Today, you can combine your shawl collar tuxedo jacket with a turndown […]

  25. […] I like to wear a boutonniere with my outfits – especially when it is warm outside and the sun is shining. Sometimes these […]

  26. […] we wrote an article about boutonnieres and lapel vases. In order to wear these two accessories, a jacket needs a boutonniere loop on the […]

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    […] a white shirt, a silver tie, a white pocket square, a ring on his left pinky finger, a blue boutonniere (also known as buttonhole), black shoes and a Homburg hat. Of course, he carries an umbrella as […]

  28. […] the past,we covered the boutonniere and lapel vases in addition to a guide on how to make a boutonniere loop yourself. Recently, I came […]

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