A flower should mean more
As the story goes, when Prince Albert and Queen Victoria first married, she presented him with flowers as a token of her love. Prince Albert, reciprocating his love back, cut a hole in the lapel of his coat and inserted a single flower. The boutonnière was born. Today’s adaption of the original boutonnière manifests itself as what we know as a lapel flower. Typically made from a twill or wool fabric, this modern accessory mimics the visual aesthetic of the boutonnière, similarly being placed in the lapel’s button hole.
The resurgence of men dressing their best has allowed the lapel flower to occupy a space as a more acceptable everyday accessory. Therein lies the problem. The once seldom worn adornment is today presumed as a badge of dressing well. What was once worn for special or formal occasions to signify love or to celebrate a momentous occasion, now has become just another proverbial cherry on-top of an often poorly put together ensemble.
Don’t get me wrong, just because I’m not a proponent of wearing a lapel flower doesn’t mean it can’t be worn gracefully. Personally, I find lapel flowers are a distraction, similar to the way hot-dog pattern socks or wood beaded bracelets have invaded the landscape of men’s clothing. When a lapel flower is worn on a regularly basis it in fact loses its true elegance and meaning.
It’s not just about what it symbolizes. Unfortunately, I see that most men start off their sartorial journey too often becoming enamored with putting the cart before the horse. I was certainly one of those people early on. Not yet at a level where you’re willing to spend on foundational necessities, wearing a lapel flower becomes a de facto way of easily flaunting their style without having to invest the time or money.
If you’re insistent on wearing a lapel flower, may I suggest looking to icons like singers, Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra? These men were always impeccably dressed and always had the correct occasion to fashion a boutonnière or in this case, a lapel flower. Another icon of the times, who knew how to wear one correctly was Jackie Gleason. A lauded comedian who famously wore a red carnation with his sharply tailored suit, Gleason optimized what it meant to demand the attention of the room even without the aid of something like a lapel flower.
Now don’t misconstrue my opinion; I believe the lapel flower does have a place in a man’s wardrobe, just not as an everyday accessory. I recently read a very interesting quote, it stated “Accessories can be an unnecessary complication or something that ties everything else together”. Simply said, lapel flowers are meant to enhance your look, not overpower it.
What are your thoughts about lapel flowers?
Steven D. Elliott
He Spoke Style