The Lapel Flower: My Honest Opinion

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?

Stylishly Yours,

Steven D. Elliott
He Spoke Style


Chime In

  • jeannine520

    I love them worn on festive occasions. It’s always looked like a sign that someone has shown up ready to celebrate and have fun. Worn as a daily accessory, I think it looks kitschy, costume-like. I don’t know why but it never comes off as part of personal style when it’s worn at work. It looks like a trendy adoption of an accessory and attention seeking. I feel the same way about men’s scarves all wrapped around their necks without a coat. I live in Ca and I see guys wearing a 3 season suit jacket with a pair of super tight jeans, no overcoat yet wearing a mass of scarf like a goodyear tire around the neck. Really that cold, eh? The flower is in the same category for me.

  • Forrest Howe

    One misses many compliments by not wearing a delicate boutonnière. The ones I see in this article are way too large. Bordering on clown squirting flowers. Mr Gleason’s carnation works for him as he is a large man. One does not want the boutonnière to be the center of attention. Might I suggest reading the “Gentleman’s Gazette” articles and videos as to how to wear one properly.

  • RJ Giddings

    Typically yes- it’s just about 10% too much. Distracting. I did wear one at a few weddings…once as the groom, and a few times as a groomsman. Thats it.

  • TJ

    Agreed. I think it’s something to be used sparingly.

  • Eric White

    yeah… its indeed the best part of wearing the suite… something we are missing today… I do wear couple of times… ;)

  • hitesh rai

    Hi your bolg is really good and its very helpful to be in fashion

  • Anthony Thomas

    Amazing post


  • Sven Raphael Schneider

    I think it is a matter of personal style. I like to wear boutonnieres regularly, not all the time though. It is a mood thing. When I wear one, I get compliments the minute I walk out the door…