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How To Wear A Lapel Flower or Boutonniere

Rishi Chullani from The Dark Knot wrote us this detailed guest post. His insight on lapel flowers will help you wear them with confidence. Enjoy.

I get it. You’re looking for that extra edge. That decisive difference that truly sets you apart from your sartorially inclined contemporaries. An item that will have you looking ravishing, with people doing double takes just to process what their eyes have been subject to. True dapper-dom. Yes, that’s a word. And I just invented it. It’s not an alternative fact. It’s here to stay. Except, there’s a slight problem. What if the decisive item in your wardrobe feels effeminate? It’s fine. We can all dress dapper while appealing to our inner, effeminate sensitivities. Sure, it may take a certain level of awareness. But once you’re there, your wardrobe suddenly becomes open to a whole new range of possibilities. Cue the lapel flower.

A lapel flower, also commonly known as a boutonniere, is a great way to add spice and flair to your ensemble, all while adding an item that is still considered relatively unique. Sure, it may be making a renaissance appearance, but I do believe it is here to stay.  While a lapel flower and boutonniere are used interchangeably, there are considerable differences that set the two items apart. With that said, here is our guide to wearing a lapel flower or boutonniere.

Fabric Lapel Flower

Fabric Lapel Flower / Pin – A floral pin or artificial lapel flower provides significantly more durability than a boutonniere (please read below for more details), given that you are not working with a living flower. An artificial lapel flower is a fantastic way to garnish your suits. A boutonniere (as mentioned below), signifies a real flower that should be used sparingly according to the type of occasion that you are dressing for.

Occasions For Wearing A Fabric Lapel Flower

When strutting a full suit with a tie, a lapel flower should be used in conjunction for more formal events such as a wedding or graduation party. However, lapel flowers have also become a preferred accessory for men who like to dress dapper casual with a blazer and shirt. With this combination, a lapel flower, or a lapel flower paired with a pocket square are excellent choices for garnishing that smart and dapper look!


A Lapel Flower can be a fantastic way to garnish a casual-dapper ensemble! Courtesy of The Dark Knot

Proportions For Wearing A Fabric Lapel Flower

While choosing proportions is much harder with a boutonniere, aligning your fabric lapel flower with your body and jacket proportions is of critical importance. Just as you would exercise discretion when choosing your tie width based on your body type and jacket lapel width, so should you with your lapel flowers. Figuring out your lapel width measurements at your widest point and comparing that to the diameter of your potential fabric lapel flowers is the best way to decide if it will be oversize or not. Simply using an eye test will deceive the naked eye and may have you strutting a lapel flower that is either over or undersized.

Color Considerations

Similar to matching tie or pocket square colors to your suits, and shirts, a lapel flower should complement the rest of your ensemble. Using a color wheel, you can use several color schemes, depending on how bold a look you are going for!

While ensuring that your lapel flower is coordinated with the rest of your ensemble is critical, it is equally important to ensure that the rest of your outfit is well put together and on point!


Courtesy of Classic Shades

As you can see from the color wheel above, colors are largely divided into two camps: warm colors (red, orange and yellow) and cooler colors (blue, purple and green). A color wheel helps us discern which color schemes work by either pairing warm or cool colors together (similar color schemes) or by pairing a warm color against a cooler color (complementary or triadic color schemes), which are generally much bolder schemes. Both combinations can look dapper – it’s a matter of whether you want a more muted look or a more striking, bold combination!

Monochromatic Color Scheme

The easiest way to start experimenting with color and also the most conservative color scheme, a monochromatic sequence allows you to look dapper without opting for the bold move. This sequence involves choosing colors that are on the same spoke of the color wheel, i.e., darker or lighter variants of the same color. An example of this would be a navy lapel flower complementing a royal blue tie or pocket square (or vice versa)! However, if this is the case, ensure that your suit jacket is not navy as it will wash out the color of your lapel flower!


A monochromatic scheme is a safe way to look dapper in any setting! Here, a lighter blue lapel flower perfectly complements a navy skinny silk tie! Courtesy of The Dark Knot

Neutral Color Scheme

A color combination that involves earthly or neutral tones such as brown, grey and cream that will complement virtually any color sequence with your suit, shirt, ties and /or pocket squares! A Neutral color scheme is perfect if you are looking to dress dapper without having to make too much of a fuss about choosing the right color balance.


Neutral color schemes infuse your ensemble with earth tones, creating a relaxed, yet dapper vibe! Here we have a cream lapel flower garnishing an exquisite pink linen suit! Courtesy of The Dark Knot

Similar Color Scheme

The next progression in your sartorial journey, a similar color scheme employs adjacent colors on a color wheel to create a look that feels familiar. Examples include a green lapel flower with a blue or navy tie or a lilac lapel flower with a pink tie. Either way, we are choosing colors that are close to each other on the color wheel, and hence not creating any significant level of contrast. A similar color scheme is a fantastic way to step into sartorial land without feeling like you are significantly overstepping your style boundaries.


A similar color scheme employs colors adjacent on the color wheel, thereby either wearing cool or warm colors simultaneously, creating a sense of familiarity! Here we have a turquoise lapel flower perfectly complementing an exquisite navy foulard silk tie! Courtesy of The Dark Knot

Triadic Color Scheme

Now we are stepping into bold territory! A triadic color scheme involves colors that form a triangle within a color wheel. Hence, we are employing warm colors against cooler colors. Combinations include a pink lapel flower with a blue tie or a purple lapel flower against an olive or mint green tie! Due to the striking difference between warm and cool colors, these schemes provide significant flair and pop, as opposed to the more muted color schemes discussed above.


A triadic color scheme utilizes warmer colors against cooler colors, creating a true sense of contrast and a true dapper statement! Here we have a gorgeous pink, and white lapel flower set perfectly against a blue, and pink polka dotted skinny silk tie. Courtesy of The Dark Knot

Complementary Color Scheme

The boldest of the color schemes, a complementary color sequence pairs colors on the color wheel that are diametrically across each other – hence creating the strongest contrast between warm and cool colors. Hence, blue and orange work well together, as do purple and yellow, and pink and green. A complementary color scheme is for those of you that have fully embraced color mixing and matching, and are ready to take your sartorial flair to another stratosphere!


A complementary color scheme pairs two colors that are diametrically opposed to each other in the color wheel, creating the strongest contrast of warmer and cooler colors. Here, we have a light pink (a lighter variant of red) perfectly complementing a darker green knitted tie! Courtesy of The Dark Knot

Not employing a color scheme

If you would like to accessorize your suit or jacket with a lapel flower, without being concerned about color coordination, a white fabric lapel flower is your best choice! With an ability to complement virtually any color across the spectrum, a white lapel flower will ensure you are dressed to the nines without causing you much concern!


Looking to dress exquisitely without being overly concerned about color coordination? A White Lapel Flower is the way to go! Courtesy of The Dark Knot

How To Wear A Fabric Lapel Flower

The wearing of a lapel flower should be exercised with a certain level of caution. When wearing a fabric lapel flower, you have three options:

Option 1

Insert the lapel flower pin through your lapel buttonhole, and tape it across the back of your lapel, keeping the flower firmly in place.

Option 2

Insert the lapel flower pin through your lapel buttonhole, through the front side of the lapel by puncturing your suit fabric, and fastening the lapel pin. This is considered a stylish statement by some but is tampering with the front of your jacket lapel.

Option 3

Insert the lapel flower pin through your lapel buttonhole, through the back side of the lapel by puncturing your suit fabric. I think this is the best option as it keeps the lapel flower firmly in place, while slightly tampering with the back of the suit lapel, which is out of sight.

Boutonnieres

While a fabric or artificial lapel flower can be worn across a range of functions with your suits, real flowers, also known as boutonnieres, are best suited for specific occasions. Boutonnieres exude a certain level of debonair that simply cannot be matched by a fabric lapel flower.

Certain flowers carry connotations of certain moods, and so choosing a boutonniere with a certain level of discernment will go a long way towards dressing appropriately the next time you want to elevate your style game.

Flowers like a rose are generally safe as they are a well accepted, even romantic flower.


Courtesy of Inside Weddings

Other flowers, such as poppy, have sadder connotations associated with war, and should, therefore, be used on days of remembrance.


Courtesy of Etsy

Carnations and Lilies, on the other hand, are flowers that are joyful.  


Courtesy of Pinterest

The cultural connotations of the flower or boutonniere that you are planning to wear should be known ahead of time so that you don’t inadvertently offend someone. If you are looking to play it conservative, a white boutonniere is generally your safest bet (barring events like Remembrance or Veteran’s days, where poppies are suggested). Just as with a fabric lapel flower, you will look most dapper if your boutonniere is accenting the colors in your suit, shirt, tie and / or pocket square, as opposed to merely matching them.

And that’s a wrap for this one. I hope that you have enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it!

Thank You, Rishi

This guest post was written by Rishi Chullani. Rishi decided to take on entrepreneurial flair in the fashion world after 10 years in the corporate realm. Originally from Hong Kong and having lived in the US for 10 years, his broad travel and life experiences have provided him with depth in perspective that has contributed to his men’s accessories and style platform The Dark Knot. Rishi’s goal is to help gentlemen dress better, and he believes his vision is wholeheartedly reflected through his e-commerce site and blog.