The Proper Way to Put on a Boutonniere

Because the last thing you need is anyone getting pricked.

Classic Groom's Boutonniere
Photo: Kelly Ginn Photography

We all encounter boutonnieres at least a few times in our lives, whether at prom, weddings, or other events, so it's probably best to feel equipped if someone passes you one and says, "Can you pin this for me?"

The history of the boutonniere is an unclear one. Some say the trend of wearing flowers started during early English civil wars as a way for men who dressed similarly to distinguish which side they were on. Others believe that on her wedding day in 1840, Queen Victoria presented Prince Albert with a small bouquet of flowers. Apparently, Albert cut a hole in his own jacket and inserted the stems through. However, he wasn't donning flowers in their famous wedding portrait, so that may just be a fable. Still, others believe the history dates to a painting from 1771 of Captain William Wade of Bath, England, donning a flower.

Regardless of where, when, or why the boutonniere originated, we're happy it did. Boutonnieres help take Southern guys' ensembles to the next level and express individual style. The only challenge with them is the actual process of putting them on.

Here are some tips for avoiding any bloodshed during boutonniere pinning.

Boutonniere Etiquette

How to Place It

The boutonniere should always be placed on the left lapel, parallel to the edge outer seam, and right in the middle of the two seams.

Formerly, jackets had a buttonhole on the left lapel solely to drop flower stems in. (Boutonniere is actually French for "buttonhole.") Some jackets don't have those left-lapel buttonholes anymore, but be sure to align the boutonniere in the center of the lapel under the notch in the lapel.

How to Pin It On

Put the pin through the back of the lapel, going away from the man's chest. Some people pin straight down the stem, others diagonally through it.

Regardless of which direction the pin faces, be sure you put it through the thickest part of the stem. This will ensure stability so the flower doesn't fall over or wobble on the pin. If you pin too low on the stem, the weight of the flower will cause it to fall to the side, which will look too sloppy in photographs.

How to Keep It Secure

Additional pins can be added for extra security and stability, especially if your boutonniere is large or top-heavy. Whether you pinned diagonally or vertically, put the second pin below the first, going in the same direction—always away from the man's chest.

How to Hide the Ends

After the pin is successfully through the boutonniere stem, be sure to bring it back through the lapel fabric so that the tip of the pin is behind the lapel—and all the way behind. Be sure the pin doesn't peek out from the side of the lapel, where it could poke someone receiving a hug or even a dance partner. All that to say: Both ends of the pin should be behind the fabric of the lapel so that only the boutonniere is seen on the front.

With these tips and careful execution, you should feel confident answering "Yes!" the next time someone asks if you can pin on their boutonniere. You might even have groomsmen and prom-goers lined up for your precise skills.

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