As a sign of membership, allegiance or even a badge of pride, lapel pins are an alternative to flowers. If you’re looking to wear one of this to show a bit of personality or a splash of visual interest, they’re an interesting option.
So where and how should you properly wear a lapel pin with a suit? In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about lapel pins as we cover the following:
- What Is A Lapel Pin?
- How & When To Wear Lapel Pins
- Different Types Of Lapel Pins
- Best Lapel Pin Brands
Simply hit the link above to jump to the subject that interests you the most. Alternatively, scroll down to read it all.
See All Our Suits Content!
What Is A Lapel Pin?
A lapel pin is a decorative trinket of some kind that men wear on the lapel of a suit jacket, sport coat, or blazer. Historically, men have worn boutonnieres in their lapels, and lapel pins are a more modern substitute for them.
Lapel pins have seen a resurgence in popularity in the last 15 years or so. They are a way to show membership in social clubs, professional organizations, or to simply add visual interest to a tailored ensemble.
Furthermore, many accolades offer lapel pin versions that you can wear when a medal is a little too much. For instance, the Légion d’honneur in France is often presented as a discrete red rosette that’s worn on the lapel.
Lapel pins serve a few different purposes, mostly to show membership in elite social organizations, professional achievement, or patriotism, particularly in the case of American politicians.
They may also indicate an area of interest for the wearer; for example, a tennis aficionado may wear a lapel pin showing tennis rackets, or a musician may wear one depicting musical notation.
Meanwhile, we’ve become much more open and quite proud of our geeky tendencies. Therefore, lapel pins may be used to declare our fandom for a particular popular culture.
How To Wear A Lapel Pin With A Suit
Lapel pins are easy to wear and you just have to keep in mind a few aesthetic guidelines.
Firstly, if it’s made of a precious metal such as silver or gold, make sure it matches the other hardware you wear like cufflinks and belts.
Similarly, try to coordinate a somewhat colourful pin with other accessories like a pocket square, tie, shirt, socks, or jacket. However, if you need some help coordinating colours, our guide to colour is a great resource to dig through.
You can wear a lapel pin most times you’d wear a suit or something less formal, such as a sport coat. The only times we suggest not wearing a lapel pin is when you’re at either a funeral or a job interview. In both of these cases, your goal is to minimize any way you could be perceived as ostentatious.
That being said, you can wear a lapel pin to a job interview if it’s relevant. For instance, if your lapel pin is to indicate an award or qualification that you may want to highlight during your interview, you may be forgiven for such brashness.
The photo above features a Soviet Russian badge depicting Vladimir Lenin. Indeed, the pin was chosen not due to political beliefs but because it matched the bow tie and the coat’s hardware, which incidentally consists of French First World War military brass buttons.
However, it may have easily been interpreted as a political statement and even have caused offence. Fortunately, the wearer was a historian at the time so it was more of a talking piece than a cause of controversy.
If you decide to wear a lapel pin in a professional or formal setting, it’s important to remain respectful and tasteful. In some environments, publicly expressing political or religious beliefs may be regarded as a faux pas.
Such a gesture shouldn’t be just extended towards your clients and superiors but also your colleagues and anyone nearby.
Similarly, some lapel pins sporting icons of popular culture are quite large and brash. Therefore, they may be best avoided with a suit, especially if you want to appear as professional as possible.
However, taking care of the statements that you openly wear on your chest isn’t being overly politically correct or infringing on your rights of free speech. Instead, it’s best considered as a gentlemanly gesture of common courtesy.
Correct Lapel Pin Placement
You’d be amazed at how often lapel pins get put in the wrong place! However, it’s usually because nobody explicitly told the wearer where and how to wear the lapel pin.
Therefore, here are some guidelines on where to place a lapel pin:
- Lapel pins always go on the left lapel
- The pin is the reason for the lapel’s buttonhole. Put your lapel pin in your buttonhole. This is much easier if that hole is functional, and any tailor can make this happen for you in a matter of seconds. However, you can easily pierce the hole if the pin is sharp.
- As an exception to rule number two, place your pin just inside the buttonhole if you’re already wearing a lapel flower in your buttonhole (see picture above for example).
- Some lapels will have a small loop of fabric on their underside just beneath the buttonhole. This loop’s purpose is to hold the stem of a long-stem lapel pin in place so that you don’t have to poke it through the lapel itself. It’s also there to hold a flower’s stem, but we’ll discuss that in more depth on our page on boutonnières.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave us a comment below!
How To Wear A Lapel Pin With A Pocket Square
While there are no rules regarding pocket squares and lapel pins, it’s always smart to have them be colour coordinated to some degree. As with all things menswear-related, you don’t want things to look matchy-matchy.
If your pocket square is white with blue trim, don’t wear a lapel pin that’s also white with blue trim. If your handkerchief is yellow, don’t wear a yellow lapel pin.
You have a license to be creative, so take advantage!
If you’re curious to learn more about pocket squares, take a look at our complete guide to pocket squares.
Wearing Lapel Pins At Formal Occasions
For particularly dressy occasions, whether or not you should wear a lapel pin is situation-dependent. See below for a couple of common scenarios:
Wearing It With A Tuxedo
Wearing A Lapel Pin To A Wedding
Depending on your role in the wedding, you may or may not want to wear a lapel pin. In our opinion, grooms and groomsmen should wear boutonnières, but guests can feel free to decorate their jackets with a lapel pin if they so choose.
The pin’s level of conservatism (or lack thereof) should be dictated by how well you know the bride and groom and their tastes, the venue, and time of day.
If the newlyweds are somewhat staid, you should opt for a quiet lapel pin. On the other hand, if they’re party animals, something bold and fun would be totally appropriate.
Lapel Pins With Casual Styles
When wearing a lapel pin casually, you have a lot of leeway in terms of style, colour, and other aesthetic details. In these cases, it’s best to defer to your personal taste.
Putting a lapel pin in your sport coat, for example, is a great way to give some pizzazz to your look and set yourself apart from the pack. Note that many sport coats are ornately designed as it is, so you’ll want to take particular care to ensure that your pin coordinates with it from a colour perspective.
Different Types Of Lapel Pins
Naturally, there’s more than one style of lapel pin. The best practice is to try as many styles as you can and, over time, learn what your preferences are.
Long Stem Pins
Below are two examples of long-stem lapel pins. Interestingly, these are holiday-themed, perfect for end-of-year parties!
Long stem pins are usually found on faux flower lapel pins. The flower (or whatever the actual pin is) sits at the top of a pin that’s about three inches long. These are helpful for men whose lapel buttonholes are not functional, as the pin can go through the lapel and then back out easily.
This gives the lapel pin more stability and will keep it in one place all day long.
Flowers / Floral Pins
Floral lapel pins are faux flowers that you put in your lapel. They may be long stemmed, or they simply have little button-like tabs on the back that allow you to put them through a functional lapel buttonhole. Either way, these have become increasingly popular in recent years, and they’re pretty inexpensive.
They’re also extremely popular, and as such, we’ve given them their own dedicated page. See our guide to lapel flowers for more.
Badges & Custom Pins
Badges are typically pins that show allegiance to or membership in some kind of organization or club. They’re often small and quite nondescript.
The lapel pins pictured above are all badge-style pins. From left to right, they indicate:
- Fandom of the Tottenham Hotspurs, an English football club
- Membership in the Union League of Philadelphia
- Membership to the New York Horological Society
Boutonnières are real live flowers worn in the lapel. Technically, they are not lapel pins. However, you can learn all about these in the dedicated boutonnière guide.
Where To Buy The Best Lapel Pins?
Typically, lapel pins are quite personal so the chances are that you’ll find the ones best suited to you when frequently places that correspond to your interests.
For instance, sports-related ones are often sold near the stadium or at the official store. Meanwhile, religious or political ones will be available at related events. Otherwise, if you’re a fan of popular culture, they tend to be sold with other merchandise.
Nevertheless, we’ve taken a look at what’s available online to find you the best lapel pin brands on the internet:
Simply use the links above to jump ahead or scroll down to learn about them all!
Ties.com is a one-stop-shop for men’s neckwear and accessories. Therefore, it’s no surprise that it has a diverse and eclectic collection of lapel pins! In our opinion, the variety and value for money makes it the best option when buying lapel pins for your suit.
Furthermore, its lapel pins are designed to be worn with suits. As a result, they’re stylish yet understated. What’s more, they’re quite affordable so it’s not going to hurt your wallet to pick up a few to integrate into your wardrobe.
"Dapper yet understated, Ties.com offers the best selection and value for money for lapel pins."
Like Ties.com, The Tie Bar is a men’s accessory retailer that specialises in neckwear and related bits and pieces. It’s probably the best known of the two and it offers great value for its products.
Generally, we preferred the lapel pins offered by Ties.com but The Tie Bar is cheaper with an equally large selection of items.
Although the famous American menswear brand has a limited selection of lapel pins, they’re by far the highest quality and most elegant. Indeed, they’re small and subtle so to ensure they’re just additional attention to detail rather than an obtuse declaration.
However, the stock is quite modest and there isn’t a huge range. Nevertheless, they’re not quite as expensive as we expected!
Pinsanity lives up to its name well! Specialising in pins, it has an outrageously diverse selection with different themes and concepts. Although gravitating towards popular culture, Pinsanity is a small independent brand. That said, it does have a great selection of NASA-themed pins.
Therefore, its products may reference well-known licences but it avoids infringing copyright. Consequently, you’ll often see that it has an excellent choice of art and retro-themed pins that are fun yet tasteful and subtle.
While Pinsanity was quite wild and fun, PinMart is destined for adults and professionals. Therefore, much of its range is dedicated to experts in different sectors. It has a wide selection of pins for people in the medical field as well as options for military and law enforcement personnel.
Furthermore, PinMart also offers a wide range of pins for people wishing to express any political, patriotic, or religious beliefs. You also have pins for fashion as well as causes and charities. Similarly, you can buy in bulk if it’s something you wish to give out at the workplace or for an event.
Although not quite made for wearing with a suit, Bioworld offers many opportunities to express your inner geek. While Pinsanity and fun and carefree, Bioworld focuses on licenced popular culture merchandise.
For instance, it has Harry Potter, Star Trek, Marvel, and DC Comics lapel pins. As far as we know, Bioworld is an official producer of licenced pins so these are genuine articles.
Since they’re made for people for all ages, they may be a little large for a suit lapel so bear this in mind if you’re somewhat self-conscious!
What Next: Other Lapel Resources
Now that you’re familiar with lapel pins, do you know about other ways to dress your lapel? Take a look at our other lapel pages for more: