When is the Right Time to Wear Lapel Pins?

Style has evolved over the years, including every minute detail added to accessorize outfits. Lapel pins are easily one of the most classic ways to level up any outfit. Originally created as a way to symbolize one’s affiliation to specific political parties or organizations, classic hard-enamel lapel pins have opened the door to a multitude of new styles, functions, and options. Now symbols of art and style, lapel pins have become a quick and easy way to customize your look. But is there a right time to wear a lapel pin? We lay out the different kinds of lapel pins and the most appropriate occasions to wear them here:

Types of Lapel Pins

Stick Pins – Stick pins are the most traditional of lapel pins and the easiest way to add a little vintage touch to any look. This type of pin can be easily attached and secured, thanks to its thin needle. They are related to the long stem pin, modern lapel pins that are popular for their length and timeless style.


Butterfly Clutch – This kind of pin was made popular in the military. It was used to distinguish between units and ranks. Butterfly clutch pins have a sharp point on them that, upon squeezing, releases the clutch; this mechanism earned them their other name, which is clutch backs. This type of pin is usually small enough to not call too much attention, making it a great choice if the wearer wants to wear more than one pin.  


Magnetic Clasp – These are lapel pins that consist of two magnetic disks for attaching the front and back of the pin. This design makes them ideal for those who prefer not having tiny holes pierced into their clothing. A downside of this, however, is that they tend to be less secure, and the magnets get weaker over time.


Screw and Nut – These lapel pins are known for being the most secure of the bunch. The needle attached to the pin is set securely in place by the nut.


Boutonnieres and Floral Pins – This is a type of lapel pin made out of a flower. They came into popularity before the advent of modern lapel pins and are a common sight in balls, proms, and other formal events. Floral pins were borne from the aesthetic objectives of Boutonnieres but used materials such as silk or cotton, and are much smaller in size.


Badge – These are among the most traditional types of lapel pins. Originally conceived to show off political loyalties, affiliations, or memberships to exclusive clubs, they were also used by the military as accessories.


When to Wear a Lapel Pin

design your own lapel pins

Formal Events – Formal events present the perfect opportunity for using lapel pins as accessories. Best paired with tuxedos and black formal, lapel pins are customarily worn on the left lapel. This is also a great time to whip out a floral pin or boutonniere—a small white or red one can add instant visual interest. Weddings are another formal event where floral pins are most suitable. A popular and traditional choice are carnations, especially the white ones, but other colors and flowers are also rising in popularity, such as roses, lavenders, as well as sunflowers.


Business / Work Events – Lapel pins used to be worn in the workplace as a means of achievement for employees or to show off affiliations. Though no longer a common accessory in modern organizations, lapel pins are still acceptably worn on everyday work wear such as suits and coats.


Daily Wear – While putting an entire rose on your lapel may seem out of place in a bar on a weekend, that doesn’t mean all lapels are off limits for everyday wear. More subtle pins such as long-stemmed lapel pins instantly level up any simple outfit, while custom badges and mini pins can give your outfit an edgy flair or even add personality to any jacket, sweater, or bag.


With the variety of lapel pins out there, as well as the option to design your own, the styling options are endless. Whether you want to add a tiny pop of color or to make any tailored outfit more modern without having to resort to any alterations, lapel pins should be your go-to. With this comprehensive list of lapel types and etiquette, you should be able to put together a new look using a variety of lapel pins for your next event.

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