At almost every wedding we photograph, there always seems to be some sort of light-hearted controversy about the proper placement and attachment of the men’s boutonniere. It happens so often and John is always there to handle it for the guys, I asked him to write this short blog post to help get the facts straight.
Before I discuss proper boutonniere etiquette, let’s start with a short history lesson about the bout and learn where it comes from. The word boutonniere is French for button hole. The origin is somewhat mixed, however. Some historians say that the bout, along with the bridal bouquet, were created to mask bad odors and ward off evil spirits and disease.
Others say that the tradition of wearing a boutonniere comes from England’s Civil War, or the War of the Roses. This is when military uniforms were not readily available, so the soldiers wore either a white or a red flower to distinguish which side they were on.
Fast forward to today where most men will only wear a boutonniere once or twice in their entire lives. Since boutonnieres are mostly worn to weddings, proms or other formal events, it’s no wonder why guys get confused about how they’re supposed to wear one.
The boutonniere is worn on the men’s left side of his jacket lapel and positioned just above his heart. This is the same side as the pocket square.
Traditionally, flower stems were pushed through the button hole on the upper left jacket lapel and held in place by a small loop of fabric. But since modern manufacturing methods have changed and suits are becoming less expensive, the button hole may not even be there. If it is there, it may be sewn closed. Enter, the pinned-on boutonniere. Florists have had to adapt and make the stems more attractive and decorated since the entire flower and stem will be visible.
One measure of a suit’s quality is whether it has a functioning button hole for a boutonniere. A lot of younger guys are opting for suit rentals these days, and most of them do not come with a functioning button hole. Magnetic boutonnieres are fantastic because they’re a lot easier to attach securely, but in case you have a pinned bout, try to make sure you get two pins to attach it. Double pins allow for a more secure mount with no twisting or falling.
I hope this helps clarify any questions you might have about boutonnieres.
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