How to Put on a Boutonniere in 5 Easy Steps

Since boutonnieres are typically reserved for special occasions like weddings or proms, pinning on a boutonniere is a skill that’s easy to forget. So when the time comes, you’re likely to panic and flash forward to accidentally pricking your date or yourself—but don’t worry, putting on a boutonniere isn’t as hard as it seems!

You’ll be able to re-learn how to pin a boutonniere in less than five minutes, since you can securely put on a boutonniere in five simple steps.

The two most common methods of putting on a boutonniere are pinning it on a lapel and pinning it on a shirt. The shirt method can also be used for blouses or dresses. A third, more traditional way of securing a boutonniere is by placing it through a buttonhole and fastening it with a boutonniere latch build it to the back of the lapel. Although, many suits no longer have this feature.

How to Put on a Boutonniere: Lapel Method

  1. Position the boutonniere on the left lapel – The flower should face towards you and the greenery towards your date. It should lie in the middle of the lapel, just below the widest section.

  1. Pin starting from the back of the lapel – While holding the flower in place, lift up the lapel and pin upwards (away from your date) through the lapel.

  1. Pin through the thickest part of the flower Continue pushing the pin upwards through the thickest part of the stem. The pin should be inserted slightly diagonally, especially if the lapel is thin.

  1. Push the pin back through the lapel – Angle the pin, back through the lapel. The beginning and end of the pin should lie on the back of the lapel at an angle.

  1. Check the boutonniere is secure – Move the boutonniere from side to side to assure it’s pinned tightly. Use a second pin if needed.

How to Put on a Boutonniere: Shirt Method

  1. Choose boutonniere placement – Traditionally, the boutonniere is supposed to be placed in the upper left region of a shirt, above the heart. If the shirt has a pocket, you can pin the boutonniere to the top section of the pocket.

  1. Weave the pin in and out of the fabric slightly to the right of your chosen placement – Insert the pin slightly to the right of where you’d like your boutonniere, pinning right to left. The pin should go into the fabric and then out of the fabric. An easy way to do this is to pinch the fabric and poke the pin through both layers.

  1. Weave the pin in and out of the fabric slightly to the left of your chosen placement, leaving a pocket for the boutonniere stem – Using the same pinch and pin technique, weave the pin in and out of the shirt on the left side of where you’re placing the boutonniere. The end of the pin should rest on the outside of the shirt when complete. The section in between where the pin punctures the shirt should be large enough for the boutonniere stem to fit through.

  1. Place your boutonniere – Pull the stem through the pocket created by the pin—the pin should not go through the stem. The flower should face the person pinning.

  1. Flatten fabric and check boutonniere – Pull the fabric around the boutonniere horizontally to make sure there are no bunches or wrinkles in the shirt. Check to make sure the boutonniere is fastened securely.


How to Put on a Boutonniere: Buttonhole Method

  1. Check the left lapel – The buttonhole on the left lapel should be open so that you can stick the stem through it, and there should be a boutonniere latch on the back of the lapel. A boutonniere latch is a horizontal string below the buttonhole that helps secure the stem.
  2. Slide the stem through the buttonhole and boutonniere latch – With the flower facing outwards, insert the stem through the buttonhole and boutonniere latch. No pins needed!
  3. Arrange and secure the flower – Check the front of the lapel to assure that the stem isn’t visible. Also, make sure that the flower is laying flat and is secure.

Boutonniere FAQs

What is a boutonniere?

A boutonniere is a group of flowers and/or greenery worn in a lapel buttonhole or pinned to a lapel. It is typically worn on special events like formal dances or weddings.

How did the boutonniere get its name?

The word boutonniere stems from the French word boutonniére meaning buttonhole. This is because boutonnieres were traditionally worn through lapel buttonholes. It originated in the 19th century, which is when boutonnieres were first worn for fashion purposes.

How should you store a boutonniere?

If you’re not going to wear a boutonniere right away, you should lightly spritz it with water and store it in the refrigerator. If you’re going to keep the boutonniere in the fridge for an extended period of time, make sure not to store it near fruit, especially apples. Apples release ethylene gas, which shortens the life of flowers.

What side is a boutonniere worn on? Why?

The boutonniere is worn on the left because that’s where lapel buttonhole is. In fact, all buttonholes on men’s clothing are on the left side — buttonholes on women’s clothing are on the right side.

There are two historical theories about why buttonholes are on the left. The first is is that in war men held their shields on their left sides, so jackets that buttoned left to right would prevent a weapon from slipping through the jacket flap. The second is that men typically held swords and weapons in their right hands, so it was easier to unbutton clothing with their left hands.

There are also multiple theories about how the lapel buttonhole developed, and why people began wearing flowers there. Many believe that the lapel buttonhole was a utilitarian feature allowing men to button a cord to the buttonhole and their top hat to keep it from flying away on windy days. Others think it stemmed from the development of high collared jackets being worn with the top buttons open. Thus, flowers became natural ornaments and helped ward off bad smells.

Others recount the legend of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria gave Prince Albert flowers on their wedding day and to show them off he ripped a hole in his lapel and placed a flower in it.

Who should give a boutonniere?

At a formal dance like prom, the girl typically buys the boutonniere for her date. Her date buys her a corsage in return.

For a wedding, it depends on who is financing the event. Traditionally, the groom’s family pays for the boutonnieres. However, if the groom’s family is not financing the event, purchasing the boutonniere is up to the couple or the bride’s family if they so choose.

It is common for the groom, groomsmen, fathers and grandfathers to receive boutonnieres. Ring bearers, ushers and other immediate family members may also receive boutonnieres. The groom’s boutonniere is often specialized to make him stand out.

Who should put on a boutonniere?

At prom and other formal dances, the girl is supposed to pin the boutonniere on her date.

At a wedding, there is no official person designated to pin on the boutonnieres. If a florist delivers the flowers to the groomsmen, he or she is likely to help. Mothers in the wedding party may also help pin the boutonnieres.

What flowers are commonly used for boutonnieres?

The best boutonniere flowers have sturdy stems and will not look wilted if they are out of water for an extended period of time. Roses, carnations and calla lilies are extremely popular boutonniere flowers. Baby’s breath, seeded eucalyptus, dusty miller and rosemary are common fillers.

However, don’t let that dissuade you from getting more creative with your boutonniere. Orchids, daisies, craspedia, succulents and more can be made into unique and beautiful boutonnieres.

Now that you know how to pin a boutonniere and the essential boutonniere etiquette, it’s time to pick one out! Browse our selection of boutonnieres and have your favorite delivered right to your doorstep.


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