What is the proper placement of a lapel pin?

Written by deborah cohn
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What is the proper placement of a lapel pin?
(Image from www.mcleague.com)

A lapel pin, sometimes called a "badge" or a "button," is a small pin with a separate backing that is most often worn on the lapel of a suit. Some lapel pins are purely decorative, but others are used to show achievement, such as employee recognition, or membership in an organisation such as fraternities, sororities and professional associations. The proper placement of a lapel pin can vary based on your clothing, gender and what the pin itself represents.

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Placement on a Jacket

People wearing suits and/or jackets should place the pin on their lapel. Traditionally, lapel pins are worn on the left, near the heart. This is especially important if the lapel pin symbolises something important to the wearer, such as a flag. However, it is not a serious faux pas to wear a lapel pin on the right lapel.

Certain organisations, especially military organisations, have strict codes instructing the wearer to wear the lapel pin on the right or left lapel.

Placement on a Tie

Men who are not wearing a jacket but are wearing a tie can wear their pin toward the middle of the tie. However, if a man is wearing a jacket and tie, it is most appropriate to wear the pin on the left lapel.

Placement on a Shirt

Men wearing shirts without a tie or a jacket and women wearing shirts without a jacket traditionally wear lapel pins on the left side of the shirt, near the heart.

Wearing Multiple Pins

It's perfectly acceptable to wear more than one lapel pin if one of the pins is decorative and another is either promotional-- a pin that advertises a product or company--patriotic, or symbolises a cause, such as a yellow ribbon for troop support or a red ribbon for AIDS charities.

It's also acceptable to wear multiple pins if the pins are part of a set that may show advancement in an organisation. Military organisations often promote the wearing of multiple pins, but strict regulations specify where the pins should be placed in reference to each other.

Attaching the Pin

Most pins feature a metal face, with a fairly short point and a detachable backing. You need to take off the backing, push the pin into your lapel (or tie or shirt) until the point comes through the other side, and reattach the backing.

The pin should sit upright on your lapel, tie or blouse. Make sure it is not upside down or at a strange angle. Make sure the pin is tightly clasped on the back so it doesn't rotate when you move. This seems trivial, but certain symbolic pins that are upside down may actually be offensive, as an upside down symbol often represents a negative sentiment.

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