Style / July 2016

The Simple Beauty of the Boutonniere

The buttonhole is a simple and and elegant formal touch, but it holds immense power. Grounded in romantic and nostalgic connotations, when done well, its an utterly rakish accessory.

There is something about a boutonniere that can’t help but be fantastical, can’t help but be romantic. Perhaps it is the unexpected burst of colour and texture thrown forth from one’s lapel, the deliberately eye-catching ostentation, or perhaps it’s their association with many of menswear’s most elegant scions over its centuries of employment. Perhaps, much like romance, it’s also an inherent sense of risk of the boutonniere that lends it some of its appeal - one doesn’t conjure up images where they have been employed to decidedly inelegant effect. Regardless, whether one is tying the knot or prospecting for amorous attention, there is no other accessory quite like it and for those who can utilise one well, they can turn an ensemble into something truly special.

The boutonniere’s roots can be traced back to the Wars of the Roses, where the knights of the houses Lancaster and York would affix roses, of red and white respectively, to their armour denoting which of the two houses they supported, however their modern incarnation truly came into being during the 1800s in London. This period saw a surge in interest in floriography, or the language of flowers - a practice of using flowers to cryptically communicate. It was common practice for men to begin carrying small ‘talking bouquets’, gifted to them by paramours, in their breast pockets in order to show, and gloat about, their beloved’s feelings for them to the world.

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Ben St George

Ben St George is The Rake's Head of Buying