Lapel pin quandary

Lapel pin quandary

Q. I have enjoyed your column for years, and hope you can help me with a question. When a man is wearing a patterned shirt, but no sport coat, and wants to wear a pin promoting a cause such as breast cancer research, where should he place the pin? I’ve read that it should go over the heart, but if the shirt has a pocket, does the pin go on the pocket or above? If it goes on the pocket, what is the placement? I’m asking for a young man who I work with, but look forward to passing your advice along as well to my young professional sons, as I’ve often done.

A. Thank you for your question. The pins you are referring to are known as “lapel pins.” I am sorry to be so negative in my answer to a long-time reader, but, to be perfectly honest, my advice would be not to wear a lapel pin on a shirt. That is, wearing a pin seems logical on the lapel of a suit jacket or a sport coat, but seems not quite right, if not exactly out-of-place, on a shirt. When a pin is worn on a jacket, it goes over the small lapel buttonhole on the left lapel of the jacket (where one would normally attach a boutonniere).

I checked with a few people in the clothing industry whose opinions I usually respect, and got a variety of different answers. Some agreed with me that wearing a pin seems to require a jacket. The most knowledgeable one of those I spoke with suggested that if, indeed, a man does wear the pin on his shirt, it should be worn on the pocket, not centered on it, but near the top of the pocket and off a bit further toward the left.

The two strangest answers I got were: 1. attached to one of the front belt loops on the trousers! and 2. on the shirt’s sleeve. Neither of these suggestions seems to me to make any sense at all. A bit more logical than either of these two would be to wear it on one of the shirt’s collar points, but I don’t recommend that idea either.

Another problem, besides looking somewhat out-of-place on a shirt, the pin could damage the shirt’s fabric. So, if a man really wants to wear his pin on his shirt, he might look into having the pin backed with one of those small magnetic attaching devices. Then, I would go back to my earlier advice and suggest placing it near the top of the pocket.
Certainly, I recognize that politics, pro-union feeling, as well as individual causes are often behind a lot of pin wearing. Also, I’m aware that today many men do not wear jackets. Even so, could you perhaps convince him that, occasionally, as part of the process of honoring the cause he is promoting, he might consider wearing a jacket?

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