A Boutonniere can be as simple as a flower passed through a buttonhole. More commonly
though we think of boutonnieres as a small posy attached to the left lapel of a man's suit
jacket at the level of the buttonhole (but not through it) with
a long straight pin. They are typically
seen in the US at high school proms and at weddings.
For the prom, the girl usually buys the boutonniere. There may be discussion ahead of time
the type of flower
used with the girl's corsage and dress. They are usually small, less than 2 inches in any
direction and typically consist of a
focus flower (single or cluster of small flowers) and some filler flowers and greens.
For a wedding the groom typically purchases boutonnieres for himself, his attendants,
ushers and the fathers of the bride and groom. Other male family members may also be so
decorated even if not officiating in some capacity.
Boutonnieres typically cost $5 to $20 apiece when purchased from a commercial florist.
The focus flower is often a Rose bud or a Carnation, the filler most commonly is
Baby's Breath and the green Baker's
or Asparagus Fern. More expensive choices include Gardenias, Stephanotis and Orchids...
I enjoy playing with flowers so I've experimented with making boutonnieres for my sons
and for my daughter's dates when they went to their proms. Stems are wired then wrapped
in florist tape with a little curlicue being common on the tip. Greenery is added. They
look great. But one wants a little originality. Flowers need to be tough enough to last
for 6 hours or so without the stem being in water so
things like tulips and peach blossoms are not typically used commercially for good reasons.
Some of my worst failures were lovely for the first 30 minutes. This year my creations
decorated the rented labels of 2 lovely local lads. I used Lily of the Valley and ivy and
they were gorgeous as the drooping of the flowery bells just added to the effect. I'm not
sure how long they lasted...for some reason dear daughter did not invite me to the after prom
party! but they looked (and smelled) good during the obligatory
Remembrance Lapel Poppies, miniature flags
and awareness ribbons bear some resemblance to a
boutonniere in being worn on the left lapel but
also project a message. It is interesting to note that the word "posy" in
Webster's NewWorld Dictionary(1988) is defined as originally being "a line of poetry or
motto inscribed inside a ring, etc.". Small poems were called posies. Victorians used
and the language of
flowers to express "forbidden" sentiments without words. Today's commercial
boutonnieres have lost the ability to speak to the recipient in favor of the ability to last
out of water and to coordinate with the formal outfits visually.
More casual use of a flower through a buttonhole or even the suit with a rare
flower loop may be seen but not often enough. There is no reason this should be so. More
men need to stick a flower in their lapel on a daily basis! Come on guys. Talk to us.