Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Boutonniere: A Lesson in Language and Style

The discomfort is obvious.When students come in to order their prom flowers they just don’t know what to do with the word “boutonniere”.  Most times they don’t even know what it is, it sounds like something that happens at a rave party,  a "boot ‘n da’ ear".  Many times, they just simply mumble, “the flower that the guy wears”.

The boutonniere (say it after me, “boo ton ear”) has been with us since the 16th century.  It was initially worn as a way of warding off evil spirits, bad luck and the occasional malicious demon. Sounds like the perfect accessory for a high school prom doesn't it.  The word “boutonniere” is French for button hole which refers to where the flower is worn, on the left lapel button hole of the jacket.  The British still refer to the flower as a “buttonhole”.  During the 18th and 19th century, it became an essential fashion accessory for the hippest guys.

The classic boutonniere has been spotted on some of history's sexiest leading men including Cary Grant, Fred Astair, and Oscar Wilde.  Boutonnieres were recently spotted  at the Oscars on the jackets of Tom Ford and Forest Whitaker. Historically carnations and roses were used to create a boutonniere. 

Today’s boutonniere or bout (boot) for short, has so many more options.  This is especially true for proms.  Just because it’s to be worn by a guy, doesn't mean boring and plain!  Au contraire!  Let’s face it, which peacock is the flashiest? Sometimes it is okay for a man to shine, especially on his prom night.   The simple bud or small bloom now comes tricked out with decorative wire, beads, feathers, ribbon and more accouterments than ever before. You boutonniere is another way to express yourself and your personal style at prom. 

When placing the order for a boutonniere, it is essential to know the color of the clothing it is to be worn on or next to (as in the date’s dress).  Be adventurous with the selection of flower.  It should be something that’s sturdy and can handle abuse.  A rose bud, dendrobium, miniature cymbidium, orchid, carnation, or even a cluster of berries and foliage make for excellent choices.  The key to success is size!  In this case, bodacious (Southern for “big and beautiful”) is not necessarily better.  A tastefully sized boutonniere doesn't rip the lapel or dwarf the wearer.  If it approaches something that Bozo the Clown would have worn, then you might need to re-evaluate. 

Finally, how to attach it to the lapel?  Originally, as earlier pointed out, the stem of the flower was simply stuck through the buttonhole in the lapel.  Today, most jackets don’t even have button holes, so this has necessitated the use of sharp instruments like pins.  This has frequently resulted in flowers flipping and flopping around and unfortunately even the shedding of blood!  Thankfully, there are now wonderful little high powered magnets that allow for less stress and bloodshed.  A small metal disc is attached to the bout.  Then, once the bout is put in place on the lapel, the magnet is placed behind the lapel to magically hold the flower in place. Voila!  Choose wisely my son, and you will be sure to catch the eye of every belle at the ball!

Robbin Yelverton AIFD, CFD, MCF, PFCI
Blumz… by JRDesigns Floral & Events
Detroit & Ferndale

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