You’ll notice that many of the looks/photos we’re sharing over the next little bit feature a flower on the lapel, or a “boutonnière”, which derives from the French word for "buttonhole flower".
It’s an old-school tradition that dates back to the 16th century–boutonnières were used to ward off bad luck and evil spirits, as well as cover up yucky smells and (supposedly) protect the wearer against disease.
Given we’re celebrating spring, colour and party season (as well as trackside fun; for each race day there is a specific flower you’re encouraged to wear), we wanted to explore this largely-forgotten remnant of tailoring from yesteryear, diving into the way details and pops of floral colour can bring your outfit to life and channel your personality.
If you’re thinking of picking your way through the world of floral accessories, here’s three things to keep in mind:
They’re also steeped in tradition and storytelling. It’s a beautiful world of metaphor and history to play with, as you can match a flower’s historic symbolism to the vibe and style of the occasion with a few searches on Google (as well as avoid some awkward missteps - a red rose, the flower of love and lust, might be a weird one to wear at your mum’s birthday party).
Choosing the right colour of flower (or flowers) is important, when you consider your outfit as a totality. You don’t want the colours to clash, but you also want to be wary of too much monotony or repetition; for example, a yellow rose paired with a yellow tie and pocket square can look overdone. Instead, try to select a combination of colours that work in cohesion, with the flower accenting your other choices. A pastel blue flower can play off other soft tones like pink and mint green, whereas in-your-face colours like yellow or red should be the star of the show and work with neutral colours like navy, cream and grey.
If you purchased a pre-made lapel flower from a florist, the size and attachment mechanism should be easy enough: just make sure it’s centred in the lapel and secured properly, so it doesn’t come loose. If you’re attaching your own flower, ensure the pin is well-hidden (or well-styled) and you’ve chosen a robust flower that will last the day.
If you were wondering, here’s a list of the flowers for each key race day in the Spring Racing calendar.