The first thing that comes to mind when someone talks about lapel pins is the American Flag pin that the American Presidents wear. It inspires a sense of patriotism when you spot it on the Commander in Chief’s lapel, and is meant to instill national pride in all of us.
Lapel pins are often broken down into three classifications: military or uniform pins, political pins, and custom pins. While military and political pins generally have very specific meanings attached to each, are restricted in their use, and have rules that one must abide by while wearing them, custom pins are those that are available to anybody that would otherwise like to wear one.
One of the more common reasons that people chose to wear a lapel pin is to show camaraderie with a movement or a group. For example, religious organizations will often use lapel pins as a means to foster the sense of belonging and pride in their followers. In some cases, the lapel pin will be used to designate someone having some type of authority within the organization, or belonging to some sort of exclusive group.
Other groups use lapel pins to designate achievements that the wearer has completed. The Boy Scouts of America, for example, assigns a different lapel pin that is earned as the scout completes very specific objectives. The wearing of the Eagle Scout lapel pin would indicate to everyone that the wearer has achieved a ranking reached by only 4 percent of boy scouts.
Individuals may choose to wear a lapel pin to show support to a movement as well. Someone wanting to show their support of the Susan G. Komen Foundation might chose to wear their lapel pin that is made in the shape of a pink ribbon. Wearing the pin serves to put a spotlight on the organization, which could potentially influence the number of donations that organization receives to help in its fight against breast cancer.
As far as specific rules for wearing lapel pins, outside of the military there really is very little restriction. Most people wear pins that represent something dear to them. Wearers of American flag lapel pins may choose to follow the logic of the United States Flag Code which instructs that that American flag should be worn near the heart on the left lapel because it represents a living country. Keep in mind that various organizations may have guidelines or rules governing when and where their pins are to be worn, so it is best check with them before wearing one of theirs.
Despite all rules that may come attached to wearing a particular pin, you can still choose to wear it on the location that is most sensible to you. If you have a meeting where etiquette is important, then abide by the rules precisely. But otherwise take into account the design of the outfit that you’ll be wearing and what placement works best for you. Most people have no idea what rules might apply, anyway!