Back in the day, lapel pins were made to signify personal achievement or membership to an exclusive group. Think military rankings, collegiate sports teams, or the Illuminati (we see you J and Bey). Before everything got super casual in the late 60۪s, sharply-dressed businessmen like your grandpa and Don Draper wore subtle pins or even a flower on their lapel. Fast forward a few generations, and the pins that are getting some shine aren't the corny flair you've seen in Office Space. Pins are now small pieces of art linked to one's sense of style and passions, and the application for them doesn't end at a suit collar.
One theory explaining the lapel pin blowing up as a trend comes down to simple economics. Unlike dropping considerable loot on the newest retro kicks or Italian-made dress shoes, spending value meal money on a pin can add a small but significant boost to your hopefully already keen sense of style. Another reason for the popularity in pin collecting spiking is beneficial interactions. For now, pin-based hashtags on social media aren't just to stunt or to maximize likes. There's a real community out there that's willing to sell, share, and trade just about any type of pin you can think of, and most members aren't looking to set up a pissing contest with others. Yet. Take a quick look at the hashtags #pintrill, #pingame, and #pinstagram and get those wallets ready. There's a wealth of information out there thanks to collectors who are using hashtags the right way.
Since the pin collecting trends were reborn, sellers have been coming out of the woodwork to supply the needs of a growing market. Big guns such as Pin Trill and Pin Drop NYC immediately come to mind, but a quick search on Etsy, Storenvy or Big Cartel will reveal thousands of dope pins for sale that you can accessorize on suits, outerwear, or headwear. It's a free-for-all with online sellers and the buyer's benefit from it. And just like the watch and cufflink arenas, there۪s a large haul to be had within vintage realms too.
Feeling ready to get into it? A few words of caution before leaping into the pin game...
1. Consider the time and place, not every occasion is a pin occasion. If you۪re stepping up your game for an upcoming wedding, event, or a date, pin it to win it. But if you work in a more conservative and formally-dressed office in the environment, consider holding off. You might think that pin of Kanye۪s face is tight, but I doubt your boss does.
2. Keep pins relatively small and in proportion with your suit and lapel. Too large a pin becomes a distraction and takes away from everything else you have to offer. A massive flower pin on your lapel actually says obnoxious and not stylish dandy.
3. Like a conversation at the dinner table, leave sex, religion, and politically-inspired pins all the way off of your clothing, especially in a professional setting. Don۪t destroy your sharp suit vibes with a pin that has what you think is some clever or "important" saying on it.
4. Overall you want your pin game to complement your overall look and not shock or distract. Ultimately, the right pin should bring something to the table, but in a subtle way.