The Surprising Versatility of the Humble Lapel Pin

The lapel pin has become something that we almost take for granted.  We see them affixed to almost anyone – particularly politicians during an election year.  The lapels are one of the first things we see when we look at someone and so they play a surprisingly large role in our first impression of someone. 

How Much Can a Lapel Pin Say

Images of having things such as flowers or ribbons pinned to the lapel stretch back for hundreds of years.  Lapel pins initially emerged as a way to show a person's membership in a club or their affiliation with an organization.  Now they are used to declare the wearer's nationality, religious convictions and even the causes they support.  Lapel pins featuring the red ribbon for AIDS research, the pink for Breast Cancer, yellow for supporting soldiers and just about every other color of the rainbow have now become commonplace. 

Using Lapels to Raise Awareness

The lapels are, in many ways, prime real estate.  We may not think about it, but our lapels broadcast a great deal about us once we start to think about it.  Companies and charities have known this for a long time.   Many airlines still give out airplane pilot lapel pins to young children on each flight.  These pins not only make the kids feel important but it also sends him or her out into the world advertising that particular airline.  From a marketing point of view, everyone wins.  Charities also understand the importance and the value of making people who work with them feel special.  Charity pins are popular throughout the year.  From the American Red Cross insignia to Kids Under Cover in Australia, charities have given out pins as a way to show not only the wearer's support, but also to spread the word about their specific charity.  This, in turn, can raise awareness of certain illnesses which may not always get the attention it deserves. 

Where You've Been

These pins are also used frequently to show off certain accomplishments.  Often time, Colleges or Universities will be featured on lapel pins as are Greek Fraternity associations, local political parties and even past employers.   Military members as well as police officers are among some of the most decorated professions in the world – and they both display their accomplishments through the use of lapel decoration and pins.  Even when not in their full uniforms, both soldiers and officers routinely wear lapel pins. 

Surprisingly Collectible

Collectors from all over the world scour the internet and flea markets for collectible pins.   People collect vintage pins such as those issued for the government of Soviet Russia and also newer themed pins such as the popular line of Disney pins which are heavily traded online.  Collectible lapel pins have become popular in recent years and are now widely done both through local secondhand shops and internationally online.   This new found popularity and interest in lapel pins has been able to show their versatility.  They can help spread the word about causes, be used to denote a person's professional status or simply tell the world where you went to school.  They are a huge part of the first impression we make on others and can spark conversation with just a simple glance. 


Kelly McCloskey is a freelance writer and works with a wide variety of clients.  She enjoys writing about pop culture and the surprisingly influences simple things, like the flowers we buy or the lapel pins we wear, can have on us.    She enjoys reading and visits her local library at least once a week.  


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