Flag Lapel Pin Etiquette: How to Wear It the Right Way

Lauren Deegan

The American flag is a powerful symbol of democracy and freedom to millions of people around the world. Government buildings, schools and many private offices fly flags outside. Citizens display the flag proudly on their front porches, vehicles and during parades. Of course, some use flag lapel pins to show off their patriotism. For those who prefer to wear lapel pins, knowing the etiquette is essential. After all, the flag is a beloved, sacred symbol for many Americans.

Placement

The United States Flag Code is the ultimate source when it comes to pin-wearing etiquette. According to the code, the flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart. Though some organizations may ask their associates to wear pins in a different location, this isn’t kosher under the Flag Code. As with any important cause, the logic is that you should wear your patriotism near to your heart.

However, for men who are wearing ties but not blazers, the preferred placement for the pin is on the center of the tie. It should be used on its own and not in conjunction with another tie tack. Individuals who are wearing neither jackets nor ties should place flag pins on the left side of their shirts and just above their hearts.

Size

Wearing a flag lapel pin that’s too large is considered a bit garish. When shopping for a flag pin, opt for smaller instead of larger designs. There’s no official rule about the right size for a lapel pin, but it’s a good idea to choose one under a half inch in diameter. Pins that are overly large are especially inappropriate for business situations.

Positioning

When wearing a flag lapel pin, it’s essential to make sure that it is firmly attached to your jacket. Make sure that the pin can’t spin around as it is unacceptable under the Flag Code to display the flag upside down. In addition to being a no-no under the law, wearing an upside-down flag could also lead others to believe that you actually oppose the U.S.

Placement on Uniforms

The Flag Code clearly states that military personnel, policemen, firemen and members of other patriotic organizations can wear lapel pins as part of a formal uniform. As with other situations, the pin should be worn on the left lapel of the uniform. In military settings, prevailing dress standards must also be followed when wearing a flag lapel pin.

Placement on Costumes

As an important symbol of the country, the use of flag pins on costumes or sports uniforms is generally prohibited. However, these regulations tend to take the least precedence when it comes to etiquette. We’ve all seen lapel pins used as part of costuming in a Hollywood movie or have spotted athletes sporting them during post-game press conferences. In these cases, it’s more about the intent of the pin’s wearer than following hard-and-fast rules.

Of course, it goes without saying that it’s also important to wear a well-made flag lapel pin. At Cristaux International, we know that the flag is an enduring symbol of a powerful country. We’re proud to make gorgeous flag pins that stand up to both quality and etiquette demands.