Something’s Missing In Today’s Dress Culture!

If ever I decide to learn a new language, it will be French. There is such a smooth flow of words in speaking that language. Maybe I’d choose that language because in my travels I learned a few words like the first one flashed on the jet’s screen in the seat before me, Bienvenue, or welcome! Merci beau coup, is another one learned out of necessity to be polite, “thank you very much.” There are other phrases quickly learned when going to a French speaking country, such as bonjour, (hello). au revoir (good bye) and bonne nuit, (good night). Sil vous plait, another french word, means please. So, what do you think, am I already on my way? Speaking of on-my-way, I hope you’ll join be on this journey of shirlandyou. Hang on, we’re ready to go!

Some of you are thinking, it may be easy to get the basic phrases, but it is a difficult language to learn. I have been told the very same thing. But as a bit of encouragement, I’ve read that forty percent of English words come from French and there are lots of similarities in the two languages. We are familiar with many French words because they have become part of our language. Try these on for size: A la carte, A la mode, au gratin,  Bon appetit, Bon voyage, Condon bleu,  du jour, en route, the list is endless.  French is the official language in twenty-nine countries, the third language in the European Union and the second most frequently taught language in the world after English.

Shirlandyou readers may wonder what got me on this subject? Actually, it is the French

A pretty boutonniere

word, boutonniere. My husband and I recently returned from the wedding of our grandson and as the men in the bridal party slipped a flower into their lapels one of them asked, “how did the word boutonniere come about anyway?” The lights went on in my brain as I wondered what I could do with this word as a subject for shirlandyou.  I hope you find it to be interesting.

For a little history on the boutonniere, it originated in the 1700’s. To people then, wearing a boutonniere meant to ward off disease, evil spirits and bad smells. Just imagine a horsemen riding many miles to arrive in time for a formal party, now in progress. These were the days when showers were not common place, and a man would wear a flower in his lapel hoping its scent would cover unpleasant smells. A nice touch would be for a man to wear a boutonniere daily and this may well have been the case years ago. By the 1940’s, however, few men wore them, although in London, there were still several flower merchants, who sold ready-made boutonnieres rather successfully.

Personally, I like to see a red carnation or blue cornflower in a man’s lapel, but now

Pinning on a boutonniere takes a special knack.

when boutonnieres are seen they are usually coordinated with a bride’s bouquet. Today some lapel button holes are sewn shut, so why not pin the flower on the outside? This is not a good idea because it will flop loosely. The ideal is to have a boutonniere vase behind the button hole, slid into the loop, sewn-in for that purpose. At one time, both of these existed. Today, boutonnieres come meticulously put together, wrapped, etc., but a simple flower with a stem will do just fine if you have a functional buttonhole and backside boutonniere loop on your lapel.

So much for boutonnieres. For some reason, I do not think that there will be a resurgence of their use. The original ideas for them are no longer necessary. I for one am glad for that. If they became popular again, (first of all, suits would need to become

My favorite lapel pin.

popular again) where would the favorite lapel pin, the American flag, go?  I hope to hear from you with your ideas on the very French sounding boutonniere. May I remind you that to make a comment you click on this post’s headline, then scroll down through the  write up and there will be a box in which you may type your comment. Au revoir!

8 thoughts on “Something’s Missing In Today’s Dress Culture!

  1. I love to find out the meanings behind words and the reasons why we do what we do. I had no idea behind the boutoniere though it makes perfect sense. I spoke alot of French in my comments growing up as well as other languages. Love the cartoon Tom and Jerry and at the end of one cartoon the cats are waving goodbye while saying Arividerchi Arividerchi…!! Took Spanish for one yr in high school and learned just enough Polish to communicate with the residents at St. Stanislaus where I worked in the physical therapy dept. Isn’t it amazing how one word can set us in a direction. For me it’s music…I’ll hear a certain word and bust out in song.


    • Sounds as if you have a handle on a couple of languages. I agree, it is fun to learn enough to communicate somewhat. Learning a new language completely is another story. Going to the country where that the language represents is the best idea. Nice if we could all do that. 🙂 I always appreciate your comments.


  2. The most recent boutineer that I had to order was for my son’s high school Senior prom night. Dominick and his date dressed to match each other and their flowers, of course, also matched. Men wear boutineers and women wear a corsage… I wonder how the name of “corsage” came to be? Maybe this is another subject for a blog?


    • We gain all kinds of experience just getting our kids raised. Don’t you think so, Colleen? I love hearing about yours with your son, Dominick. Only problem is he is out of the kid age. He’s done very well through his teen years, proms included. Such fun hearing from you. I like your suggestion for another blog. Such suggestions are always appreciated.


  3. I drove through southern Quebec with one of my men to pick up some equipment today. We were both amazed at how fast the culture changes with just a few miles of travel. Staying only twenty miles (30 kilometers) from our border, all the store signs are French; vendors struggle with our English requests. We might as well be 1000 miles away!

    But we were also surprised at how easy it was to decode almost all the signs. It was obvious how many of our words have the same origin as French. ” Dave’s Pièces Automobiles” was a place you could buy parts (pieces) for your car. The word “bagel” for my breakfast sandwich was “bagel”, and for that matter so was “sandwich”. We concluded that we could probably squeeze through a day reading French, but forget listening to someone speaking it. The radio chatter was indecipherable (or indéchiffrable)!

    In high-school I chose French as my language elective. Bad choice. The only thing I can remember is “Où est la bibliothèque”–which is very helpful I am ever lost in France, and need to find the library! Ah well, “aussi longtemps!”


    • As always, Chuck, I found your comments most interesting. I can’t imagine traveling only 20 miles from home and running into a whole new world. Who’s needs to go to France. When you do get to France the library may be quite helpful. Thanks for writing!


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