For everyday use, chevaliers and officiers wear a special hue of deep red thread sewn in a thin stripe from the buttonhole to the outer edge of the lapel, while commandeurs wear a silver thread. The thread and other legionnaire pins are sold at a store near the Palais Royal in Paris.
These threads might get some attention in France, but are harder to decode in New York. “Every time I take a suit to the dry cleaners they try to snip them off,” said Paul LeClerc, the president of the New York Public Library and a chevalier. “It’s very expensive thread if you have to go all the way to Paris” to get it.
Felix Rohatyn, the financier and former ambassador to France, said his silver commandeur lapel thread also posed problems. “Sometimes if I leave it on and send it to the cleaners, it comes back with the thing off because they thought it was a laundry mark,” he said.
Only France’s orders of chivalry could get such sympathetic coverage in the New York Times.