Reviewed & updated: September 11, 2023 by Jamie Wilson BA
Today, we’re diving into an often neglected but critical part of your suit game—the lapel. You may think it’s just a piece of fabric, but the type of lapel you rock can make or break your whole look. From boardrooms to bars, it’s the silent communicator of your style and intent. Stick around, and I’ll break down the different types of jacket lapels so you can elevate your game and pick the one that resonates with your vibe. Trust me, this is Suiting 101, and you don’t want to skip this class.
The Notch Lapel: Your Workhorse
This is your bread and butter. Also known as a “step collar” in the UK, the notch lapel is your go-to for business suits. It’s versatile enough to look good on almost anyone, especially if you’ve got an Oval, Oblong, or Square face. Body type? It’s forgiving there, too—fits Average, Big and tall, and Short and thin guys like a glove. If you’re lost on face and body types, check out our guides for a quick catch-up.
Notch Lapel Vs. Shawl Lapel
The devil’s in the details, and that detail is the “gorge”—the point where your lapel meets the collar. Notch lapels have an open gorge. In contrast, shawl lapels are gorge-free, combining the collar and lapel into a single, flowing piece.
Notch Lapel vs. Peak Lapel
Here’s where geometry kicks in. A notch lapel has a 90-degree open space at the gorge. The peak lapel? It goes bold, jutting outward and upwards, saying, “Hey, look at me.”
The Shawl Lapel: Your Black-Tie Wingman
It’s all smooth sailing with this one—literally. Shawl lapels, found primarily on black-tie gear, are a single, soft piece. Angular faces like Squares, Triangle, and Diamond? This is your lapel. The same goes for the Thin and Tall & Thin crowd; the shawl lapel’s curves balance things.
Shawl Lapel vs. Peak Lapel
Think of it as a battle between a smooth jazz saxophone and an electric guitar. The shawl is all about roundness, while the peak lapel screams sharp angles.
The Peak Lapel: Turn Up the Volume
When you want to crank up the flair, go for the peak lapel. Standard on double-breasted suits and tuxedos, this style is about making a statement. Got a round or oval face? The peak lapel adds some geometric contrast that works in your favor. For the Short and Heavyset guys, this lapel can visually stretch you out.
Peak Lapel Vs Wide Peak Lapel
Trends change, fellas. The super-skinny lapel is making way for a more comprehensive look. Brands like Indochino offer “wide peak lapels,” but remember, “wide” is relative to the brand’s standard. Body type should guide your choice here: more petite frame, go narrow; larger frame, go wide.
So, there you have it—lapels decoded. The next time you suit up, you’ll know exactly what you’re saying. Until then, keep it sharp.
What Are The Best Lapel Options For Someone With A Round Face?
If you’re rocking a round face, your best lapel move is to aim for some angularity to break up the symmetry. The peak lapel is your friend here—it juts upward and outward, adding lines and angles that can elongate your face and add a bit of edge to your look. The peak lapel’s more defined structure creates a balancing effect, adding geometric contrast to a rounder face.
Peak lapels are usually found on double-breasted suits but are becoming increasingly popular on single-breasted options for the guy who wants to stand out a bit. So, if you’ve got a round face and want to make a sartorial statement, give peak lapels a shot. You’ll likely find they add that extra class and style you’re after.
What Are The Current Trends In Lapel Width?
Alright, here’s the lowdown on lapel widths: We’re currently seeing a shift away from the super-skinny lapels that dominated the fashion scene for the past few years. Those pencil-thin lapels were too specific, and honestly, they didn’t work for everyone. What’s coming in hot now is a more balanced approach, leaning towards moderate and wider lapels.
Why the change? Well, wider lapels offer a timeless appeal and are versatile; they suit various body types and bring a touch of old-school elegance back into modern suiting. Brands, especially in the made-to-measure space like Indochino, offer “wide peak lapels” alongside their standard offerings. Just a heads-up, though: “wide” is relative and can vary between brands.
But don’t just jump on the trend wagon blindly. The key here is to match the lapel width to your body type and the width of your tie if you’re wearing one. For broader guys, a wider lapel will be more proportional to your frame. For the more slender dudes, sticking with a narrower (but not too skinny) lapel will likely work better for you.
So, if you’re about to invest in a new suit or refresh an old favorite, keep these trends in mind. Like anything in fashion, it’s all about what works best for you. Keep it sharp, guys.
How Do Lapels Impact Overall Style And Intent?
Alright, fellas, let’s get to the heart of the matter. Lapels are the unsung heroes of your suit. They’re not just decorative flaps on your jacket; they’re a stylistic weapon. Think of lapels as the finishing touch that shapes the narrative of your outfit—essentially, they’re the punctuation at the end of your style sentence.
Office Hustle: The Notch Lapel
You’re not just “some guy” in a suit when you’re wearing a notch lapel. You’re the guy who means business without needing to scream it from the rooftop. This is your 9-to-5 lapel, suitable for client meetings and making power moves, even if that’s taking the office’s last cup of coffee. Its universal appeal makes it ideal for various settings without causing any raised eyebrows.
Red-Carpet Ready: The Shawl Lapel
When you roll in with a shawl lapel, it’s an instant message that you’re not here to play but to slay. Usually reserved for black-tie affairs, the shawl lapel elevates your suit from “just formal” to “damn, who’s that?” It’s a showstopper that cues everyone in the room that you’re aware of the event’s gravity and your place in it.
Go Bold or Go Home: The Peak Lapel
Peak lapels are your style statement. They scream confidence and individuality. Donning a suit with peak lapels says you’re not afraid to stand out and be counted. Whether it’s a high-stakes business deal or a wedding where you must impress, the peak lapel sets the tone. It’s like rolling up to the scene in a sports car instead of a sedan.
Subtext and Balance
It’s also worth mentioning that lapels serve as a balancing act for your physique and face shape. As we discussed before, the right lapel can elongate a round face or soften harsh angles. They can also add some proportionality if you’re a bigger guy or give some substance if you’re slender.
So, don’t sleep on the lapel next time you’re in the market for a suit or considering what to wear to an event. It may be the game-changer you’ve been overlooking. It’s not just about wearing a case; it’s about wearing YOUR suit. Get out there and make that statement, gents.
Alright, gents, there’s the playbook on lapels. They’re not just there for show; they’re a strategic part of your suit that speaks volumes about your style and intent. The notch lapel is your safe bet for the office and most formal events. If you’re a black-tie guy or want to show off some flair, then the shawl or peak lapel should be in your arsenal. But remember, your face shape and body type can influence how each lapel style works for you. It’s not one-size-fits-all. If you need more certainty, feel free to consult our guides or get some professional advice. The risk? Pick the wrong lapel, and it can throw off your whole vibe. The upside? Get it right, and you’re not just wearing a suit—you’re making a statement. So, don’t overlook this crucial detail. Take a minute before your next suit purchase or tailor visit to think about your lapel game. Trust me, it’s a minute well spent. Keep it stylish, fellas.