Thursday, June 16, 2011

Suit Lapels: What Type is Right For You?

Lapels are an often overlooked feature of a suit, but are a critical consideration if you want a jacket that is going to look good for your frame and fit your style.  Most often, men don't know how to match their lapels to their ties and end up looking out of proportion.  In this article I'll go over the three most common lapel types, how to wear them and which one is best for you.

The Notch Lapel

The most common lapel you will see is the notch lapel. Working well for almost all suit types, the notch lapel is the most versatile choice for your suit jacket lapels. Keep it in mind when you are making your first suit purchase, it will serve you well in almost all situations (also, your first suit should be navy as well. More on that in this article.)

Classic Peak Lapel from Beckett & Robb

The Peak Lapel

Most commonly seen on double-breasted jackets and dinner jackets, the peak lapel stands out more from the notch lapel but is still appropriate for almost all occasions.  You should note, however, that the peak lapel is starting to make appearances on single-breasted jackets.  I would recommend it only for those with a more fashion forward style, it takes a certain amount of confidence to pull off.

Kobe rocking a stylish Peak Lapel in GQ.

The Shawl Lapel

You might recognize this lapel from informal apparel such as robes, but is a great choice for a tuxedo.  The shawl lapel was first used in Victorian Smoking Jackets and has been adapted for suiting.  Wearing a shawl lapel anywhere but on a tux is not recommended unless you are very confident in your look and are wearing it somewhere less formal than a business setting.  In that case, go for it.

Band of Outsiders Shawl Collar Tux

How to Pick a Lapel

Rather than explain this process to you, I've got a handy flow chart to solve your lapel problems.  Follow the guide and you'll know which style is best for you in no time.

Try to keep in mind when deciding on a lapel style that your lapels should be about the same width as your ties.  Many designers are leaning towards slimmer lapels in recent years, however designers like Tom Ford are designing jackets with wide lapels as well.  I tend to lean toward slimmer lapels, especially with notch and shawl lapels.  Peak lapels will always need to be slightly wider however they do not need to be oversized.

Thanks for reading.  As always, be dapper.


  1. "Classic" Peak Lapel from Beckett & Robb" should read as "Classic Notch Lapel from Beckett & Robb" right?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. nobody, not even a hipster, should wear a shawl lapel unless it's a tux or a smoking jacket. Don't encourage bad style.

    1. That's why the only arrow that points to a Shawl collar is when buying a tux.

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  46. Very nice and informative blog for any newbie who want to become a Gentleman, there isn't any doubt that lapels plays a significant role in adding the elements of sophistication and suaveness in anyone's character. When it comes choosing lapel for a suit there is a one choice straightaway "Notched Lapel" which looks good in almost all type of suits, but in black tie attire I always get confuse with shawl vs peak lapel selection, as the dinner collar looks ideal on my brought chest that's why I prefer it but I also really liked the traditional peaked collar

  47. Someone said that at least once every man should buy a Stylish suit because suit turns a man into a gentleman. But, I am little bit confused related to lapel, but reading your guide i am more clear about lapels. thank you for sharing this blog.
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