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Which Suit Lapel is Right for You?

Categories Fashion

More essential knowledge when it comes to dressing for your shape.

Notch, peak, shawl . . . not all lapels work with all suits, or all occasions, or all body types. So if you’re a bigger gent looking for an everyday suit for work or a smaller bloke preparing for a red carpet gala, which lapel suits you?

Notch lapel

What is it? The fabric of the collar meets the fabric of the lapel at roughly a right angle. Also known as a stepped lapel, it’s the most common type because it’s also the most versatile — if you only own one suit, the jacket has a notch lapel.

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What’s the occasion? The staple of your wardrobe: it’s what you wear to the office everyday (particularly with an open collar without a tie), it provides a neutral canvas for other bold statements in your outfit like a flashy shirt or tie, it looks sharp in a casual setting when simply wearing a jacket stands out.

Who’s it for? This safe option suits everyone, but tends to flatter a slimmer body — especially with a skinny tie matching the width of a thinner lapel.

 

Peak lapel

What is it? The fabric of the collar meets the fabric of the lapel in an acute triangle pointing up towards your shoulders; the most expensive variety because it’s the most difficult to tailor.

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What’s the occasion? A more formal choice than the notch, the peak lapel is always seen on double-breasted suits and morning coats. The size of the lapel has fluctuated throughout history — and so has this style’s popularity — but you’re more likely to see a pointed lapel at a wedding or black-tie dinner than at work on a Tuesday morning, unless you share an office with Harvey Specter.

Who’s it for? The pointed edges add height by directing your eyes upwards, so it’s a go-to for short blokes, while the wider lapel (accompanied by a wide shirt collar and tie) also flatters the larger gent.

 

Shawl lapel

What is it? Continuous fabric from the collar right down to the button (usually a single-button closure) — just an unbroken rounded edge with no peak or notch.

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What’s the occasion? Any event calling for a tuxedo. The shawl lapel is the most format of the three categories because you’ll hardly ever see one on anything other than a tux or a dinner jacket, and maybe a classic velvet smoking jacket. Something to be saved for the most special of occasions.

Who’s it for? The classic V shape suits most body types, but if you’ve got a moon face, the continuous curve will only exaggerate your round features.