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A Little Lesson on Lapels

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Honestly how many of you pay attention to lapels?  Sadly, this extra piece of fabric that extends from the coat collar and finely folds back onto the chest is often an overlooked detail.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked a client ‘what type of lapel would you like on your suit jacket?’ and the response is a blank stare, followed up with ‘what’s a lapel?’  Truth is most men aren’t aware and/or don’t know what options are available.  When it comes to lapel styles it really folds down to three choices: Notch, Peak, and Shawl.      

What is Notch?

The notch lapel is the most commonly recognized of all three lapels.  Sewn at an angel, the top of the lapel meets the collar making a V shape (or what I think looks like Pac man’s mouth).  If you are to purchase one suit this lifetime, I suggest a notch lapel for a timeless, classic look.

What is Peak?

With corner edges pointing upwards, the peak lapel says I’m anything but traditional.  While the notch lapel is sipping scotch in his leather armchair, the peak lapel is tossing back shots of fireball before hitting the town.  Gone are the days when this lapel style was defined as formal.  The peak lapel has evolved past tailcoats and double-breasted jackets; nowadays it’s helping the single-breasted coat reach new heights.

What is Shawl?

Known as the most formal, the shawl lapel shows off its curve with a rounded edge.  Trimming dinner jackets to appear at the finest black tie soirée or dressing up tuxedos to attend a wedding, this well-mannered lapel will have you looking ‘fancy’ your next special event.

Keep it Real…Proportioned

Almost any body type can wear these different styles.  No matter what lapel you choose, make sure you keep things proportioned.  I’ll leave you with these tips:

  • Slim lapels look best on slim fit suits and slimmer frames, in other words slim on slim on slim
  • A peak lapel will show off your V-shape torso and accentuate your shoulders
  • Rounded faces or rounded bodies should avoid wearing a shawl lapel – two rounds don’t make a right  
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