While few men pay attention to the rules of using a lapel effectively, they aren’t doing themselves a great service when it comes to their wardrobe. Mixing and matching lapels on a suit unfortunately yields quite disastrous results and can be a major fashion faux-pas. Let’s take a look at the most common lapel type and determine just what setting they’re most appropriate for.
Sometimes known as the steeped lapel by different manufacturers, this is the most common of suit lapels. It will create a notchy opening where the collar meets the lapel at a sharp 90 degree angle and for this reason it’s quite a versatile collar option. It will almost always be found on off-the-rack single breasted suits, blazers, and sports jackets where budget is oftentimes the primary concern. For the most part, though, men do themselves right by choosing this lapel given its universality. If a guy is going to only have one suit in his wardrobe, then this would be the notch to have on board as it’s conservative enough for a boardroom meeting while still flexible enough for a night on the town immediately afterwards.
Peak lapels have taken a backseat to the notch in recent years and this is because it’s often seen as the most conservative and traditional of the lapel types. It is defined by an uneven notch where the bottom opening protrudes towards the shoulders so as to accentuate a man’s stature and width. It’ll usually be found on double-breasted jackets and similar formal wear, but is exceptionally common in vintage tailcoats and morning coats. Because of its heritage it’s usually not typical office wear, but wearing a peak lapel to a wedding or a funeral would be far more acceptable from a fashion perspective.
The shawl lapel is the most outlandish of the lapels as it is not characterized by a specific point in the lapel. Instead, it is a rounded edge throughout the jacket that is usually found on dinner jackets and tuxedos. It’s extremely uncommon to find this type of lapel on any other jacket, but some modern tailors have started to implement the design into more casual jackets suitable for a wider range of formal black tie events. Wearers should note that it’s usually most flattering for a slimmer, less round body type – the rounded lapel will closely mimic a bigger wearer’s less flattering features and bring them to light.