The lapel is an often-overlooked component of men’s suits that can play an important role in determining the personality and formality of a jacket.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the differences between each jacket lapel style as an easy and high-level introduction to the subject. You can read about any of the following here:

Interested in one in particular? Simply click on the link above and jump straight to it.

Notched-Peak-and-Shawl-Lapels

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What Is A Notch Lapel?

plaid jacket with lapel flower

The notched lapel (“step collar” in England) is the standard lapel style for business suits and other conservative jackets. Its ubiquity makes it play well with any face shape and body type, though it’s particularly sympathetic to Oval, Oblong, and Square face shapes.

It also pairs well with Average, Big & Tall, and Short & Thin body types.

If you’re unsure of either of these things as they relate to you, see our guide to face shapes and / or our body type guide.

Notch Lapel Vs Shawl Lapel

Notched-and-Shawl-Lapel-Gorge

Lapel styles are determined by how the gorge is treated. The gorge refers to the point at which the jacket’s collar and lapel meet.

Notch lapels have an open gorge, but shawl lapels (or, more accurately, shawl collars) don’t have a gorge at all. The collar and lapel are all one piece, which is why this is often referred to as a shawl collar. Below, you can see the difference between the two lapel styles:

Notch Lapel Vs Peak Lapel

Notched-and-Peak-Lapel-Gorge

A notch lapel has a 90-degree open space at the gorge. A peaked lapel has much less space (if any), and the lapel juts outward and upward toward the shoulder, extending past the collar itself. See below for a visual representation of the differences:

What Is A Shawl Lapel?

Idris-Elba-DB-Tux-Shawl-Collar

Shawl lapels (also known as shawl collars) are totally rounded, gorge-less collars wherein the lapel and collar are actually made of one piece. Only found on black tie attire (with a particular commonness on smoking jacket), the shawl collar can be worn with either single or double-breasted jackets.

Shawl collars are best suited for men who have angular face shapes, such as Square, Triangle, and Diamond. They also tend to work well on Thin and Tall & Thin men, as the roundness of the lapel softens the harsher angles of these faces and body types.

Shawl Lapel Vs Peak Lapel

Peak-and-Shawl-Lapels

There couldn’t be more polar opposites than shawl collars and peaked lapels. One is typified by roundness, the other by angularity and pointiness as illustrated by the graphic above.

What Is A Peak Lapel?

Dark Suit With Green Tie

Also known as a “point lapel” in England, peak lapels are the dressiest lapel style.

Characterized by a closed gorge and a lapel that points upwards towards the shoulder, they’re standard on double-breasted suits, common on tuxedo jackets, and can make a single-breasted suit look more rakish than it would with a simple notched lapel.

As its defined by angularity, the peak lapel works best on men with rounder facial and body features. Round, Oval, and Heart shaped faces all share some softness that gets tempered by the peaked lapel’s angles, and Short and Heavyset men benefit from the height and slimness the peak lapel offers.

Peak Lapel Vs Peak Wide Lapel

Peak-Vs-Peak-Wide Lapels

Super narrow lapels have been in style for years, but we’re beginning to see a swinging of the pendulum in that regard. Many retailers -especially in the made-to-measure sphere- have begun to pick up on the fact that a skinny lapel doesn’t work for everyone. In fact, it works for relatively few, but that’s a different discussion for a different time.

As such, lots of retailers such as Indochino have begun offering a “wide peak lapel” in addition to their regular lapel offerings. The catch is that every retailer will have a different viewpoint as to what “wide” means, and it’s always going to be relative to what a regular peaked lapel looks like for them.

Let your lapel width decision be determined by your body type. If you’re a small-framed man, go with a narrow peak lapel. If you’re a larger guy, a wider one will sync better with your frame.

What Next?

Now that you have an introduction to lapel styles, why not check out our in-depth lapel resources? You can see them all by clicking the links below:

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