What Are Peak Lapels?
Peak lapels (also referred to as “peaked lapels” or “pointed collars” in Britain) are the most formal type of lapel found in menswear.
Unlike a notched lapel which has a ninety-degree opening at the gorge (meeting place between collar and lapel), the lapel of a peaked lapel juts outward and upward toward the shoulders, going past the collar.
A detail borrowed from and found in formalwear, peaked lapels are a must on morning coats, tailcoats, and anything else that could be described using the word “formal.” Nevertheless, it can also be found on sport coats and overcoats as well as dinner jackets.
Relatively uncommon in the present day but still classic, it’s the standard lapel for double-breasted suits and is very commonly found on proper tuxedo jackets, regardless of button stance.
In the interwar years (the 1920s-1930s), peak lapel single-breasted jackets were considered quite stylish. However, following the Second World War, their popularity dwindled. It wasn’t until the 1970s that they returned albeit intermittently. Today, such a jacket is rare but the style quotient still applies.
A dressy style best suited to evenings, peak lapels are great to wear for weddings and must be worn to white tie events. They are also found on more fashion-forward and / or dressier suits.
It’s best practice to avoid wearing peaked lapels to funerals, job interviews, or any other environments in which sartorial conservatism rules the day. Such a lapel would be too flashy for these events and would do you more harm than good.
Best Jacket Styles For Peak Lapels
Certain jackets look “correct” with peak lapels, while others don’t. Below, we outline some of the garments that are best served by peaked lapels. For a primer on the difference between single- and double-breasted jackets (and more), see our guide to sport coats.
Double-Breasted & Peak Lapels
Peaked lapels are the standard on double-breasted suits. This is sartorially harmonious; double-breasted suits are incrementally dressier than their single-breasted counterparts, and peaked lapels are incrementally dressier than notched ones.
Double-breasted jackets are uncommon nowadays compared to single-breasted ones, with their most recent revival being in the 1990s.
The style has been making a slow recovery after that atrocious decade, and you can get a double-breasted suit with peaked lapels made at any made-to-measure clothier, such as Indochino.
Single-Breasted & Peak Lapels
Though rare, single-breasted peak lapel jackets are very smart. Suits with jackets such as these are great for spring and summer weddings, as they offer additional panache without the added bulk of the double-breasted jacket, which closes over itself.
Tuxedos & Peak Lapels
Tuxedo jackets take peak lapels as one of their two standard lapel options (the other being a shawl collar). This is logical as tuxedos are evening semi-formalwear.
Meanwhile, notched lapels wouldn’t be dressy enough to allow a tux to be the dressy garment it needs to be. Note that a peaked lapel tuxedo jacket may be a one-button single-breasted model or a double-breasted model.
If you are wearing a vest with your tuxedo, peaked lapels are a harmonious choice as the points of the waistcoat sync well with its points.
Note that tuxedos are sold (and more often rented) with notched lapels. Although these are perfectly wearable, they’re sartorially stuck between a suit and a dinner jacket.
To learn more about semi-formalwear, take a look at our guide to the tuxedo.
Where To Buy Peak Lapel Suits
Given that peak lapels are a little harder to find these days, here are a few of our favourite suit brands that offer excellent specimens:
- Indochino: Customisable made-to-measure suits with various lapel options.
- Black Lapel: A slightly more premium high-end made-to-measure suitmaker.
- Hawes & Curtis: Wide selection of traditional peak-lapel tuxedoes and double-breasted suits.
- Suitsupply: Fashionable and contemporary peak lapel suits.
- Stacy Adams: Outgoing yet affordable suits with unique designs.
While it may sound daunting, made-to-measure suits from certain retailers can offer sensational value for money. We’re particularly fond of Indochino and Black Lapel, which both have free options to add peak lapels to your suits.
Indochino is the cheapest and its prices easily beat most ready-to-wear brands. If you spend more than $399, you can enjoy a 10% discount with our code “BESPOKEUNIT“.
Black Lapel is a little pricier but its prices are still less than designer brands. It offers better construction and finer fabrics. You will also benefit from a $25 discount with our code “FTOBESPOKEUNIT“.
Is A Peak Lapel Right For Your Face Shape?
The shape of the face is something that every man knows inherently, but something that few men pay a lot of conscious attention to. However, knowing your face shape and how to dress it properly is a key element of style.
If you’re unaware of your face shape and would like to determine it, our face shape guide will help you understand what yours is in five minutes or fewer.
As is evidenced by one of the names for it, the pointed lapel is just that: pointed. You could also describe it as angular. No matter what word you choose, the idea is that such angularity should be paired with softer features so as to play to the strengths of both lapel and face shape.
While your best judgement, personal taste, and sartorial norms will also dictate what lapel you wear, know that the following face shapes are particularly sympathetic to the peaked lapel:
Round Face Shape & Peak Lapels
Peaked lapels and round face shapes are the peanut butter and jelly of the suit world. The lapel’s angularity contrasts beautifully with the face’s lack thereof, and both elements are kept in proportion as a result. Whenever round faced men have a choice in the matter, they should opt for a peak lapel jacket.
Oval-Shaped Faces & Peak Lapels
Men with oval faces are lucky insofar as they look good in whatever they choose to wear. Still, the oval face shape has some roundness to it, and as such the peaked lapel syncs well with it.
Heart Face Shapes & Peak Lapels
While heart-shaped faces come to a bit of a point at the chin, that point is rounded, as is the area around the cheekbones. As such, this face shape benefits from having the angularity of the peaked lapel sitting close to it.
Are Peaked Lapels Right For Your Body Type?
While we men are paying more and more attention to our physical health in recent years (which is obviously a good thing), few of us pay attention to our body types as it relates to clothes.
If you’re unsure of yours, we suggest taking a couple of minutes to look through our body type guide to determine yours. Once you have that information, you’ll be able to select not just the best lapel for yourself, but the best clothes in general.
The concept for body type is similar to that of face shapes insofar as you want the angular peak lapel to either be tempered by an aspect of the body, and / or to have it complement the body in a way that tells a noble lie. The two body types below work especially well with peak lapels:
Short Men & Peak Lapels
Guys under 5’6″ need all the help they can get in terms of appearing less short. The longer line of the peaked lapel (relative to a notched lapel) draws the viewer’s eye upwards, which gives the illusion of height.
Will a peaked lapel make a short man look tall? No. Will it help him come off as less short? Certainly.
Heavyset Men & Peak Lapels
Heavyset men benefit from peaked lapels, but for a different reason than short men. Heavier guys need extra lapel width to balance them out, and peaked lapels tend to be naturally wider than their notched counterparts. They cover up more of the chest, thus making the heavier man appear less so.
If you’re a bigger guy, consider peaked lapels whenever you have the opportunity to do so.
What Next: Other Lapel Resources
The peaked lapel is a fine detail on men’s tailored clothing. Now that you’re more familiar with it, we invite you to take a look at our other lapel pages: