Suit Lapels: A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Right Style for You

suit lapel


When it comes to dressing up for a formal event or a professional setting, the suit lapel is an essential detail that can make or break your look. With numerous lapel styles available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one that suits your occasion, body type, and personal style. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of suit lapels, explore the different types, and provide tips on choosing the perfect lapel for any event.

Understanding the Different Types of Suit Lapels

Person Sitting on Stairs Beside Sunglasses, suit

1. Notch Lapel

The notch lapel, also known as the step collar, is the most common type of lapel found on men’s suits. It features a V-shaped indentation where the lapel meets the jacket’s collar, usually at a 90-degree angle. This style is versatile and can be worn for various occasions, from business settings to semi-formal events.

Notch lapels come in different widths, with slim lapels being popular among younger men and wider lapels often seen on more traditional suits. The general rule for choosing the right lapel width is to match it to your tie width and body proportions. For example, a skinny lapel pairs well with a narrow tie and a slim figure, while a wide lapel complements a broader chest size and a wider tie.

2. Peak Lapel

The peak lapel, also known as the peaked lapel, features an upward-pointing tip that extends past the collar. This lapel style is typically seen on double-breasted suits and single-breasted suits with a more formal appearance. Peak lapels are often considered a more elegant and powerful option, making them ideal for black tie events, weddings, and other formal occasions.

Similar to notched lapels, peak lapels come in various widths, with the same general guidelines for matching them to your tie width and body proportions. A notable feature of peak lapels is the V-shape they create, which can draw attention to the shoulders and create a more imposing silhouette.

3. Shawl Lapel

The shawl lapel, also known as the shawl collar, is a continuous curve that wraps smoothly around the neck and down the front of the jacket. This lapel style is often seen on dinner jackets and tuxedos, making it ideal for black tie events and other formal occasions. The shawl lapel creates a sleek, sophisticated look that sets it apart from other lapel styles.

Shawl lapels are typically the same width as the jacket’s collar, creating a seamless transition from collar to lapel. They are often made from a different fabric, such as satin or grosgrain, which adds an extra touch of elegance to the suit jacket.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Suit Lapel

man holding smartphone while smiling, suit lapel

A. Occasion

When selecting a suit lapel, it’s essential to consider the event you’ll be attending. For formal events like black tie weddings or galas, opt for a peak lapel or shawl collar to create a sophisticated and elegant appearance. For business settings or semi-formal occasions, a notch lapel is a versatile and appropriate choice.

B. Body Type

Different lapel styles can complement various body shapes, so it’s crucial to consider your body type when choosing a lapel. For example, peak lapels can create a broader shoulder appearance, making them ideal for men with a narrower chest size. On the other hand, notch lapels are more versatile and can suit most body types.

C. Personal Style

Your personal style should also play a role in your lapel selection. If you prefer a classic, timeless look, a notch lapel or a peak lapel on a single-breasted suit may be the ideal choice. For those who enjoy making a statement, a shawl lapel or a peak lapel on a double-breasted suit can create a unique, eye-catching appearance.

Customization Options for Suit Lapels


A. Width Variations

As mentioned earlier, suit lapels come in various widths, ranging from super slim to wide. When choosing a lapel width, consider your body proportions and tie width, as well as the overall aesthetic you want to achieve.

B. Buttonhole Styles

Lapel buttonholes can be functional or purely decorative, and they come in several different styles. Some common buttonhole styles include a straight, slanted, or keyhole shape. Adding a lapel pin to your buttonhole can also add a touch of personal flair to your suit jacket.

C. Lapel Materials and Patterns

While most suit lapels are made from the same fabric as the jacket, shawl lapels are often made from a different material, such as satin or grosgrain. This contrast in materials adds an extra touch of elegance to the jacket. Additionally, some suit jackets feature patterned lapels, which can create a unique and bold look.

Lapel Care and Maintenance

A. Proper Storage

To maintain the shape and appearance of your suit lapels, always store your suit jacket on a sturdy, wide hanger that supports the shoulders and lapels.

B. Cleaning Recommendations

Follow the cleaning instructions on your suit jacket’s care label, and always have your suit professionally cleaned to avoid damaging the fabric and lapels.

C. Handling Wrinkles and Damage

To remove wrinkles from your lapels, use a steamer or a pressing cloth and iron on low heat. If you notice any damage to your lapels, such as fraying or loose threads, take your jacket to a professional tailor for repairs.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right suit lapel not only helps you look polished and put-together for any occasion, but it also allows you to express your personal style. By understanding the different types of lapels and considering factors such as occasion, body type, and personal preference, you can confidently select the perfect lapel style for your suit. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different lapel styles and customization options to create a suit that truly reflects your unique personality.

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