The Perfect Look: Choosing the Right Lapel for Your Tailored Suit

When buying a suit or having one tailored to your own specifications, it can be easy to overlook the importance of lapels. Lapels represent a form of subtle decoration and exist more for form than function: unlike the cut of a suit or how well it fits, they have no obvious effect on the way it is worn. Nonetheless, a gentleman’s choice of lapel can make or break his appearance. Bespoke tailoring makes it possible to choose and manage the style of a suit in minute detail. As such, it’s advisable to know exactly what your options are when choosing this deceptively significant feature.

The lapel most people are familiar with is the notched lapel, which appears on the majority of business and interview suits. Defined by a simple notch where the upper collar meets the lower collar, this humble lapel can be worn equally well in all settings and suits all body types. When in doubt, most fashion-lovers would be well-advised to choose this type of lapel.

A thinner version of the notched lapel, known as a slim notched lapel, is also available. When it appears on a slim-fit suit, this type of lapel can accentuate the flattering shape of the suit and enhance a svelte figure.

By comparison, the shawl lapel is rounded in appearance and tends to draw attention to a rounded figure or body-shape because of the way it appears to emulate it. However, while it may not be the most flattering choice of lapel for some gentlemen, its long association with tuxedos and black tie events lends it an extra touch of class that can sometimes be missing from the notched lapel. The downside of this is that outside of special occasions, the shawl lapel can appear a tad too showy. So if you’re having a suit tailored for everyday use rather than social events, you should consider whether this lapel type is worth the risk very carefully.

If you want a lapel that speaks of suavity and sophistication, but which can be worn outside of fancy settings, the peak lapel is your safest bet. The attractive style of the peak lapel comes from the level of skill required to produce it and its distinctive shape. Where notched lapels have a notch, peak lapels feature a sharp extruding angle that points upwards towards the shoulders. This has the effect of making the wearer appear taller by drawing the gaze upward. As such, peak lapels are popular amongst anyone wishing to accentuate or add to their stature, as well as anyone looking to put a little ‘dazzle’ in their outfit. While these lapels would theoretically suit anyone, they do take a degree of panache to pull off.

As we stated at the beginning, bespoke tailoring allows you to select any lapel for your suit. Armed with this summary, you should now also be able to choose the lapel that will help you look your best.