The Case for Shawl Lapels


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Shawl lapels are recognisable by their lack of peaks or notches. Instead, they consist of an unbroken shawl of fabric around the collar of a jacket. Typically, this style of lapel is reserved for dinner jackets. There’s a pretty good reason for this: shawl lapels are generally considered the most formal type of lapel. 

However, that’s not to say that shawl lapels only belong on dinner jackets. This type of detailing can add a certain something to suit jackets, sports coats and blazers too. In fact, we think a well placed shawl lapel can be a brilliant addition to a wide range of jacket styles. Even better: choosing bespoke tailoring means that you can choose how and when to add one. 

The history of shawl lapels

The shawl lapel emerged from Victorian gentlemen’s clubs where they originally adorned smoking jackets, which were a dress code requirement. This past is almost certainly where this lapel style gained its reputation: a mishmash of traditionalism and decadence.

Over the latter half of the twentieth century, this type of lapel become synonymous with a certain stylish secret agent. 007 is well known for his dinner jackets, and many of his iconic film moments have been accessorised with a shawl lapel. Shawl lapel dinner jackets have been worn by Sean Connery as Bond, Timothy Dalton as Bond, Roger Moore as Bond and Daniel Craig as Bond

Why we think you should consider a shawl lapel

We think shawl lapels are wonderfully versatile. They add instant vintage charm to any jacket. On a dinner jacket they are extremely formal, but they don’t have to be reserved for black tie occasions. in fact, a shawl lapel can turn a linen jacket or blazer into a less structured, more fluid garment.  

Thinking about choosing a shawl lapel for your next dinner jacket? You may find this a helpful read: what does your dinner jacket say about you?