The Right Lapel for Your Body Type and Occasion

As a custom clothier, part of my job is to help my clients choose the right lapel for their body type or occasion. Normally this is part of the expertise that I share with all of my clients during a personal consultation while helping them find their own signature style. In this blog post, I will share some of that expertise with you. By understanding these aspects, you can make an informed decision when purchasing your next suit or tuxedo.

Lapel Widths and Cuts

Lapels are the folded flaps of cloth on the front of a suit or tuxedo jacket that are formed by the collar and the front of the garment. They are an essential component of any suit or tuxedo, and can vary in width and cut.

  1. Lapel Widths: Lapels can be narrow, standard, or wide. Narrow lapels are typically 2.5 inches or less, and are suitable for men with a slim or athletic build. Standard lapels are 2.5-3.5 inches wide, and are suitable for most body types and occasions. Wide lapels are 3.5 inches or more, and are suitable for men with a larger build. These specifications also tend to fall in and out of fashion as the trends evolve. As a general rule, it is safe to assume that a standard width of between 3 and 3.5 inches will serve you well regardless of the current fashion trend.

  2. Lapel Cuts: Lapels can also vary in their cut. The two most common lapel cuts are notch and peak. A notch lapel has a triangular cut-out where the lapel meets the collar, and is suitable for most occasions and body types. This is what most people think of when they picture a suit, and tends to be more appropriate for less formal or business occasions.  A peak lapel has a pointed or peaked cut-out where the lapel meets the collar, and is typically reserved for formal occasions or men with a more broad chested build. Peak lapels are also commonly covered in satin as part of a tuxedo ensemble. Finally, the shawl collar is worn exclusively in a formal setting, either on a dinner jacket or covered in satin for a tuxedo jacket. 

Choosing the Right Lapel

When choosing the right lapel for your body type and occasion, it is important to consider the following:

  1. Body Type: Men with a slimmer build should opt for narrow or standard lapels, while men with a larger build should opt for standard or wide lapels. Men with a more athletic build can also consider peak lapels, as they can add a more angular shape to the chest and shoulders. The goal is to accentuate the natural proportions of the chest and shoulders.

  2. Occasion: For most occasions, a standard notch lapel is appropriate. A peak lapel suit can be worn in the business setting as well, but is much more likely to draw attention. For more formal occasions such as black-tie events, a peak lapel that is covered in satin, or a shawl collar is typically preferred. 

Lapel widths and cuts are an essential style detail of any suit or tuxedo, and can vary in their size and style. By understanding the appropriate lapel width and cut for your body type and occasion, you can make an informed decision when purchasing a suit or tuxedo. Remember to focus on fit, fabric, and quality when choosing to buy a suit, and don't be afraid to seek out professional advice if you are unsure about any aspect of the style. With the right lapel, you can be sure to make a lasting impression at any event.