Parlor Tailoring’s Lapel Guide

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One of the most notable shifts in tailoring over the last 12-18 months has been the re-emergence of the wide lapel on formal and casual jackets and blazers.

Typically in more modern times, the last 8-10 years in particular suits have become far slimmer and closer fitting, this has been mirrored in the trends in suit lapels, which have in turn become far narrower to match the suits. Similarly, they’ve become simplified with thinner notch and shawl lapels becoming more commonplace on suit jackets, formal jackets and casual blazers. The last year or so has seen an increase however, in the more traditional looking peak, and a broader overall lapel appearance. But what do these terms mean, and what have they typically been used for? Here’s your Parlor Tailoring Guide.


Peak Lapel

The peak lapel is conspicuous because of the way the lapel forms a point as it reaches up towards the collar of the blazer. This point stands out beyond the general line of the rest of the lapel and collar, and is considered a decorative flourish on traditional and dress jackets. Many formal coats also mirror this look. This style has come back into vogue in the last 12 months or so. Whilst its typically been the basis for business suits and more formal wear, the peak lapel can now be seen on a variety of jackets, with the wide lapel coming back into fashion.


Notch Lapel

The notch lapel has generally been the most popular over recent years. The gradual narrowing of suits, for slim and skinny fits, has meant that in order to maintain an elegant sense of proportion between the different features of the jacket, the lapel itself has had to narrow in line with the jacket. As such, simpler less ostentatious lapels have been favoured by designers for this narrower look. The notch lapel is tidy and slightly plainer looking than the peak variety. The collar and lapel meet at a slight indentation in the line of the lapel, which is known as the notch. This more understated style has been considered a better choice for the slender looking lapels of more recent years, and has come to dominate, featuring on everything from formal, business and casual jackets and blazers.


Shawl Lapel

The shawl lapel originates in formal jackets, particularly the Tuxedo. It is characterised by the way it is one continuous uninterrupted line of fabric from the lapel through to the collar. The way it flows around the collar and neck is where it gets its name- the shawl lapel. Whilst this is still quite commonplace on formal jackets, because of its simple and slim design, it has become common on more fashionable slim fit blazers in recent years, along with the classic Tux look.

In short, there’s plenty to think about when choosing your jacket’s lapel at a tailors such as Norton and Townsend, why not talk this through with your tailor if in doubt to make sure your opt for the right variety?

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