On the versatility and flexibility of the notch lapel
As far a definition goes, the notch lapel is fairly self-explanatory. A notch lapel is characterized by a concave notch where the fabric from the lapels meet the fabric from the collar. Done and done. Simple as that.
However, like elsewhere in menswear, while identifying a particular style is relatively easy, knowing when to wear it can be challenging. And lapel styles are especially tricky, as traditional style lines have become increasingly blurred over time.
That said, the notch lapel is a traditional middle-of-the-road choice. It tends to be seen as a bit more conservative, and therefore more appropriate for situations where an overly flashy look would be out of place.
For instance, it is well suited for a day-to-day office environment, where looking sharp may be key and too much flash more disruptive than anything. On the other hand, a notch lapel can also be the way to go in a more casual setting, when wearing a jacket at all will already make you stand out enough.
Not to confuse things here, but to make a complete 180, sometimes a notch lapel is also the best choice when you’re trying to build a bolder look using the other pieces of your outfit to greater advantage. In this way, a notch lapel starts you off working with a more neutral canvas.
From a less conceptual standpoint, there are also a few pointers to keep in mind after you’ve decided on a notch lapel.
| BRIAN WEARS | QG Custom suit, Al Bazar shirt, Drake’s pocket square and tie, Rolex watch, Shoes c/o Paul Evans | PHOTOGRAPHY | by Rob McIver Photo
First, this is probably your best opportunity to rock a forward point or tab collar shirt. Not that a spread collar won’t look good with a notch lapel as well, but a forward point collar is just far less suited to peak lapels.
You’re also much more likely to find a jacket that’s suitable for a skinny tie – if that’s your thing – when considering a notch lapel. Remember the rule of matching your tie width to your lapel width? It’s merely natural that a notch lapel will tend to run skinnier than a peak lapel, if only because the peak itself adds width the lapel.
It’s also a better match as far as historical context goes, with both skinny notch lapels and skinny ties coming into popularity together, most notably during the early ‘Mad Men’ era of the late-1950s into the early-1960s.
Generally, however, a notch lapel offers a lot of versatility, which makes it a great choice for menswear beginners and experts alike. Novices can worry far less about creating a clashing ensemble, and experts can take advantage of the flexibility and really hone down the rest of their look.