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The HSS Guide To Lapel Styles

October 19th, 2016

Explaining the differences between notch lapel, peak lapel and shawl lapel

When considering suits and blazers, it’s easy to become so overwhelmed by the myriad choices of fabrics, patterns, and colors that you can easily look past the basics, like simple construction details.

More specifically, the lapel style of your blazer can say a lot. And while notch, a peak, or a shawl style lapels all have their place, and none is either a fail-safe bet or unequivocally avoided, your decision should be both informed and deliberate.

Here’s a quick guide to suit and jacket lapel styles. As always, click the images for a more in-depth history and explanation of each lapel style.

Notch Lapel

mens suit jacket lapel styles guide

The notch lapel is a traditional, middle-of-the-road lapel choice and has long been the standard lapel style on single-breasted jackets. 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.

Wear It To: Anywhere. A notch lapel is your go-to everyday jacket lapel style. It’s also great for some of those first impressions kinds scenarios, including your first day at a new job, job interview, first date, or meeting a significant others’ parents for the first time.

Looks Best On: Everyone. A notch lapel is simply timeless and classic.

Peak Lapel

mens suit jackets lapel styles guide

The peak lapel falls into a kind of funky middle ground. On a structured business suit, it’s definitely a power move that puts it above a standard notch lapel. That said, it’s flashier at the same time, so maybe not a great choice for a young professional just starting to climb his way up the corporate ladder. It’s also seen as a more formal lapel style, which is why you’ll often find it on tuxedos as well.

Wear It To: Business meetings, lunches, dinners or cocktails at nice restaurants, anywhere in Italy.

Looks Best On: The dapperly suited sartorial set, businessmen, shorter men, guys carrying around a few extra pounds.

Shawl Lapel

mens suit jacket lapel styles guide

A shawl lapel is a continuous strip of fabric running from lapel to collar to lapel, and only tapering off when it finally hits the button closure.Generally, a shawl lapel is seen as one of the most formal lapel styles for a jacket. This is largely due to the fact that it’s used almost exclusively for tuxedo and formal dinner jackets.

Wear It To: Black tie and other types of formal events.

Looks Best On: Everyone, if the proportions are right. Stay away from overly narrow shawl lapels.

Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

Brian Sacawa & Adam Lehman
He Spoke Style

Photography by Rob McIver Photo

Brian Sacawa

Brian Sacawa is the Founder of He Spoke Style and one of the original men’s style influencers. Since 2013, his goal has remained the same: to provide men the advice and inspiration they need to dress well, develop their personal style, and gain more confidence. Brian’s interest and passion for men’s style and luxury watches has led to his writing for The Robb Report, The Rake, and Sotheby’s and he has been quoted on menswear in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal,, Brides Magazine, and the Huffington Post. He lives in the woods north of Baltimore with his wife, Robin, kitties Nick and Nora, and German Shepherd/Collie mix Charlie.

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