Contrary to what some fashion novices may believe, not all suits and tuxedos are created equal; and when deciding which suit to wear, suit lapel styles are a key factor. As a rule of thumb, the width of a lapel should correlate with a man’s size. That is, slimmer men should select a narrower lapel, while larger gents can pull off a wider version. With three basic types to choose from – peaked, shawl, and notched – a lapel is much more than a piece of folded material.
The Peaked Lapel
The peaked lapel is the perfect way to dress up a suit. This cut features lapel edges that point upwards towards the shoulders, giving men a lengthening effect that is perfect for those who are looking to appear taller and/or slimmer. In fact, a dark suit with pinstripes, a peaked lapel and an edged pocket square is a fail-proof ensemble for larger men.
With an angular appearance, it’s also the ideal choice for formal events, as it creates quite the fashion statement (think Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Great Gatsby”). Choose a lapel that it just wide enough to make a bold impression, but not so wide that it overpowers the man in the suit.
The Shawl Lapel
The shawl lapel is characterized by one continuous curve of fabric, without any points or breaks, and is typically found on tuxedos and dinner jackets. Traditionally, this shape has been reserved for black-tie affairs and galas; but some of today’s designers have been pairing it with casual jackets, creating a more modern version of the style.
Most men can wear a shawl lapel, but it should be avoided by anyone with a round face or body type. The curve of the lapel will only accentuate the curves in the face, so a peaked or notched variety would be a better choice.
The Notched Lapel
Universally flattering, the notched lapel can be found on everyday blazers and sport coats. It features a notch where the lapel meets the collar at a 75-90 degree angle, and is the most versatile out of the three styles. Easily dressed up or down, the notched lapel is a man’s version of the little black dress – it looks fantastic on men of all shapes and sizes, and easily transitions between day and night.
About the author: Lauren Malamala is a New York City-based writer and musician with an International Business degree from Richmond, the American International University in London. She currently works for a luxury bridal publication, and is a regular contributor to several online magazines and blogs.
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