Notched Lapels, Peaked Lapels, Shawl Lapels

Notch Lapel - Peak Lapel - Shawl Lapel

Jackets come with notched lapels, peaked lapels, and shawl lapels. Notched lapels are the least formal. Peaked lapels are dressier. Shawl lapels are almost always seen on tuxedos.


The notched lapel is the standard. Most off the rack suits feature a notched lapel, but that does not make the notched lapel any less classic. The slimmer the lapel the more subtle the notch. Wide lapels call for more creative notches.


In the movie of the Great Gatsby, Gatsby, sets himself apart from his posh neighbors by wearing peaked lapels.  Hefty or short men stand to gain from wearing peaked lapels, which have a heightening, slimming effect, but dressing down the peaked lapel is rather difficult.


The shawl lapel is rarely seen off of tuxedo dinner jackets. They are rounded instead of pointed, and usually skinnier than common lapel types. Wearing a shawl lapel would make you stick out anywhere other than a wedding, awards ceremony, prom, or opera--unless you are Hugh Hefner, who wears shawl lapels morning, afternoon, and night.


Lapels are made by folding the front edges of a jacket. Sewing these edges onto the collar, and cutting a button hole under the left lapel notch. When giant lapels were in style, jackets came with buttons sewed onto the right lapel, so you could button up against the elements.

The lapel buttonhole has stuck around for the sake of the boutonniere (a flower arrangement) and the American flag pin--few other nationalities actually rock flags on their lapels. Note that like your pockets your lapel buttonhole may come sewed shut to help maintain the jacket’s cut. Feel free to cut it open, but be careful!