Suits and Lapels: What You Need to Know

If you have ever been shopping for a suit then I’m sure you have heard the sales professionals refer to “lapels” before. A lot of people don’t pay much attention to “lapels” because they’re just judging the suit by how it looks so they don’t worry about this little term. While you should absolutely purchase the suit that you feel looks the best, it is also important to realize that there are different lapels that are appropriate for different types of events. And, lapels do change the look of the suit, if you know what you are looking at.

So, what is a lapel? Once you know what a lapel is it will be much easier for you to understand the difference in the lapel types and the types of events each is designed for.

A quick search for “lapel” in Google pulls up the best definition, “the part on each side of a coat or jacket immediately below the collar that is folded back on either side of the front opening.”

In other words, the lapels are the folded flaps of material that you will find on suit and tuxedo jackets. Many feel that the lapels give the suit “personality” as many designers get creative and add patterns to their lapels.

Now that you know what the lapel is, we can talk about the three different kinds of suit and tuxedo lapels. They are:

  • Notch/Stepped Lapel: A notch lapel is just like it sounds. You will find a “notch” at the bottom of the collar where the top of the lapel meets it. Generally, the notch lapel is considered to be the most versatile as it is often found on suits, sports jackets and blazers. If you don’t attend many formal events and will only need a suit occasionally, then this is probably the lapel style that you want to purchase. It is commonly worn to semi-formal and casual events.
  • Peak Lapel: The peak lapel is easy to identify as the tip of the lapel is longer than a notch lapel and points upwards. This is a very distinguished look that is found on suits worn to formal weddings, black tie events and even some formal dinners. This particular type of lapel takes the most skill to create, therefore, they are generally more expensive than the notch lapel suits.
  • Shawl Lapel: The shawl lapel is the most distinguished lapel as it is mostly found on tuxedo jackets and reserved for the most formal events (think black/white-tie events, red carpet-like events and formal weddings). You will instantly know a shawl lapel by its round curves that are continuous, wrapping all the way around the back of the neck.

I know that it can be difficult to find the right suit for an upcoming event, but hopefully this article has helped you increase your knowledge about suits and how to determine which one you need for your upcoming event!

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