Notch vs Peak vs Shawl Lapels

What’s a notch, peak and shawl lapel? Does it matter? In this article, we go through what a notch, peak and shawl lapel are and how you can use them to up your style.

The Lapel

When you wear a jacket, a suit coat or a blazer, there’s a piece of cloth that folds over your neck, shoulders and chest. The part around your neck is the collar (the idea comes from the military where you could flip the collar up to protect your neck from high winds). The part draping from your collar to your buttons is the lapel. And, the point at which they meet is the gorge.

By Zedlander – [1], CC BY-SA 4.0.

The collar and lapel are important because they contribute to the overall fashion sense of the jacket you’re wearing. For example, are you representing a more conservative look, something to make heads turn or something to soften your handsomely sharp features? Each lapel serves a purpose.

Types of lapels

There are 3 types of lapels:

  • Notch
  • Peak
  • Shawl

Notch Lapels

A notch lapel (or step collar in England) is a more conservative, all-around lapel that fits most work and casual occasions and body types. You have a notch lapel when the gorge forms a step.

By Zedlander – [1], CC BY-SA 4.0.
  • Notch lapels are good for almost all suits except tuxedos and double breasted jackets (refer here).
  • They are good for everyday business or casual wear.
  • Finally, they fit most body types (refer here).

Peak Lapels

A peak lapel (or point lapel in England) is a more striking lapel that really turns heads. It’s good for more elevated occasions or for anybody wanting to elevate their everyday look. A peak lapel is a collar and lapel where the lapel flares up and away from the collar. The gorge is usually very narrow.

By Zedlander, CC BY-SA 4.0.
  • Peak lapels are good for tuxedos, pin stripes and double breasted jackets (refer here).
  • They are good for more formal occasions such as weddings, formal dinners and black tie events, however they can be worn for work (refer here).
  • Finally, they fit most body types. If someone wants the appearance of added height or wants to accentuate their height, peak lapels serve that purpose as well as they direct the eyes towards the shoulders. Further, if you have a round face or body, the sharp angularity of peak lapels will help break the flow (refer here).

Shawl Lapels

A shawl lapel is for very formal occasions. Shawl lapels are a collar and lapel where there is no gorge. It’s just one rounded piece.

By Zedlander, CC BY-SA 3.0.
  • Shawl lapels are good for tuxedoes and morning coats (refer here).
  • They are good for very formal occasions. Obviously wedding and black tie events, but also galas and state dinners (refer here).
  • Finally, they fit most body types. However, if you have rounded features, it might be better to use a peak lapel (refer here).

Lapel widths

Lapels widths have been changing for decades. In some decades, they’re wide, in others they’re narrow. The standard width, if you need a bench mark, is 3 3/8 ” (8.6 cm) at the widest point. As a general rule, choose what makes you look best.

  • If you’re thinner, go for a narrow lapel
  • Wider? Try a wider lapel.
  • Using a slimmer tie or a slim fit suit, stick with a slimmer lapel