How to choose the lapel style for your business suit

23rd October 2014
Katie Kwok

An executive with an exceptional business suit doesn’t just walk into a meeting room, he strides. You can’t help but notice that there’s something about the way the suit sits perfectly on his physical frame and all the proportions fit seamlessly. That’s the sign of a great bespoke tailored suit. One important bespoke detail that helps to add shape and character to great suits is the lapel style.

Lapels can be categorized as notch, peak or shawl. Since notch and peak lapels are favored for office suits and formal blazers, we will explain these in greater detail.

Notch lapels

Notch lapels are the most commonly chosen lapels for the standard business suit. A good tailor will be able to offer you some level of personalization in terms of width, length and shape of the notch lapel; from the more angled semi-notch and fish mouth notch lapels to the slightly more rounded and casual looking half clover or clover notch lapels. You can also choose the direction of the notch, whether it points downwards or upwards.

You will commonly find notch lapels on single-breasted suit jackets, blazers, sports jackets and winter coats.

Notch Lapel

Peak lapels

Peak lapels are the more formal of the two commonly used lapels. You tend to find peak labels on double breasted suits, dinner jackets or coats, and tuxedos. You can choose to make them more dramatic in style by making them wider and more angled.

One reminder about peak lapels is to thoughtfully choose where the peak is positioned on your chest. Ideally, peak labels should sit on your collar bone for a more polished look. A peak lapel that is positioned lower is also dramatic and more suited for business suits.

Peak Lapel

Choosing between the two

Which lapel you choose depends on your personal style. A nice contrast of notch and peak lapels can be seen on the suits worn by the lead actors in two popular American TV shows, Mad Men and Suits.

In deciding on the lapel for your next bespoke tailored suit, you may wish to consider the following:

1. Formality / profession

Notch lapels are more flexible in that they look great on both formal or less formal suits. You would choose only notch lapels for your casual jackets.

Peak lapels naturally convey a more formal look and look great on the suit for your next high-powered business meeting with the president of the company or important clients.

2. Body shape

Notch lapels tend to look better on slimmer suits for lankier gentlemen. Peak lapels work better for heavier set men, particularly if the peak is higher on the suit and more dramatic, as it brings attention to the face.

3. Your wardrobe

Standard notch lapels are more versatile and are less affected by fashion trends. If you choose to have a wardrobe that is perennial, then you should choose standard notch lapels. If you are more courageous in your business wear and like to make a statement at work, choose a selection of both notch and peak lapels for your business suits. What you wear to work need not be boring.