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How To Choose A Lapel Style For Your Suit Or Tux

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Choos­ing a suit or tux is hard enough (espe­cial­ly if it’s for your wed­ding), with­out the added stress of decod­ing lapels. Who knew there were so many lapel options? Us. We did. Lapel choice is one of the more chal­leng­ing aspects of rent­ing a suit, but luck­i­ly, we’re here to help. Once you under­stand the dif­fer­ences in lapel options, it’s easy to iden­ti­fy what you want and what you don’t. 

There are three com­mon types of lapels: Notch, Peak, and Shawl. The only rule as to which lapel you should go with is that, when it comes to your spe­cial day, you should wear what makes you feel good.  With so many lapel choic­es, let’s break it down to the basics. 

Suit Lapel Styles

Suit lapel styles usu­al­ly come in notch or peak, both of which are angu­lar and clas­sic. Think James Bond and George Clooney. While notch and peak are old favorites, that doesn’t make them any less suave or sexy than their younger broth­er, the soft­er, less angu­lar shawl lapel. A lot of fash­ion how-to comes down to tra­di­tion and aes­thet­ics. So, if you find a suit with the lapel you love, wear it.

groom in blue suit with bright boutonniere

Tuxedo Lapel Styles

While suit lapels are rel­a­tive­ly straight­for­ward, tuxe­do lapel choic­es can get a bit more com­pli­cat­ed. Most black tuxe­dos come in all three lapel options, leav­ing the choice and aes­thet­ic up to you. If you’re look­ing for a tuxe­do in any col­or oth­er than black, your lapel choic­es tend to be more restrict­ed. Some­times visu­als help, so if you want to see what a peak lapel tuxe­do looks like, just check out the Tom Ford tuxe­do that Neil Patrick Har­ris rocked in his wed­ding pho­tos. Look­ing for a shawl lapel image?  DeMar­cus Cousins mar­ried Mor­gan Lang in a chic Rich Fresh tux that fea­tured a gor­geous shawl lapel. Curi­ous about notch lapels? Check out the black Armani tuxe­do that George Clooney wore when he mar­ried Amal Ala­mud­din.

Each lapel look says some­thing a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent, so here’s a guide that will help you fig­ure out the best time and place for each option.

NOTCH LAPEL

See that inden­ta­tion in the lapel near the neck where the top of the col­lar and the bot­tom of the lapel join? That’s the “notch.” The depth and place­ment of the notch varies; how­ev­er, the point of the lapel will always face direct­ly away from the suit or tux’s open­ing. The notch is the most com­mon type of lapel, and for a good rea­son: it’s extreme­ly ver­sa­tile and looks great on every­thing from a linen suit to a tuxe­do. When in doubt, go for the notch!

When to wear a Notch Lapel

Wear a notch lapel when you need an under­stat­ed, clas­sic look. Notch lapel suits are a top choice for day­time and out­door wed­dings, as well as events that call for any dress code between busi­ness for­mal and cock­tail attire. How­ev­er, it’s easy to dress up this lapel style for more for­mal occa­sions with acces­sories like cuf­flinks and pock­et squares.

groom in blue suit

PEAK LAPEL

Peak lapels point upward at the seam and are tra­di­tion­al­ly more for­mal. They’re com­mon­ly used in tuxe­dos and morn­ing coats and tend to define the term “upscale occa­sion.”  While peak lapels were tra­di­tion­al­ly reserved for for­mal occa­sions, these days you will catch this lapel on a vari­ety of suits, includ­ing those for every­day wear. Despite their new­found use for every­day occa­sions, a per­fect­ly con­struct­ed peak lapel is still high­ly regard­ed and can be a bit more expen­sive, as they are the most dif­fi­cult to craft. Want to see this lapel in action? Check out Ryan Reynolds’ wed­ding pho­tos. He sport­ed a peak lapel as he said, “I do,” to Blake Live­ly.

When to wear a Peak Lapel

You can’t go wrong with a peak lapel at a black tie event. This is your chance to add some “James Bond” mys­tery and class to your next event. When you show up in a peak lapel, you’re going to feel as debonair and con­fi­dent as 007 him­self, so get your mar­ti­ni order ready. The peak lapel is also becom­ing increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar for wed­ding suits and tuxe­dos, espe­cial­ly for more for­mal affairs. Whether you’re get­ting hitched or attend­ing an extrav­a­gant work event, the peak lapel will posi­tion you as the lead­ing man (or woman!).

groom in black tuxedo

SHAWL LAPEL

The shawl lapel frames your face per­fect­ly with its ele­gant round­ed edges. The shawl is most com­mon­ly found on tuxe­dos and din­ner jackets—a clas­sic choice with a mod­ern edge. The shawl lapel is known to make a big impres­sion, just ask the Most Inter­est­ing Man in the World; he’s a big fan of this dash­ing look.

When to wear a Shawl Lapel

Wear a Shawl Lapel when you’re going for a more nos­tal­gic look and vin­tage vibe. This lapel choice is a great option when attend­ing for­mal events (such as red car­pet galas) or when host­ing a par­ty at home. If you’re plan­ning an evening wed­ding with a grand recep­tion, a shawl lapel could be your per­fect look. This lapel is sure to get heads turn­ing on your big day. 

Now that you’re a lapel expert, you’re ready to make the big deci­sion for your own look. With over 20 suit and tuxe­do styles and thou­sands of acces­so­ry options, Gen­er­a­tion Tux is here to help you find the per­fect look to make your wed­ding day extra­or­di­nary. Receive your rental 14 days before your event and rock the lapel of your choice with con­fi­dence.

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