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 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.
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.
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.
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!).
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.Shop Tuxedos & SuitsMore Dress Tips