Whether you’re an expert, or just starting out with your first suit, you can never know too much about lapels. These strips of fabric start just below the collar and adorn each side of the opening on the front of a blazer. Here is a simple and easy to follow guide on all your lapel options.
The truth is that lapels have no real function. Therefore you do have the option to ditch a lapel altogether. This provides a more relaxed and less formal look which works well for work at the office as well as a night out on the town.
While the no lapel look might not be the go to for job interviews and formal functions, for a modern woman it would work for the day to day in most office settings. If you plan on having only one suit, this option may not be for you, but a lady with multiple suits might want to consider this slightly different take on a traditional suit.
The most common and classic choice is the notched lapel. The lapel is sewn onto the collar at an angle creating a triangular opening where the bottom of the collar meets the top of the lapel. The notch lapel is also called the step lapel. Traditionally the notch lapel was ideal for single breasted blazers and jackets.
The size of the notch lapel can be customized to suit the individual. The skinny notch is thinner, trendier and works best with a slim suit. The wide notch tends to be more conservative and provide more coverage for a big-bust. Somewhere in between is the regular notch which may sacrifice a bit in the trendy department but makes up for it in versatility.
This lapel would be the best choice for those times when you want to look most professional. Job interviews, meetings, and anywhere that calls for business professional attire. This look means business.
The peak lapel is wider where it meets the collar and points upwards. These lapels tend to look more fashion forward and are flashier. Traditionally the peak lapel was considered more formal and almost always the lapel of choice for a double breasted blazer.
Much like the notch lapel, the peak can be worn as a regular peak or as the larger wide peak. This lapel style can create an elongating and slimming effect by moving the eyes upwards towards the shoulders. The peak lapel is often seen on pinstriped fabrics but works just as well on herringbone and solid colors.
This style is fun yet formal and works whenever you want to dress things up a bit. The peak lapel is appropriate for business or for leisure. It can be worn to the office, weddings, or formal events.
The shawl lapel is characterized by a smooth rounded edge. It is most commonly seen on a man’s tuxedo and is considered very formal in that regard. However when seen on a woman’s suit it can easily be dressed down to be more appropriate for a larger variety of settings.
This look is not generally recommended for women with a round face or body because the round shape of the lapel mimics and accentuates these features. People who don’t want to draw attention to these features are better off sticking to the angular lines of the peak or notch lapel.
Which lapel strikes your fancy?
Sierra E is a Los-Angeles based trial lawyer and entrepreneur. She became partner at her law firm in 2015 and has made numerous appearances as a guest legal correspondent on CNN. In 2018, Sierra launched SuitKits, an online shopping service that allows women to custom design suits and separates to fit their exact measurements, style, color and cut. Through her career, her writings, and her company, Sierra hopes to help women from all backgrounds achieve both personal and professional success for the benefit of themselves and their families. You can find her on Twitter/Facebook/IG @SuitKits