Know Your Suit! Notched Lapel vs Peaked Lapel

Know your suit! Peaked vs. Notched lapels

If you’re like most men, you pick your suit based on how it looks and how it fits. You know what you like, and you know what feels good, but that is about as far as many of us ever go. In truth, it is not necessary to know all of the how’s and they why’s and the what’s that go into the makeup of what you wear. After all, there are people who make a career out of worrying about this sort of thing so that you don’t have to. But remaining completely ignorant of what you put on your back is akin to knowing nothing about the car you drive. Unacceptable! Any self respecting man ought to be able to open his hood and explain the basics of how the internal combustion engine works. The same should be true for one’s attire.

I am not saying that a man should tailor his own cloths or know the ins and outs of bolts of cloth, but being able to tell a tailor what you want in how you dress will not only gain you a knowing smile and a nod, but also make the entire process of bespoke clothing far more enjoyable and simple.

Volumes could be written on the intricacies and nuances of a well cut suit. I will not bore you with such a tome. Instead, I’ll offer a few pieces of information to keep you informed, possibly adding on at various intervals to keep things interesting. We can begin with what is often the first thing noticed about a suit, yet rarely actually noted: The lapels.

There are two major types of lapels that one typically sees on a suit, the Notched lapel and the peaked lapel. Sartorial purists will note that I am omitting a shawl collar. Though a smooth, and clean look, the shawl collar is far more prevalent on tuxedos, and only very rarely on a suit or sport coat. As such, it is not germane to this discussion.

A lapel is notched when its line is broken by a deep V cut into the side. These are identical on each side, and usually around a third of the way down the lapel.


Notched Lapel

A peak, on the other hand, does not offer a smooth line, and contains a cut in the fabric where a barb or peak points upward from the lapel. These types of lapels were far more common back in the day than they are now, but they add an air of formality to a suit.

Peaked lapel


Upon inspection – because yes, I had to look – every suit in my closet has a notched lapel. This is the standard, go-to cut of a suit these days, and while you don’t have to go out of your way to find a peaked lapel, they are much less common. A peaked lapel is a throwback to the days of the wider collars, and can be seen adorning some double breasted suits. This could serve well to an add an old fashioned or classic flair to your attire. They are just as likely to be found on a tuxedo jacket as a shawl or notched collar, and the ridged lines of a peaked may be exactly what you’re looking for.

Wear what is right for you, but know what you wear, and why.


About thegentlemanandscholar

Southern Gentleman transplanted to southern California. I like a good whiskey, wine, or cigar, and try to enjoy the finer things in life. I am a veteran, a writer, a soldier, a businessman, a student, and a sartorialist.
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