3 Different Types of Lapels to Know

Notch vs. Peak vs. Shawl Lapel

Image via Suits Expert

Okay, so what is a lapel? And why does it matter so much when considering your style? What are the types of lapels? And why should you care? Let’s cut to the chase – lapel choice can make or break your formal wear style. So you need to make sure that your choice of lapel compliments the occasion, the garment (suit vs. tuxedo), and your personal style needs. 

Lapels are the folded flaps of cloth on the front of a jacket or coat below the collar and are most commonly found on formal clothing and suit jackets. And there are 3 different types of lapels that you have to know before you choose your formalwear. Read on to find out about the different types of lapels & when they are appropriate for your formalwear. 

Notch Lapel

This is the ultimate lapel. It is probably what you picture when we say ‘Lapel.’ It’s the most common type of lapel on suits and in everyday fashion in the modern era. It’s also the safest choice in a lapel style that you can choose for a suit or tuxedo. It just looks good, and we think it always will. But it is a bit less formal than other lapel choices, so be careful about the occasions when you opt for a notch lapel.

Major differences: A notch lapel (in today’s fashion) is about two & a half to three inches wide. Today, a notch lapel is typically featured as a skinny lapel. It will almost always be in the same facing fabric as the rest of the suit, as opposed to a shawl or peak lapel that can feature a satin facing or a satin trimming. Notch lapels are defined by the straight stitch that connects the collar of the suit jacket to the lapel. Unlike a peak lapel, notch lapels do not feature a defined point of the design and fabric. Traditionally, notch lapels only appear on single-breasted suits.

Our Take: You can’t go wrong with a notch lapel on a suit or tuxedo. In fact, all the suits that we carry offer a notch lapel. Shop our suit collection now. They are also very acceptable for a tuxedo, but definitely not the classic look for a tux, and are not the most common style. If you’re going for a more formal look, we recommend opting for a peak or shawl lapel for a classic design and style.

Peak Lapel

Let’s be honest: Peak lapels are just cool. They add a flare to your look and style that cannot be understated. Although they were not usually featured on classic black-tie tuxedos, peak lapels have started to creep into men’s formalwear fashion in recent years. And we’re here for it.  

Major Differences: A peak lapel is usually shown as a wide lapel, anywhere above 4 inches wide. It showcases a point (think of it as an arrow pointing towards the shoulders of a jacket) of the fabric that connects to the collar. This style lends itself to a more formal look. Peak lapels can be featured on single and double-breasted jackets and can be seen with suits and tuxedos. However, peak lapels are exclusively featured when a jacket is double-breasted. 

Our Take: We love a peak lapel but caution you on how and when to utilize them. Wearing a double-breasted suit with a fashionable fabric and peak lapel provides a strong and classic style. We also think peak lapels can look great with certain tuxedos. But this is not the traditional look, so if you’re timider with your style choices, we recommend opting for the more traditional shawl lapel. 

Shawl Lapel

A shawl lapel combines the lapel and collar into one element. They have a rounded, soft edge almost exclusively reserved for a tuxedo. 

Major Differences: With a shawl lapel, there is no separation between the collar and the lapel. They always feature a different facing compared to the tuxedo fabric, usually a complimentary satin fabric. You can find suits out there that features a shawl lapel, but we do not recommend this look. Remember, the shawl lapel is reserved for very formal occasions and usually on tuxedos only. 

Our Take: Shawl lapels look GREAT for formal occasions. So, if it’s your wedding or you’re headed to a black-tie affair, you cannot go wrong with a shawl lapel. Just make sure the rest of your style reflects the formality of your lapel and tuxedo jacket. 


A sweet spot for lapel length is about 3 to 3 & a half inches wide. This fits a classic and timeless look.

If you’re a shorter guy, look for a suit or a tuxedo that features the gorge of the collar higher up on the jacket. Also, if you want to make your shoulders look a little wider, we recommend opting for a wider peak lapel to create the optimal fit. 

If you’re a bigger, portly guy, we recommend shying away from the shawl lapel design. Especially if you have a more rounded face, the shawl lapel will accentuate that trait. So, instead, opt for a tuxedo with a peak lapel to compliment your face shape. 

Shop our collection to find the perfect suit or tuxedo with the appropriate lapel for your special occasion. For more tips on the 3 different types of lapels, check out this video.