Do you need a peaked lapel jacket?
Although peaked lapel jackets have seen a bit of a resurgence in popularity in recent years, they are still relatively difficult to find in many menswear stores. In our business, around 40% of our suit and sportcoat sales are in a peaked lapel style. And it’s growing.
If you need a refresher on notched or peaked lapels, here’s an article I wrote a while back on the subject. In that post, I really focused on the differences between the two styles, but today, I want to dive a little deeper into the peaked style itself.
To help you feel grounded with lapels in general, I need to provide a little context. What has happened over roughly the past 5 years is that lapels are getting a little wider. What we are seeing is a little bit of a rebound from the “skinny suits” trend that was very much a 1960s resurgence. The backbone of which was in no small part derived from the AMC television show Mad Men. Retailers responded and everyone from Banana Republic to Hugo Boss was slimming down their suits, ties, and lapels.
While I think that this prompted some necessary corrections to the fit of men’s suits, it also made them a little boring. But that’s all beginning to change, albeit slowly.
I think it’s an exciting time right now because while we are keeping our emphasis on a nice modern and tailored fit, it’s growing more acceptable to play with a bold look with that wider lapel. And when your lapel grows wider, I personally think it looks better in a peaked style. It’s a very masculine look and accentuates the V-shape that has always been so dominant in menswear.
The big thing to understand about the peaked lapel, regardless of its width, is that it is going to be more formal. This is because historically, a peaked lapel was found on formalwear like tuxedos and double breasted suits. When things started to move towards the single breasted style, the peaked lapel was reserved for more formal occasions and we saw the notched lapel more frequently. Consequently, with a peaked lapel jacket, you may want to think twice about dressing it down. Pairing a sport coat with jeans becomes a challenge. Even dressing open collar can be tough.
And remember, everything about fitting and styling a suit is all about proportion. Those lapels can’t get too wide without making other accommodations. Part of the reason those giant lapels of the 70s worked is that the rest of the suit was big too, is some cases really big! Should you decide to sartorially lean forward and try a wider peaked lapel – and you wear a neck tie – bear in mind that your tie needs to widen too. No skinny ties for you, sir. It’s all about matching the proportion.
I hope this gives you a little more to think about when building your next suit. Peaked lapels are indeed more formal than notched and although the trend may be towards a wider lapel, it certainly doesn’t mean that you need to come along for the ride. With bespoke, it is – and always will be – up to you. Your clothier will guide you as much or as little as you like. Trend or no trend, wear what makes you feel good.
By Ryan Wagner