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The Compass  /  Style  /  Peak Lapels Can’t Lose

Peak Lapels Can’t Lose

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Lapels, those flaps on the front of your suit jackets, are purely decorative. Like your appendix, you’d be fine without them. But like your appendix, when things go wrong with your lapels, they can kill you. Well, OK, they can’t kill you, but they can kill your look. But don’t worry, if you’re concerned about your lapels being hazardous to your style health, we’ve got four words for you: peak lapels can’t lose.

Mention peak lapels and we’re reminded of the short-lived, teen sitcom from the 90s, Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. Why? Because when you choose peak lapels for your jacket, like the title character with the same initials, you can’t lose. The OGs of lapels peak lapels always come through in the end.

At once classic and modern, peak lapels can be dressy or casual, low-key or high-powered, and that’s why, if you know nothing else about suits and blazers, you should know about peak lapels.

Don’t worry, though, lapels are pretty simple. Once you know how they work and why peak lapels, in particular, are so versatile, you’ll easily navigate the world of lapels.


What are peak lapels?

For some of you, this may seem like a basic question. But before you go all G&T kid in the remedial class on us and skip ahead, stick around, because even if you know what a lapel is, you might learn something new here.

Peak-Lapel

Webster’s defines the word lapel as “either of the front parts of a coat, jacket, etc. folded back on the chest, forming a continuation of the collar.”

The root word, lap, just refers to things made by folding something. Go from standing to sitting and you’ve folded your body to create a lap. Take a straight race course and fold it back on itself so that the start line and the finish line meet and you’ve got a lap.

So lapel, the diminutive of lap, essentially means a small fold. But this small fold can have a huge impact on your style. So let’s dive into its uses, starting with the most iconic peak lapel there is (so iconic we named our company after it) the black peak lapel found on a tuxedo.


What is a peak lapel tuxedo?

Black-Mohair-Tux

You may have heard tuxedos referred to this way and wondered why lapels get naming rights in tuxedos. Why isn’t it called a one button tuxedo or a cuffless pants tuxedo or some other defining feature of a tux? The lapel gets special attention because there are options when it comes to lapels. Unlike those other defining features that have only one option (a tuxedo, according to tradition, always has a one-button jacket and cuffless pants) there are two options for tuxedo lapels.

Both a peak lapel and a shawl lapel are acceptable choices. Notch lapels are not appropriate for a tuxedo. This is important. If someone tries to sell you a notch lapel tuxedo, they either don’t know enough about black tie for you to trust their advice, or they’re trying to pull a fast one on you. In either case, that should be the end of your conversation with them.

While a shawl lapel on a tuxedo jacket (known as a dinner jacket) is a rakish choice that we recommend for non-black dinner jackets, you can’t go wrong with the classic, and formal, look of peak lapels on a black dinner jacket.

But we don’t want you thinking the peak lapel is just for a tuxedo. After all, we started off by saying it’s a universally stylish option. So even if you don’t go around hitting up black tie affairs on the regular (And really, who does?), you can make use of the power of the peaks.


Who should wear peak lapels?

You’re expecting us to say “everybody,” aren’t you? Well, yes, everybody can wear peak lapels. But especially if you are hoping to slim your frame, then you should embrace the swooping lines of a peak lapel. The peak lapel creates a more defined V-shape in the front of your jacket. This shape works as an optical illusion, making your body look more V-shaped as the lapels taper down at the midsection.

And speaking of optical illusions, shorter gents are also aided by peak lapels. The elongating effect of the peak helps to stretch you out visually.

“if you are hoping to slim your frame, then you should embrace the swooping lines of a peak lapel. The peak lapel creates a more defined V-shape in the front of your jacket.”

So if you’ve been picking up what we’ve been putting down so far, you may be wondering how peak lapels are worn.


How to wear a peak lapel suit

As you might have guessed from their association with tuxedos, peak lapels are more formal than other lapel types, so we recommend peak lapels on your power suits but you knew that. What you might not have heard about is how sharp a peak lapel can look on a more laid-back blazer. This may sound unorthodox but it works, especially on more fashion-forward looks like one button blazers.

“We recommend peak lapels on your power suits…What you might not have heard about is how sharp a peak lapel can look on a more laid-back blazer.”

We’ve shown you how peak lapel suits look, and how peak lapel tuxedos look, we’ve even shown you how peak lapel blazers look. So you know how to wear them, but you may still be wondering when to wear them.


When to wear peak lapels

We’ve established that peak lapels connote formality. That’s why they’re the number one choice for a classic black tux. So think of them as your go-to choice for dressy events when you’re putting on a suit.

Examples of when to wear a peak lapel suit

  • You’re going to a wedding with a “Cocktail Attire” or “Semi-Formal” dress code.
  • You’re doing some public speaking (whether you’re delivering a speech to hundreds or a presentation to your executive team).
  • Anytime you want a dose of fabric courage (the liquid kind can be found at your local bar).

When are peak lapels appropriate?

The unwritten rule of menswear is that you always match peak lapels with double-breasted jackets. The swooping lines of the crossing chest panels look too stubby when the lapel only extends to the notch at the collar.

When else are peak lapels appropriate? Peak lapels are the perfect antidote for timidity and so we like them with any suit that packs a little punch. Try them on any suit with stripes, for example, to give your look that extra edge.

As we mentioned above, peak lapels aren’t just appropriate for suits. A peak lapel on a blazer can give your look just the right amount of formality to complete an otherwise, casual look.

Hudson-Navy-Windowpane

And peak lapels aren’t just good for suits and sport jackets. Peak lapels add punch to a topcoat too. The same rules apply to the double-breasted topcoat as they do for any double-breasted jacket: Peak lapels only (as pictured here). But peak lapels can be applied to a single-breasted topcoat to give your look a bit of added oomph also.

Brown-Herringbone-DB-Overcoat

Where to buy a peak lapel suit

We’ve been referring to the choice of lapel types throughout this article and, we hope, we’ve given you everything you need to make an informed decision. But if you’ve ever shopped for a suit at a department store or a menswear shop before, you know that the choice of lapels is not usually yours. Your choices are limited to what’s on the rack and that was decided long before the suit was made. But there is a way to take back control.

Custom suits let you hand pick the type of lapel you’d like. So you can combine any fabric choice you want with peak lapels (and whatever other design features you like) for the ultimate personalized style.

Getting a suit custom made used to be something reserved for the rich and famous but today custom suits are often better priced than off-the-rack suits of the same quality. When you consider that custom also means custom fitted to you and tailoring is included in the price, you’ll see that you get the most bang for your buck with a custom suit.

So when you’re ready to get your next suit and you want to choose things like peak lapels without sacrificing control of the fabric or design or fit, the choice is clear, it’s time to try custom suits.


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