The trend pendulum is always swinging back and forth. Some trends stay around for a long time while others leave shortly after arriving. Arguably, no other trend is more noticeable in men’s jacket tailoring than the jacket lapel width. For this reason we've kept our current line of suits moderate in width.
In trying to keep this simple, let’s divide our lapel widths into three categories: skinny, regular, and wide.
Over the last few years skinny lapels have been all the rage here in the United States. And thanks to popularized media, (ahem..GQ) they still seem to be the width of choice among most guys under 35. Generally around 2-2.75”, these lapels are definitely slimming. Slim lapels flatter the slimmer body type by adding to the already slim nature of the wearer’s appearance.
Despite their ever lingering popularity the reality is it is a trend that has already begun to shift. Now, that doesn’t mean slim lapels will suddenly be out of style. In fact, they will always be in style for the smaller, slim guy who meets the same proportions. It’s just for the average sized or large guy that should try and adapt his lapel width to his body’s proportion. It’s for these guys that the pendulum shift to wider lapels is more important.
Timeless and classic. This is the lapel width that will never appear out of style. Lapels of regular width tend to measure around 3-3.5” at their widest point, so not too skinny or too wide. This is the lapel width that most off-the-rack jackets are made with which is why it’s the most recognized width out there. Here's a great example of a 3.5" notch lapel paired with a waistcoat.
The biggest benefit to wearing regular lapels is never looking out of style. Second to that, not having to fork out more money to update your suit wardrobe to keep up with the current trends is an added bonus. Remember, regular sized lapels have been around since the dawn of suiting and will continue forever.
Within the last couple years the pendulum shift to wider lapels has become more and more prevalent. With major fashion houses across the globe setting the trend the media is starting to take notice. The trend has seemed to be taking longer to catch on here in the United States, but appears full swing in Europe. While Pitti Uomo always has a bit of everything, the latest show in last June seemed to show the ever-widening lapel. Arguably, much of the popular images that comes from Pitti Uomo are of bespoke tailored jackets which tend to have wider lapels simply due to the art of bespoke tailoring which loves the gradual roll of a wide lapel.
The classic rule states that wide lapels are better suited for men of larger stature. There’s no question that this is good rule to follow, but this shouldn’t mean that smaller statured men should avoid wide lapels. In fact, opting for a larger lapel, especially a peak lapel, can add a lot of dimension and size to the overall appearance. For the smaller guy who wants to appear a bit more dominant despite their non-imposing stature, a wide lapel can work wonders.
One last quick tip- in deciding to go slim, regular, or wide, be sure to consider your shirt collar and tie width. While it isn’t terrible to neglect this rule there’s no question that there is real beauty that comes from keeping all three in sync. If skinny, keep the shirt collar and tie skinny. If wide, keep the shirt collar tall and the tie wide. If you’re a regular width kind of guy keep the other two regular in width as well.
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