Roll out the Lapel!

The lapel of a well-styled suit should extend to just a fraction less than the halfway mark between the collar and shoulder line. In general, this size means a width of approximately 3 1/2 inches, thus honouring the main principle of classic tailoring.

- Alan Flusser
Three different sized gents all with perfect lapel sizes to suit, image courtesy of Liverano & Liverano

This is something that needs attention, even though it may land me in hot water with most Australian menswear brands:

- What's the origin of the jacket lapel?
- Exactly what size should a jacket lapel be? 
- What's its purpose? 
- Will it suit me? 

I have been asked the above four questions countless times and with the abundance of tiny lapels on the market here in Australia, I sometimes wonder if designers even know the correct answers.

The most common style, or "notched" lapel, was originally found in jackets that buttoned up to the neck, the lapel formed by simply unbuttoning and turning back the upper part of the closure at an angle. As you can imagine, this was most common in hotter climates or while being worn indoors.


Traditional smoking jacket

What's the purpose of the lapel now days?
The purpose of the jacket lapel is to draw the eyes up towards the wearers face and frame it. With a peak lapel this framing can accentuate the "V" shape of a gentleman's physique and shoulders, whilst adding a little more flair. A shawl collar offers a relaxed look with slightly rounder edges, most commonly seen on smoking jackets, bathrobes and dressing gowns. 


What size should a lapel be?


As my quote from Alan Flusser suggests, it should sit almost halfway between the roll of the lapel and shoulder. If the lapel is too small it will make the body look larger, which is great for the skinny or slender man wanting to add bulk, but is best avoided by larger guys. Just like the rest of your suit, lapels should always be in proportion.



Bigger gent with small lapel, you can't help but focus on his size.

Jeremy Hackett with a smaller than standard lapel.


Hackett wearing a larger lapel (standard size) which gives him better proportions.

By now the answer to the question, "What size should MY lapel be?" should be relatively easy. Just keep in mind that you lapel should end somewhere between the half way lapel roll and the shoulder, or if you're slender and want to look bigger, take two to two and a half centimetres off that measurement - I hope this sheds some light and helps clear up confusion.

Happy New Year everyone, I hope that all of my readers have an amazing and healthy 2015.