When buying any suit, especially a custom suit, you’ll be faced with the option of Notch vs Peak lapels. What’s the difference and why should you care?
A notch lapel literally looks like a notch was cut out of the lapel (as per the photo below).
A peak lapel looks like a mountain peak coming to a point directing up and to your shoulders (as per the Mick Jagger suit below — I’ve got suits like Jagger).
Lapel Rule of Thumb
Rule of thumb is that notch is business oriented and peaks add flair and formality. Going more in-depth, think about the shape that’s created with the lapels. Notches focus on the “negative” space bringing the focus of the suit inwards to your centre. Look at Jimmy Carr’s suit. The vest gives him a beautiful teardrop shape to frame his face and gives the perception of a broader chest (and is great if you have a shorter neck). The notch lapels also accentuate the chest over the shoulders. Peak lapels draw the eyes to the shoulders giving the perception of broader shoulders and contributing to a V shape.
Lapel widths vary based on what’s in vogue. In the 70’s the extra wide lapels were wildly popular. In the 00’s and 10’s they got skinny. For a classic look opt for a lapel width that fits with your body shape. Too thin and the lapel leaves too much negative space making you look wider. Having lapels that are too wide can make you look disproportionate. A good custom suit tailor can help guide you on the right lapel width.
Generally speaking, I see notches looking best on men with sloped shoulders and peaks working best on men with higher shoulders. That’s not to say you can’t or shouldn’t wear peaks if you have sloped shoulders. It will just have a nuanced difference than someone with higher shoulders. Width’s of lapels depend on your body type unless you’re following the latest trend. For a timeless classic suit, work with your custom suit tailor, bespoke tailor, or made-to-measure tailor to get the best fit for you.