Jacket lapels are the folded flaps of cloth on the front of a jacket or coat, and are most commonly found on formal clothing and suit jackets. Usually they are formed by folding over the front edges of the jacket or coat and sewing them to the collar, an extra piece of fabric around the back of the neck, as shown in the image.
There are three basic forms of lapels: notched, peaked and shawl. Notched lapels, the most common, are usually seen on business suits. Peaked lapels are more formal, and nearly always used on double breasted jackets or coats. Shawl, the least formal, is usually carried by dinner jackets.
The notched lapel (American English), step lapel or step collar (British English) is sewn to the collar at an angle, creating a step effect. This is the standard on single breasted suits, and is used on nearly all suit jackets, blazers, and sports jackets. The size of the notch can vary, and a small notch is called fishmouth.
The peaked lapel (American English), double breasted style lapel or pointed lapel (British English), is the most formal, featuring on double breasted jackets, and is now always worn with all formal coats such as a tailcoat or morning coat, and also commonly with a dinner jacket (both single and double breasted). In the late 1920s and 1930s, a design considered very stylish was the single breasted peaked lapel jacket, a feature carried into day clothing by the increasing popularity of the peaked dinner jacket This has gone in and out of vogue periodically, made popular once again during the 1970s by designers such as Armani, and is still a recognised alternative. The ability to properly cut peak lapels on a single-breasted suit is one of the most challenging tailoring tasks, even for very experienced tailors.
The shawl lapel, roll collar, or shawl collar is a continuous curve. Originally seen on the Victorian smoking jacket, it is now most common on the dinner jacket, or tuxedo. This similarly began as informal eveningwear, and was then made in both more and less formal versions, depending on the situation in which it was to be used.
"Trick" lapels encompass all other variations, such as the Nehru jacket, with no lapel.
Lapels have a buttonhole on the left, which is intended to hold a boutonnière, a decorative flower. These are now only commonly seen at more formal events. To hold the flower properly, a loop is fixed to the back of the lapel. For symmetry, double breasted suits often have a button hole on each lapel.
A lapel pin is also sometimes worn, and in punk fashion, the lapels of leather jackets are often adorned with various buttons and pins, usually sporting typical punk images and popular punk band logos.
The width of the lapel is a widely varying aspect of suits, and has changed widely over the years. Some designers maintain however that most stylish lapel width does not change, and that the lapel "should extend to just a fraction less than the halfway mark between the collar and shoulder line. The 1930s and 1970s featured an exceptionally wide lapel width, whereas during the late 1950s and most of the 1960s suits with very narrow lapels — often only about an inch wide — were in fashion. The 1980s saw mid-size lapels with a low gorge (the point where the jacket lapel and shirt collar meet). In the 2000s, trends were towards a narrower lapel and higher gorge.