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Ideal Lapel Width for a Small Guy?

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    Ideal Lapel Width for a Small Guy?

    What’s the ideal lapel width for a smaller proportioned guy? (I wear 36S jackets and am 5’7”, weigh 125)

    This is subjective but I think the ideal lapel width, regardless of size, hits halfway to the shoulder. The exact width will vary depending on the cut of the suit. I also wear a 36S and for me that's approximately 3-3.25 inches.
    Last edited by Geo; December 17, 2020, 03:54 PM.


      Something to be aware of is that most quality suitmakers adjust the lapel width depending upon the size, with the advertised width typically applying to a 42 shoulder. Then smaller sizes get narrower lapels, and larger sizes wider. They're trying to keep the width proportional to the distance between neckline and shoulder, as Geo describes.

      The preferred proportion varies with fashion, but the 1/2 is the classic. A 3-3.5" lapel on a 42 will land in that area. Spier & Mackay are mostly on the higher end of that scale (they note lapels in the 4" range as wide) while Suit Supply is usually on the lower end (though they have some more varying jacket cuts).

      An extremely narrow lapel width such as was found on J.Crew's suits through the 2010s can work against the skinny guy, by emphasizing his size. Ideally, the lapel should guide the eye to the shoulder; the longer a line the eye follows the greater the seeming distance. A narrow lapel breaks the transition from chest to shoulder, shortening the line the eye follows. Similarly, skinny ties and miniature shirt collars do you no favours.

      People aren't actually that good at judging size. We tend to go more by relative measurements, and bias estimations towards the average or expected size. You can fool the brain by using clothing to bring your apparent proportions to those of the average.


        Henry Poole (assuming a notch lapel of course) cuts a 3-3/8 for 36 thru 44, and steps up or down from there depending.

        Peak you're free to play a bit more, but you want the outer peak to be slightly less than the inner.


          Precisely 3.1".

          Kidding of course...all joking aside, I've spent far, FAR too much time obsessing over suit lapels. How wide are they (a few years back slim sub-3" were in, now they seem to be widening), where does the gorge hit (used to be lower, now seem to be moving above the collar bone in many cases), how does it roll or crease, etc..

          At the end of the day, I think you have to try the jacket on, and just see if it looks and feels right to you. I've accumulated suits and sportcoats that range from 2.25" up to 3.75" or so, they all look fine in their own way, but all look different and have a different vibe. The current trend is clearly toward wider (3.5+, higher gorge) lapels, but that will swing back the other way in due time.

          If you're shooting for timeless, for a smaller frame I would say aim for 3"ish, or about half way between the break and shoulder, but don't stress on it too much if it differs a bit. Truth is, nobody is going to notice much besides you, and maybe crazy people like me!