Poll: What is your favourite type of lapel on a dinner jacket?

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James Bond’s dinner jackets—or tuxedos—have featured the three basic types of lapels:

Daniel-Craig-Peaked-LapelPeaked/Pointed/Double-Breasted Lapel: The most formal type of lapel, the peaked lapel is the standard on the double-breasted suit, the evening tailcoat and the morning coat. It can also be found on dressier single-breasted suits lounge suits. The peaked lapel was carried over from the formal evening tailcoat to the single-breasted dinner jacket. Sean Connery first wore this style on his ivory dinner jacket in Goldfinger, and Daniel Craig has most recently worn it on his black dinner jacket in Casino Royale.

Sean-Connery-Shawl-CollarShawl Collar: Combining the collar and the lapel into one continuous curve, the shawl collar is the dinner jacket’s original type of collar and comes from the smoking jacket. It’s marginally less dressy than the peaked lapel, but it’s perfect for the casino. Sean Connery introduced James Bond in his midnight blue shawl collar dinner jacket in Dr. No, and Daniel Craig continued with the midnight blue shawl collar dinner jackets in Quantum of Solace and Skyfall.

Sean-Connery-Notched-LapelNotched Lapel/Step Collar: The standard for the single-breasted lounge suit, the notched lapel is a less dressy option for dinner jackets. Some would even say it’s inappropriate for a dinner jacket, being too much like a standard lounge suit. It’s utilitarian: when made in classic proportions the notched lapel can be buttoned up in the cold. James Bond has worn dinner jackets with notched lapels on a number of occasions, and often those occasions are small, private affairs where the less formal style is suitable. Today the dinner jacket is rarely worn for these private affairs, making the notched lapel a less appropriate style for the dinner jacket. Many ready-to-wear notched lapel dinner jackets are simply black suits with satin facings and trimmings, and those should be avoided. Sean Connery introduced the notched lapel dinner jacket to the Bond series in Goldfinger, and Timothy Dalton last wore it in a low-gorge model in Licence to Kill.

When James Bond wears multiple dinner jackets in the same film they never have the same type of lapel. Diamonds Are Forever and The Living Daylights are the only Bond films to show Bond in three different dinner jackets, and in those films all three lapel styles are represented. Vote in the two polls below for your favourite type of lapel on the jacket on a dinner jacket, for both the black/midnight blue dinner jacket and white/ivory dinner jacket.

What's your favourite lapel type on a black/midnight blue dinner jacket?

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What's your favourite lapel type on a white/ivory dinner jacket?

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37 COMMENTS

  1. De rigueur, peaked or shawl lapels can only be worn with dinner jackets, notched lapels never. I believe they should also be single button, for single breasted, and without vents. Cummerbunds should always be worn!

  2. I think the shawl collar tuxedo is the best looking. The fact that it’s the one worn by Connery in his introduction sequence may have something to do with it though.
    Matt, you mentioned that many notch collar dinner jackets are just black suits with satin facings. Other than the facings and trimmings, what other factors would differentiate the dinner jacket with a lounge suit? I always thought the general shape of the jacket would be the same and pocket flaps can usually be tucked inside the pockets anyway.

    • When single-breasted it should button one, and these black suits with satin facings typically button two or three. Currently it’s mostly button two since the button three suit isn’t very popular anymore.

  3. While I do recognise the shawl lapel dinner jacket as being most respectful of the garment’s origins and development I have to say that I much prefer the notch or peak lapel variety. Can’t say why. Just aesthetics, I suppose. I do agree though that a one button jacket (if a single breasted jacket, obviously) is a must.

    Re; Diamonds are Forever; did the velvet jacket at the end of that movie have a shawl lapel? I hadn’t recalled that style featuring in the movie.

  4. Dear Matt,
    Thanks for this poll. Peak lapels have been my favourite since Goldfinger’s off white dinner jacket, and their most appreciated ‘revival’ in Goldeneye, after the abysmal level reached in License to Kill.
    Incidentally, I used the services of an Italian tailor to have midnight blue dinner jacket done, but also went one step further, asking for an ivory jacket . The result is very nice, and a decade later, I noticed they had put satin on the peaks. This never bothered me very much, as both the ivory + satin combination helps to distinguish you from a waiter’s attire (not to mention the cut, of course).
    I only actually noticed the satin’s very discreet presence while reading your blog. I assumed they should be ‘self-facing’. Would you consider this as a major faux-pas ?

    • I’ve only seen satin-faced lapels on cheap white dinner jackets. Traditionally the lapels are self-faced and the buttons are covered in the same cloth as the jacket, although mother-of-pearl is what the best examples of white dinner jackets have.

  5. I wonder if we will see a resurgence in the White dinner jacket sometime in the near future? I would love to see Bond wear it again.

  6. On a black/midnight blue jacket, I much prefer the shawl. I think it emphasizes an athletic, action hero look as well. I do not like peak lapels on this color dinner jacket. Can’t say why, I just don’t like the proportions. I get the rules about “no notch lapels” but that rule is obviously by the wayside and has been for decades. And I do think Roger’s Octopussy dinner jacket, notch lapels or not, is as perfect as it can get.

    • The notched lapel dinner jacket has been quite popular since the 1960s, and it was even around before then. However, style authors are still saying it’s inappropriate, and with good reason. I believe it’s a valid style, just suboptimal.

  7. Thanks to David Morefield for posting the missing link for Indiana Jones’ satin lapels. For some reason, the link that I pasted onto my post did not show up.
    Thanks to you I watched the Temple of Doom for the first time in 30 years.
    Actually, the dinner jacket looks quite neat, so there is no imminent need to call back the tailor.
    Actually, I remember the one worn by Peter Lorre in 1954’s CR version; it was not so bad either. Another example of the villain being better dressed than the hero. Sounds familiar to anyone ?
    Still, nothing compares to one worn by Orson Welles’ Le Chiffre in ’67.
    Maybe you would want to cover this character too ?

    • The link you sent was directly to a photo hosted on another site, and since that site doesn’t allow hotlinking it didn’t work. It’s best to always send links to the page where the image is found. I’ve been meaning to add a line about that in the comment area.

      I will cover Le Chiffre, all three of them!

    • Frankly, even if Orson Welles is a great actor, nobody can’t beat Peter Lorre’s -almost casual- elegance of wearing his off white double breasted dinner jacket as Le Chiffre.
      In this movie, it looks like it has satin facings on the lapels, but it’s hard to find pictures of good quality for this movie though.

  8. Matt, sorry to bother you, I have a question regarding the comments.
    Is it possible to arrange your blog so we could jump directly to new comments without having to scroll to find them? Member registration, perhaps.

  9. I’m not really a fan of peak lapels on regular lounge suits, but it’s the only type of lapel I’d want on my tuxedo. Although I haven’t had a chance to try on a shawl lapel jacket yet.

  10. I go through phases when it comes to many things in suits. There was once a time when I refused to ever wear a tweed jacket, now I have several. I’d never ever dream of tying four-in-hand, now I almost exclusively wear it. I thought the peak lapel was the bane of my existence (I was very dramatic) and now I’m having a suit made with them!

    So for now I’ll go with peak lapels on a dinner jacket, but who knows when I might swing round to shawl. My taste changes as much as Bond’s seems to from movie to movie!

  11. Great blog Matt!
    I’ve been reading it on a daily basis for years now even though this is my first comment.
    I have two dinner jackets: a navy with shawl collar (grosgrain lapels) similar to the Skyfall Tom Ford (but with double vents) and a midnight blue with peak lapels (satin).
    As a side note I have a similar complexion to Daniel Craig and it think that’s one of the main reasons why I didn’t get a black Dinner Jacket, not that flattering.
    I like them both but, even though I can use my shawl Dinner Jacket in a casual setting with a separate pants (kind of smoking jacket), I would definitely not use the peak lapel Dinner Jacket in a different event than Black Tie or other formal occasions.

  12. It has to be the peaked lapel. The notch lapel is a good, smart, functional look for a business suit, but a dinner suit is a bit more than a business suit. It should have a bit more dash and style, and given that the dinner suit is designed to be as flattering as possible to a man’s physique, the peaked lapel does the important job of making the shoulders look broader and creating the all-important “V” shape.

    Also, the fact that peaked lapels have been out of fashion on most other types of suit for some time now gives an extra layer of exclusivity to them when they appear on a tuxedo.

    I acknowledge the authenticity of the shawl collar but am not particularly fond of it on a tuxedo. I personally would favour a peaked lapel over a shawl collar in most circumstances, although for less formal black-tie events wearing a shawl collar jacket would show that you are a man with a good feel for evening wear and an adaptable wardrobe.

    I like the shawl collar better on a white tuxedo but for me, Sean Connery’s peaked lapel white tuxedo is an all-time classic, and the variety I would like to own when I get around to buying a white one. I wish white dinner jackets were more widely worn in Britain (in summer, naturally, not just at any time of the year), but as it is you will probably only ever see them worn by boys at high school dances trying to be different, and even then only very rarely.

    • Peaked lapels on lounge suits are actually very trendy in America right now, and Tom Ford is well-known for doing that style. I just saw Will Smith wearing a Tom Ford sports coat with peaked lapels on television on Monday night.

      The white dinner jacket is inappropriate in Britain at any time of year.

    • I prefer a shawl collar without a buttonhole, but if one wants to wear a flower it’s better to have a buttonhole than it is to pin the flower. Tom Ford seems to always put buttonholes in his shawl collars.

    • Thanks for that, Matt. As a follow up question, would you consider there to be any consensus on the “appropriateness” of wearing a flower with shawl collared jacket in general?

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