Single Breasted Peak Lapel

Last month, I discussed a particular single breasted peak lapel suit as worn by Robert Downey, Jr. in the film Captain America: Civil War. This week I will touch on the style in general.

Farley Granger and James Stewart in single breasted peak lapel suits typical of the 1940s, featuring three buttons and rather heavy suitings by today's standards. Current "SBPL" suits generally have two buttons, narrower lapels, and lighter fabrics in comparison.

Single breasted peak lapel jackets have seen a bit of a renaissance. They're easier to find than the double breasted now. However, most appear to have more in common with the mod or continental suits of the 1960s, such as those made by Express and their ilk, rather than Tom Ford's 1940s-inspired "Windsor" model. (Despite that he may be responsible for bringing it back into fashion again.) As with the double breasted, it is best to get medium to wide peak lapels. Otherwise, it follows the same guidelines as its notch lapel cousin in almost every respect.

Reggie Bush wearing Tom Ford's signature "Windsor" suit: Two buttons, wide peak lapels, ticket pocket.

The single breasted peak lapel suit is best suited for social gatherings or night events that stop short of requiring black tie, but that doesn't mean it is restricted to them. A number of people seem to be wearing them to work. But like the double breasted suit, it is best to gauge its suitability or put in some time at that job before trying it. For example, a managing partner at a law firm with more liberal attitudes towards dressing can get away with it, while the junior partner at a more conservatively-dressed law firm should probably stick to notch lapels.


Eli of "North of Man" models a more modern take on the style from Black Lapel. These medium width peak lapels are still pretty balanced. Narrower than this should generally be avoided.


As stated before, pretty much everything else follows the same rules as an ordinary single breasted notch lapel. They can have two buttons, three buttons with lapels rolled to the second, or even one button to be especially rakish. A "true" three button that rolls to the top is rare these days with peak or notch lapels, but is still stylish when done correctly. However, I personally prefer double vents rather than a single vent. The reason being that the single vent seems a little too informal with the more elegant peak lapels.

It would be remiss not to show work from one of the tailoring houses which influenced Tom Ford, Chittleborough & Morgan. Pictured here is their cutter Michael Browne wearing one of his creations.


Peak lapels are sometimes called "double breasted lapels" due to their origin on that jacket style. They are also commonly seen on single breasted dinner jackets and are considered the most formal lapel style for black tie, above the notch lapel and shawl collar. There are some sport coats (or even sport suits) made with peaks, but unlike with a worsted city suit it's easy to look out of place when married to a more casual fabric like tweed or cotton. Tread carefully and stick to smaller patterns if you must.

Another Tom Ford piece. This works pretty well since blazers are the most formal variant of sport coat.


In contrast, peak lapels look a little out of touch with the natural shoulders, three patch pockets, and casual windowpane fabric combined on this sport coat. (To say nothing of the polo shirt worn underneath!)


What do you think of single breasted peak lapel jackets and suits? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Comments

  1. Love that lapel roll on the suits from "Rope" (great little movie too). If you're going to wear a high roll three button, that's how to do it. Is Farley's suit red or burgundy or something?

    Reggie's suit is cool but he should unfasten the bottom vest button and cut down on the all-gray look. Lavender shirt would look good on his complexion.

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    1. Agreed on all counts. I think Farley Granger's suit is warm brown and the tie is burgundy, which brings out the red tones. I may be wrong.

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  2. Why not just call them peak lapel suits? Saying single breasted peak lapel is a bit long all the time.

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    1. Because double breasted suits also have peak lapels. It is a good distinction to make.

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  3. Well the style is fine but two of these examples are just awful. Like the overtight skye blue suit (what is that, oxford cloth?) and the hip hop guy with all the "bling". I don't know why a tailor like them would want to show off their work in that kind of manner.

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    1. That suit is rather slim and light blue for my liking, but the lapels are a good example of modern without taking it too far. At least it's not bunching up in many awkward places, the shoulder fit is good, and the jacket length is not overly short. It's wool sharkskin.

      I don't see the inherent problem in the second suit, it's something I'd wear in a heartbeat. The jewelry and sunglasses are not my style, but I like the attitude the entire ensemble is being worn with. He looks comfortable and confident. Anyway, if you look at more of C&M's work one can see the clear influence it has on Tom Ford, down to the widened pocket flaps. I'm not sure if the model is a hip hop artist, do you know who he is?

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    2. I did some digging and his name is Michael Browne, he's the Cutter at C&M. I also think your "hip hop guy" comment was just a little racist.

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    3. I agree with Jovan. The "hip hop guy" comment was not necessary. It's a photo of cutter Michael Browne showing off his own work! He's a bit flashy, but so is the cut of his suit. Everything works very nicely together.

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  4. Would you wear an all grey outfit like Reggie Bush? I think an outfit made of all shades of blue can look good but I'm really apprehensive about this color done the same way. Not sure why.

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    1. You're correct in feeling that something is off. In short? No, I wouldn't wear all grey. It tends to look drab compared to wearing all blue, where one can wear a navy suit with a sky blue shirt and medium blue tie and look pretty good. I sometimes wear a navy suit with a navy tie, but it works best when they are distinctly different hues. Like another commenter said, I think just swapping out the grey shirt would improve things a lot. White or pastels are the best for wearing with suits.

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