Notched Lapel Collar

AKA: step lapel (British), stepped collar (British)

How to say it: as it looks

Traditional Features: 


  • folded collar that joins a lapel at an angle
  • a notch is created where the collar meets the lapel
  • the size of the lapels and notch can vary
  • generally seen on a single-breasted garment
  • the notch is usually a v-shape, but not always


…of the style: The notched lapel collar can trace its origins to high fastening coats as far back as the 18th century, if not further. These coats had buttons right the way up to the neckline and while they did not have lapels, the impression of a lapel was achieved when the wearer opened the top couple of buttons and folded the excess fabric back to allow air to reach the body – the notched look appeared between the edge of the collar and the edge of the coat proper (kind of like when you open a Pea Coat or Trench).

Through the Regency and Victorian periods the folded collar became popular more popular than the standing or band collar, and styles began to include a kind of mock lapel – technically the coats where still intended to be  buttoned up to the neck, but they were mostly worn open to achieve the lapel look. This continued to such an extent that the top buttons were often removed or not attached to the garments in the first place, although strangely the buttonholes remained. It wasn’t until the Edwardian period that true lapels, ones that were creased down and not meant to be worn any other way, really came into fashion.

Of these new lapels, the most common was the notched lapel, which purposely reproduced the  v-shaped notch from the previous decades. This style of lapel was used on mainly single-breasted suits, blazers and coats and has remained the most popular option for men and women to this day, although the size and shape of the lapels and notches have changed with the trends over the years.

Despite being the lapel of choice for decades, many connoisseurs of ‘correct dressing’ (particularly for men) dislike the notched collar because of its popularity and during my research I saw it described as ‘bland’ and ‘banal’ on several websites, particularly when it comes to the notched lapel on a formal evening jacket. Traditionally, a formal jacket intended for black or white tie events should have a shawl or peaked lapel, but the notched lapel became an acceptable choice for evening wear in the 1980s. This apparently came about as it was less of a statement collar and many people not used to the formality of evening wear felt comfortable with the familiar look of the notched lapel.

But, however much Old-School clothiers complain about the wide-spread adoption of the notched collar, its popularity has not waned and the style is still seen on the majority of men’s and women’s jacket in todays fashion marketplace.

…of the name: The v-shaped space between the collar and the lapel creates a notch, hence the name of the style.

The style can be called a step or stepped lapel as the space between the collar and the lapel looks like a step.

For more info on Notched collars try Wikipedia, Black Tie Guide, Dress Code or check out A Dictionary of Costume and Fashion

Random Facts

  • a small notch on a collar is called a fishmouth
  • coats with buttons right up to the neck which can be folded open resembling the older styles that inspired the notched lapel still exist in modern fashion, but they are called convertible collars rather than a notched lapel

21st Century Notched Lapels

The notched lapel was the most popular coat style back in the day and one look at the coats and jackets available in the modern fashion marketplace will leave the shopper in no doubt that this popularity continues. It is a classy, classic collar style that will be around for years and years to come.

3.1 Phillip Lim Akris

3.1 Phillip Lim, Akris

marni Alexander McQueen

Marni, Alexander McQueen


0 thoughts on “Notched Lapel Collar

  1. I haven’t checked in here for some time because I thought it was getting boring, but the last several posts are great quality so I guess I’ll add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it friend 🙂

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