KS 101: Origins of the Shawl Collar

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Originally featured on Victorian smoking jackets, the shawl collar or lapel has become a tuxedo staple. In the mid 1800s, smoking after dinner became fashionable in London and men would switch from their formal dinner jackets into a velvet or silk smoking jacket, worn with shawl lapel, as a way to prevent the smoke from spoiling their clothes.


Over time, the shawl collar migrated to other jackets, especially the tuxedo, and has become a favorite go-to look for celebrities, rap stars and Hollywood tough guys. From James Bond to Steve McQueen, the shawl collar softens a rough look and adds a touch of sophistication and class to any classic men’s suit.

Shawl collars are typically rounded lapels coupled with a V neckline that tapers as it moves down the waist. Popular on Oscar night tuxedos, shawl collars can also be found on men’s suit jackets, sweaters, cardigans and blazers.

Shawl collars are known to be flattering to stockier, heavy set physiques thanks to the rolled, rounded shape which frames the wearer’s face. The long, curved lapels also help create a leaner, trimmer silhouette.

Choose Knot Standard’s Madison Midnight Blue Tuxedo with black satin shawl collar for a sophisticated and debonair evening look.

  • Jovan Gauthier

    Sure you don’t have that backwards? Typically shawl collars and cummerbunds are recommended against for heavyset guys because they emphasize their roundness.