How confident we’re feeling about the state of the economy can have a bearing on our width. Lapel width, that is. Sartorial historians point to lapel breadth as a sartorial reaction to the socio-economic climate. Wide lapels bloom during boom, while narrow rules in recession. (Tailors and their clients clearly experience a curious swelling sensation when they’re feeling good.) Take a lapel reading from the man on the street right now and it appears we’re feeling the pinch. However, despite an inclement forecast, style is again getting its wide on.
Half an inch makes a considerable difference to width, hence, lapels are potent vehicles of expression. Wide lapels can telegraph a ballsy confidence or an exuberant approach to style; they can almost be sexualized. Despite uncertain times, wide is back. Some, however, never strayed from the broad way: “My signature look has its roots in the opulent glamour of the 1930s,” explains tailoring visionary Edward Sexton. “I remember watching old films and being mesmerised by the sheer elegance of Spencer Tracy, James Stewart and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. These silver screen images were burnt into my mind. In the boom of the late 1960s and early ’70s, Tommy Nutter and I reintroduced those rich proportions.” Tom Ford pays no heed to econo-climes as his work is stoutly luxe. He also eschews the idea of trend-led fashion collections, always cutting big. The wide shoulder lines and ardent, alpha lapels of his signature silhouette announce the wearer’s presence with a cloth fanfare.