The 1960s produced a lot of nonsense and mayhem: the Vietnam war, sitar music, the civil rights and immigration acts, long hair, Baby Boomers, and the Kennedy administration (for which my hard-line WASP mother's family still can not forgive American voters). To this list we must add: narrow lapels.
Narrow lapels, like skinny denim, seem to be all the rage amongst the younger set today, considered cool, trendy, Mod-ish, though I doubt even 1 in 20 American children even knows what a Mod is. Not that it matters to me. When it comes to the Mod versus Rocker debate, I was always on the side of the Punks, New Romantics, and Dandies.
I suspect some of the current narrow-lapelism is attributable to televisual programmes such as Madmen, a fictional entertainment produced by the sons and grandsons of men who were still largely societal outsiders at the time depicted in the series. It is an adolescent fantasy of what American life was like a few decades ago just prior to the revolution and Occupation, but as such it has had a remarkable influence on menswear, I think, at least where lapels are concerned.
You might be interested to know I recently performed a quantitative analysis of my own lapels, using a sample consisting of the seven (7) suits I wear most frequently: Brooks Brothers, Southwick, H. Freeman & Sons, Corneliani, and Hickey Freeman. The resulting lapel widths are as follows:
(4) 3.75 (H. Freeman)
(7) 4.00 (Southwick)
*Measurement system: Imperial Units (inches)
So there we have it. The mean width is 3.50" with a standard deviation of approximately 0.27". That seems about right. Anything narrower and one risks looking like a desperate extra from a Madmen set, or a club-kid fresh from the local disco.
Moderation is the key to virtue, as Aristotle tells us, so it is important to avoid both skinny and fat lapels. Keep to the middle path.
I would be interested to know about other lapel experiences. What's in your closet?