Mind the Gorge: A Cautionary Tale

Like many men’s clothing enthusiasts, I keep a well-curated “dream box” at yoox.com, full of items that I would potentially buy if the price dipped low enough. Be that as it may, I have never actually purchased anything from said dream box; my chest size is not particularly common on the site and the game of “price chicken” always ends in the item being sold before it reaches my ideal price range. So, imagine my surprise when I recently found this wool Boglioli jacket available in my size for the sweet price of $150. I bought it without thinking twice, since yoox has a fair return policy. The fit is good, the material is sublime, and the pattern is surprisingly fun. Even the original 900 euro price tag was still attached. Unfortunately, there were a few small problems, and one big one – the gorge.

For those that aren’t familiar, the lapel gorge is the divot along the length of a notch or peak lapel, where the collar and lapel meet. When people talk about lapels they generally talk about the width and lapel style, but the gorge is another major factor in the overall appearance of a jacket.

Much like many other jacket features, the lapel gorge is very sensitive to changing trends. Current trends favor the high gorge, while the low gorge was popular a few decades ago. Although it sounds like a subtle change, it clearly has a strong effect on the overall look of a jacket. A high gorge will lengthen the lapel line, and a low gorge will do the opposite. Either of these can be positive or negative depending on your body type. The placement of the gorge will also change the perceived width of the lapel; the lapels on the blazer above are a somewhat slim 3”, but the wildly high gorge make them look razor thin because the widest point occurs almost behind my head. In the same vein, the lapels of the 70s and 80s favored a lower gorge, accentuating their width even further.

Like most parameters affecting tailored clothing, some gorges are viewed as more “correct” than others. In my eye, a classic gorge will be located around the collar bone. Some say that the gorge should align with your tie knot, but this is saying more or less the same thing. At the end of the day, it’s all about proportions and what looks good on your body. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different gorge heights; however, as with most things, I suggest avoiding the extreme sides of the spectrum (as showcased above). The gorge on this jacket is so wildly high that it throws the lapels out of proportion and gives the whole garment an odd look.

And, like most issues concerning jacket lapels, alterations aren’t the answer to extreme lapel gorges. Lapel size and shape are best left unaltered, so make sure that this is something you are comfortable with before you take the tags off of a garment.

So, needless to say, this jacket will be going back. Thank goodness for good return policies.