Why lapels?

C

COG

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Why collars too, as I never got a good answer how they came about.
It seems that coats were once meant to be buttoned all the way up. Presumably the lapel was for indoor opening, in the way that old military uniforms had coattails that folded up and buttoned to clear when not in use. Similarly, cloaks and capes are known to deliberately fold back, revealing a facing when.
In many Civil War era photos, one sees a lapel facing that is bordered by the regular outside fabric, presumably so the lining would not show or wear when closed up. When did this all change? Obviously a modern coat has the lapel made so that the lapel backing does not show when open, instead of the other way around. And the buttons stop somewhere around the ribcage or lower, so the coat does not button farther.

Am I correct that the lapel is essentially vestigial decoration? How and when did this evolution occur?
 
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If it gets windy or cold out I'll pop the lapel, so still functional for me.
 
As a bonus question, is there a way to make the back of the coat collar more presentable when upturned? That felt just looks so unfinished?
 
As a bonus question, is there a way to make the back of the coat collar more presentable when upturned? That felt just looks so unfinished?

You have the option of using the same cloth or pick one you fancy.
The reason why tailors use felt (or here in the Uk it's a relatively heavy, carded wool cloth): It allows them to press it in shape as they need it. The hand stitching is one way to do it, RTW and MTM use machines (ranging from simple zig-zag to very special machines that imitate the hand stitches).

Not sure if I remember correctly, but the collar and lapel is a thing past Rokoko. Until the French revolution rich men wore jackets with tails, no lapels and collar, many of those jackets were not meant to be buttoned (despite a lot of decorative buttons).

The most common style of lapel, the notched lapel, originated in older types of jacket or coat that buttoned to the neck, by unbuttoning and turning back the upper part of the closure at an angle indoors or in hot weather, and then removing the upper buttons. The upper points are derived from the end corners of the collar. This can be duplicated by similarly turning back the closure in a modern button-to-the-neck garment such as an outdoor coat or a boilersuit. Sometimes when caught outside in bad weather in a lapelled jacket and nothing over it, its wearer may unfold the lapels and hold them that way to temporarily reproduce the ancestral to-the-neck closure.

As tailcoats evolved rapidly among the wealthy during the Regency period, various styles of closure saw popularity, from fastenings at the top, the middle, or even hanging open. The turn-down collar popular on earlier garments like the frock was succeeded by long lapels folded down to below the waist (fashionably tightly nipped in). Invariably, there were long rows of buttons down the front, most of which did not fasten; in fact even into the late Victorian era, all frock coats had a long row of button holes on the lapel, long since obsolete. As buttoning styles changed, the loosely folded front of the coat correspondingly shifted shape, and the V then formed by the meeting of the fold and the collar continues now in the traditional shape of notched and peaked lapels, both of which originate from that period.

Once double breasted frock coats were established, lapels were sharply creased and their form was more static, varying only in details such as height, since they were buttoned nearly to the neck by the Edwardians, then lengthened to the classic three-button shape, the two-button jacket being a further American innovation. The other significant change over that period was the use of the revers in the construction of the lapel, as the Victorians used elaborate three-part patterns to cut a fold of cloth from the lining into the front of the lapel, a universal consideration of frock coats and dress coats of the period, but abandoned in favor of the current single-piece lapels at the same time as the switch to morning coats and lounge suits. Modern lapels are largely identical in form to their 1930s counterparts.[citation needed]
 
So the rich in their warm mansions crafted this impractical style! I really thought I'd looked this up on wiki and found nothing, so thanks!
 

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