Tweed is all about versatility. It’s the one item you can add to your wardrobe that performs every function you’re ever likely to come across. From casual days out to the smartest of weddings, provided you wear it correctly, tweed will do the job. Here’s how to look great in tweed whatever the occasion.
The traditional tweed look
A traditional fabric from the remote islands off the west coast of Scotland, tweed’s original job was to keep folk north of the border warm in the worst of weathers. But as its use spread beyond the crofts of poor subsistence farmers, tweed became gentrified, soon becoming the sportswear of choice for the hunting, shooting and fishing set.
In the 21st century, traditional tweed remains a timelessly stylish fabric for those who like the country life. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a regular at your local pheasant shoot, or you never set foot outside the smog belt of your home city, a heritage tweed suit’s earthy hues mark you out as a gent.
Go for a three piece tweed suit and wear it with a country check or tattersall shirt. Accessorise with a matching tweed flat cap, bold red tie, wax jacket and country boot. This look is ideal for days at the races, visits to your home in the country, dining out and even weddings and graduations.
Tweed suits for the office
Perhaps it’s tweed’s affiliation with the upper classes that lends it such a smart, refined appeal. In more recent years, the scratchy 100% wool garments of yesteryear have given way to wool blends that make tweed more comfortable to wear and produce a sleeker look that makes a tweed suit ideal for formal occasions.
Quoted by the FT, Johnny Allen, sales manager at bespoke tailor Huntsman, says tweed is “increasingly being selected for the city as it gives a nod to dressing up but without the formality of a classic business suit. It has a slightly edgier, relaxed look to it.”
If you’re intending to wear your tweed to the office, consider switching traditional greens and browns for more contemporary urban colours like grey or blue. Go for a cut that’s snug but not too tight, and always wear your suit with quality black or brown leather shoes, preferably Oxfords or Derbys. If you fancy giving a nod to tradition, brogues – the original footwear of grousemoor ghillies – are a great choice.
Tweed is a textured fabric, so you’ll want to choose a shirt that contrasts. Go for a crisp white, pastel blue or pink cotton shirt, worn with a contrasting tie.
Smart casual tweed
To get all the advantages of tweed, you need to take that suit you invested in and break it down. The jacket, waistcoat and trousers each offers a separate look, and when worn in different combinations generate even more ways to make one suit do it all.
Going to after work drinks? Whip off your jacket, remove your tie and unbutton your waistcoat. Alternatively, lose the jacket and waistcoat and bung on a cardigan or tank top. Switch the trousers for chinos, lose the waistcoat and put on a striped shirt with the top button left undone. There are a myriad of ways to make your tweed suit do smart casual.
We particularly like the look of a tweed jacket worn over a lightweight turtleneck jumper. Not only is it sophisticated, it also slims your silhouette, especially when you choose dark colours like charcoal, navy or black.
For your feet, we suggest brogues. Or for a slightly more relaxed look, penny loafers worn with contrasting socks.
A tweed jacket comes in really handy when you want to do casual without dressing like a teenager. Any pair of straight-cut dark jeans and casual shirt looks great with a tweed jacket worn over.
The trick to nailing this look is to make sure your jacket is a good fit – nothing looks worse than a voluminous jacket worn over a scruffy polo shirt. Look for a good fit – neither so tight that you look like a sausage bursting its casing, nor like you’ve contracted a wasting disease.
And leave the t-shirts to the kids. You might consider wearing a henley shirt as a base layer, with a preppy button-down collar weekend shirt under your tweed jacket. Alternatively, for a more contemporary feel, go for a cotton cashmere jumper worn with a lightweight gilet under your tweed jacket.
Casual footwear options include chunky chukka boots, brogues, loafers or even boat shoes if the weather’s good.
A note on tweed waistcoats
People who wear tweed waistcoats without a jacket on top run the risk of looking like extras from one of the interminable hobbit movies. Which is not to say you can’t wear your waistcoat as a top layer – but do bear in mind that doing so accentuates your mid section.
Unless you’re slim as a whippet, the best way to turn a tweed waistcoat into an extra outfit is to wear yours under a contrasting jacket.
Going to a wedding? You’ll add a celebratory feel to a traditional tweed suit by wearing a bold red waistcoat beneath your jacket. Similarly, a soft grey tweed waistcoat tones down the starkness of a navy tweed office suit.
Wear tweed in the winter
The versatility of tweed comes into its own in the winter when layering is key to keeping you snug.
Think moleskin trousers, country check shirt, wool jumper and country tweed jacket for walks, visits to your local pub or a meal out. Alternatively, put your best foot forward wearing your tweed trousers, with a cosy tattersall shirt, waistcoat and quilted jacket – if it’s really cold a wax jacket or tweed long coat really looks the business.
And don’t forget your scarf. Winding a chunky woollen number around your neck can make a tweed jacket warm enough to be your top layer. Otherwise, go for a boldly contrasting plaid or block colour worn under a quilted jacket or gilet.
Wear tweed in summer
Modern wool mixes make tweed a surprise summer option with plenty of applications. Take your yacht club summer barbecue, for example – you don’t have to wear a brass buttoned blazer anymore because a smart, summer weight tweed sports coat offers a more rounded finish.
Think bold checks or perhaps lighter notes like greys and light blues for a summer feel that looks just great when you wear your jacket over an open neck cotton shirt. Chinos complete the look, plus your loafers or boat shoes.
Going to a graduation or summer wedding? Again, tweed makes an excellent choice. Wear your tweed suit without the waistcoat, and swap black brogues for brown. A bright pocket square and panama hat complete the look.
Feeling chilly in your jeans and sweat top? Summer evenings are seldom as balmy as we’d like them to be, but by carrying a tweed jacket with you, you’ll be warm when the sun dips below the horizon.
How to look after your tweed suit
Tweed takes very little effort to keep it looking its best. Here are the key things to remember:
How do you wear your tweed? We’d love to know. Do get in touch via our Facebook page.